Edwin Thomas ‘Ed’ Shaughnessy (29 January 1929 – 24 May 2013) was a swing music and bebop drummer. He is best known as being the drummer of the Tonight Show Band for 29 years under the leadership of Doc Severinsen.
Shaughnessy was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and grew up in the New York City area, where he started playing drums at age 14. In the 1940s, he was playing professionally with George Shearing, Jack Teagarden and Charlie Ventura, and in the following decade he was working in the Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey bands.
In the 1960s, he was with Count Basie before joining The Tonight Show Band for Johnny Carson’s show. He played on Bashin’: The Unpredictable Jimmy Smith in 1962, which featured big band arrangements by Oliver Nelson and peaked at no. 21 on the Billboard chart.
Although Shaughnessy was best known as a big band drummer, he also performed in small groups with Roy Eldridge, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Jack Sheldon, Horace Silver, among many others.
For several years he was a member of the house band at Birdland and other New York clubs. In the early 1970s, he was playing in house bands in Los Angeles and is credited with discovering jazz vocalist and pianist Diane Schuur, whom he introduced at the 1976 Monterey Jazz Festival.
Shaughnessy played in an early incarnation of the Sesame Street orchestra and also led his own big band, Energy Force. He taught at New York University and ran drum clinics at Skidmore College in New York. Shaughnessy recorded extensively throughout his career and is credited on over 500 recordings.
This clip shows The Tonight Show Band playing the classic ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ for a disgruntled viewer who had complained that the band weren’t featured enough on air.