Rhythm Section Drummer Dead at 37
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Atlanta Rhythm
Section drummer R.J. Vealey died of a
heart attack at age 37 shortly after a
performance by the southern rock group
in central Florida, the band's manager
The group had finished a concert
at the University of Central Florida in
Orlando on Saturday night, when Vealey,
who joined the group four years
ago, suffered a massive heart attack,
band manager Buddy Buie said.
``R.J. came off the stage after the
performance, which the band members
said was one of the best performances
he'd played in a long time, and sat
up on the side of one of the trucks backstage
and just slumped over,'' Buie
Paramedics were unable to revive
him. Buie said Vealey's death occurred on
his daughter's first birthday.
``It's a tragic situation. We lost
a great drummer,'' Buie said.
Vealey was a native of Charleston,
The Atlanta Rhythm Section has had
six Top 20 hits in its 27-year career,
including ``So Into You'' in 1977.
The band released its 14th album,
``Eufala,'' in February. It was named
after the small town in Alabama where
the group retreats for inspiration
and was the band's first studio album
in 10 years.
The group's lead singer, Ronnie Hammond,
spent four weeks in the hospital
after he was shot last December by a Macon,
Georgia policeman he had
threatened with a hammer and part
of an old guitar. Hammond, who has
battled alcoholism, later said he was
trying to commit suicide and had been
drinking vodka ``for five days straight''
after weeks of depression.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)
- R.J. Vealey, drummer for Atlanta Rhythm Section,
collapsed and died Saturday from a heart
attack shortly after a performance.
He was 37.
Vealey studied music at West Virginia University
and Ohio State University.
He received a fine arts scholarship at
West Virginia, where he was a featured
soloist in the West Virginia University
Vealey performed at the 1984 Presidential
Inaugural Ball in Washington,
toured Japan with ``Percussion 80'' and
won the outstanding soloist award at
Ohio State University.
After college, Vealey toured with the techno-dance
band Fashion Reaction. He
also recorded with artists including Section
Eight, Zaccaria, Tone Poets and
Vealey joined the Atlanta Rhythm Section
Atlanta Rhythm Section Sadly Announces the
Death of Drummer R.J. Vealey
1962-1999 The Atlanta Rhythm Section sadly announces the
sudden death of drummer R.J. Vealey. The band was
performing Saturday afternoon, November 13th, at the Fall
Music Festival on the campus of the University of Central
Florida in Orlando. R.J. collapsed backstage about ten
minutes after the performance was completed. Paramedics
were on site and were unable to revive him. An autopsy
revealed that a massive heart attack was the cause of death.
He is survived by his wife, Amy, and their two children. Rather
than sending flowers, please consider making a contribution to
the R.J. Vealey Memorial Fund through South Trust Bank,
2920 North Druid Hills Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.
R.J. had been racking up awards as a drummer/percussionist
since his college years. Born in the quiet town of Charleston,
West Virginia, R.J. grew up listening to classic rock artists
like Jimmy Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and ARS in their
formative years. He mastered his own drumming technique
under musical influences such as Jim Keltner, Jeff Porcaro
and Buddy Rich. After high school, he studied music at West
Virginia University where he was the recipient of a fine arts
scholarship. R.J. established his tremendous talents as the
featured soloist in the West Virginia University Jazz
Ensemble. Other accomplishments include: performing at the
1984 Presidential Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C., touring
Japan with Yamaha-sponsored "Percussion 80," and winning
the Outstanding Soloist Award at Ohio State University.
Immediately after college, R.J. began touring with the
techno-dance band Fashion Reaction. In between shows, he
recorded with various acts such as Section Eight, Zaccaria,
Tone Poets, Circle O'fifths and Stonefish. R.J. began his
successful tenure with the Atlanta Rhythm Section in 1995.