Kenny Malone, Prolific Nashville Session Drummer, Dies at 83

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Drummer Kenny Malone, a prolific session player who played on songs for Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings and many others, has died. He was 83.

Malone’s friend and former bandmate Dave Pomeroy said he died Thursday (Aug. 26) after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Malone is credited on hundreds of records made in Nashville, including albums like Parton’s Jolene, and Jennings’ Dreaming My Dreams. He was known in particular for his hand-drumming technique. Among the other artists Malone played with were Dobie Gray, Ronnie Milsap and Crystal Gayle.

“He expanded the vocabulary of Nashville drumming, and was always an innovator who invented his own unique style of hand drumming, often combining sticks and brushes with hand percussion to create a unique sound and feel that left lots of space for other instruments and the vocals,” Pomeroy said in a statement.

Malone, from Denver, enlisted in the Navy and served 14 years, playing as a musician in the U.S. Navy Band. He came to Nashville in 1970 and started working with famed Nashville producer “Cowboy” Jack Clement and soon became one of the most utilized drummers and percussionists in town.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum said he worked on records by Bobby Bare, Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Barbara Mandrell, Charley Pride, Kenny Rogers, Dottie West and Don Williams.

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