Woodyard, Sam(uel), jazz drummer; b. Elizabeth, N.J., Jan. 7, 1925; d. Paris, Sept. 20, 1988. He was self-taught, playing with various local groups around Elizabeth and Newark, N.J. He worked in the 1950s for various leaders, including Paul Gayten (1950-51), Joe Holiday (late 1951), Roy Eldridge (1952), and Milt Buckner (1953-55). He is best remembered for his long stint with Duke Ellington, from 1955-66. He was Ellington’s favorite drummer (after Sonny Greer). His trademark was a cross stick over the rim of his snare drum, doubling the hi-hat on the backbeats (two and four). In the late 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles and was inactive for a while due to ill health. He returned to performing in the late 1970s, primarily working in Europe for the last decade of his life, often accompanying French jazz-pop pianist Claude Boiling.
DUKE ELLINGTON: Ellington at Newport (1956); D. E. Vol. 7 Studio sessions (1957/58); D. E. Vol. 2 California Dance Duke Ellington (1958). JOHN COLTRANE: Coltrane and Ellington (1962).