Jimmy Maelen

Jimmy Maelen (March 26, 1940 – January 14, 1988) was an American percussionist from the 1960s to 1980s, who worked with many artists including Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry, Peter Gabriel, James Taylor, Dire Straits, Barry Manilow, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Madonna, Bryan Adams, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and John Lennon. He also played on hit records by Bob James, Duran Duran, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Yoko Ono, Meatloaf, Alice Cooper, BJ Thomas, and many others.

Barely out of junior high school, his first group was a doo-wop street corner quintet called the Velons. By the early 1960s, he had become an excellent percussionist, playing almost exclusively with Latin bands around New York.

Maelen became lead singer, percussionist and founding member of Ambergris, and played with them for a few years. For the next two or three years, he worked with several bands and did session work. By the mid 1970s, his career took off.

For most of the late 1970s into the 1980s he was one of the "first call" percussion players in New York City. During the golden years of the disco era he was especially successful, working with the remix team of Michael Barbiero and John Luongo and overdubbing on extended dance versions of disco classics such as Gonzales' "I Haven't Stopped Dancin' Yet", The Jacksons' "Blame It on the Boogie" and "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)", Dan Hartman's "Vertigo/Relight My Fire", Jackie Moore's "This Time Baby" and many more. He can be heard playing seven tracks of percussion on Barry Manilow's classic hit "Copacabana". As a percussionist, he also appeared on the album, Desire Wire (Cindy Bullens album), made from 1978, done by Cindy Bullens. His working relationship with Barbiero and Luongo led to a solo album for Epic/Columbia in 1980, produced by the trio and entitled Beats Workin'.

Both the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes" and The Jacksons' "Shake Your Body" credit him not just on the back covers but on the record labels themselves.

Maelen's first album with Roxy Music was the critically acclaimed Avalon. He also played on the Dire Straits Brothers in Arms album, and appeared with both Roxy Music and Dire Straits at Live Aid in London. He also toured with Peter Gabriel on his first solo tour in 1977.

Maelen worked as a studio musician on Alphaville's 1986 album, Afternoons in Utopia. At the time of his death he was producing his first rock band Cherri Red, along with Gary Chester at the Edison Recording Studio in New York City. Subsequently, one of the songs "Be With You Tonight" which was written by John Bussi, was used in the film See You in the Morning directed by Alan J. Pakula.

Maelen died of leukemia on January 14, 1988. He was 47 years old.


Solo album

  • Beats Workin' (1980)

With O'Donel Levy

With Roberta Flack

With Ben E. King

With Yoko Ono

With Peter Gabriel

With Loleatta Holloway

With Neil Sedaka

With Garland Jeffreys

With Barry Mann

  • Lay It Out (CBS, 1971)

With Stephanie Mills

With Marlena Shaw

  • Take a Bite (Columbia, 1979)

With Linda Clifford

  • I'll Keep on Loving You (Capitol, 1982)

With Laura Nyro

With Peter Allen

With Barbra Streisand

With Jimmy McGriff

With Carly Simon

With Bryan Ferry

With Gloria Gaynor

With James Taylor

With Irene Cara

With Amy Grant

With John Lennon and Yoko Ono

With Barry Manilow

With Dion DiMucci

  • Return of the Wanderer (Lifesong, 1978)

With Jennifer Rush

With Lonnie Smith

With Frankie Valli

With Bryan Adams

With Debbie Gibson

With Lonnie Liston Smith