Ricky Lawson, a founding member of music group the Yellowjackets and a studio drummer who collaborated with musicians including Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Whitney Houston, has died at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in Long Beach, Calif., following a brain aneurism. He was 59.
Lawson’s uncle, Paul Riser of Detroit, said Tuesday that Lawson was removed from life support 10 days after the aneurism diagnosis and died around 7 p.m. Monday.
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 the Yellowjackets.
He became disoriented during a performance on Dec. 13 and was diagnosed with an aneurism.
Drummer Questlove Jenkins of The Roots called Lawson “the master” on Twitter Dec. 18 in a message saying, “praying for his recovery.”
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.”