Barrett Deems (born Springfield, Illinois March 1, 1914) who was best known for anchoring Louis Armstrong's bands (Armstrong used to call him "The Kid") died September 15, 1998 at Columbus Grant Hospital of Pneumonia. Up until just before his death he still performed with his own excellent Barrett Deems 18-piece Big Band (including trumpeters Brad Goode and Mike McLaughlin, trombonist Audrey Morrison, and reedmen Barry Winograd and Richie Corpolongo). The group which performed weekly at the Elbo Room and The Note.
Even at 80+, he was still talented, although some nights, he would wander off and spend the night by the bar (the backup drummer is excellent, though!) Deems, once billed as "the world's fastest drummer," began working professionally in the late 1920s, and led a number of Chicago-area bands before joining Joe Venuti (1937) with whom he worked for 7 years. He then worked with Jimmy Dorsey (1945), Red Norvo (1948) and Muggsy Spanier (1951), Armstrong, Jack Teagarden (1960-4). He also led his own band, Chicago's Brass Rail club, worked with the Dukes of Dixieland, Joe Kelly's Gaslight Band, played and recorded with Art Hodes, and toured with a number of Armstrong Tribute bands.