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Studio drummer Ricky Lawson, a collaborator with musicians including Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Whitney Houston, has died at a suburban Los Angeles hospital following a brain aneurysm. He was 59.
Lawson’s uncle, Paul Riser of Detroit, said Tuesday that Lawson was removed from life support 10 days after the aneurysm diagnosis and died around 7 p.m. Monday.
Lawson was being treated at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in Long Beach, Calif., about 25 miles south of Los Angeles.
The Detroit native learned to play drums at age 16 and jumped into the music business even before graduating from Cooley High School, developing into one of the nation’s top studio musicians in the 1980s.
His work appears on Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You.” He also performed with Al Jarreau, George Benson, Bette Midler, Quincy Jones and many others.
Lawson won a Grammy award in 1986 for R&B instrumental performance for the song “And You Know That” by his group, Yellowjackets.
He became disoriented during a performance on Dec. 13 and was diagnosed with an aneurysm.
Drummer Questlove Jenkins of The Roots called Lawson “the master” on Twitter Dec. 18 in a message saying, “praying for his recovery.”
Speaking of Ricky Lawson he once told me the most important drum break/solo of his life was that one hit before Whitney’s “& I!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
— Questlove Jenkins (@questlove) December 19, 2013
Drummer Sheila E. tweeted Tuesday: “We lost a great man, drummer, father, brother and son. mr Ricky Lawson. He passed away yesterday. Please pray for his family. we will miss u.”
We lost a great man, drummer, father, brother and son. mr Ricky Lawson. He passed away yesterday. Please pray for his family. we will miss u
— SheilaEdrummer (@SheilaEdrummer) December 24, 2013
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