Sandy Nelson

Sandy Nelson was a prominent session drummer in the 50's and 60's and managed to put some instrumental hits of his own in the top ten.

He was born Sander Nelson in 1938 in Santa Monica, California. He attended high school with Jan Berry, Dean Torrence, and others who went on to careers in rock-and-roll. Sandy became a proficient drummer and joined his first group, Kip Tyler and the Flips. Another member of the group was future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, who played piano. Kip Tyler and the Flips recorded some songs on the Ebb and Challenge labels.

His services as a drummer were in demand. He played drums for Spector on the Teddy Bears' number one hit To Know Him, Is To Love Him in 1958, and the following year he sessioned for Gene Vincent on Crazy Times before striking out on his own. He recorded for the Original Sound label, and his fifth release Teen Beat made it all the way to number four in 1959. It was rather unusual in that it was an instrumental song featuring Sandy's pounding drums. Instrumentals did not generally sell very well, but this one certainly did.

Sandy Nelson continued his work as a session drummer on many well known rock-and-roll songs in the early 60's, appearing on such top ten hits as Alley-Oop and A Thousand Stars. He signed a recording contract with Imperial and in 1961 released his second [and last] top ten hit, Let There Be Drums. Once again he had scored with an instrumental that featured his driving drum beat. He had other minor hits in 1962, such as Drums Are My Beat.

In 1963 Sandy was involved in a vehicular accident and lost part of his leg. He recovered and returned to performing the following year, and eventually released Teen Beat '65 before fading away.

Most Recent Update: April 20, 2000

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