Specs Powell


Oral History Information

Interview Date
Birth Date
Deceased Date
Job Title
Musician, Drummer

Specs Powell played jazz drums during the hey-day of 52nd Street in New York City. He worked hard -- sometimes four gigs a night -- playing behind such legends as Billie Holiday, John Kirby and Red Norvo. Specs was active in the V-Disc recordings to boost the troops’ morale during World War II and became the first black musician hired by a network orchestra, CBS back in 1943. He made the transition with the orchestra from radio to television, playing in the pit for the long running Ed Sullivan Show. During the NAMM Show in 2006, Specs was presented the Support Music Award for his contributions to music and music making, which included the design of the bongo brackets made by Marty Cohen in the years just before he formed Latin Percussion (LP).