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Passings: Drummer Ricky Lawson (1954 - 2013)

Session drummer and recording artist Ricky Lawson died on Monday after suffering a brain aneurysm ten days earlier.

On December 13, Lawson became disoriented while performing at a jazz club in Seal Beach, CA. He was treated at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center but did not recover and was removed from life support on Monday.

Lawson didn't start playing drums until the age of 16 but picked up the instrument quickly, playing in his high school jazz band.  He cut a college career with a swimming scholarship short when asked to join Stevie Wonder's band.

Over the years, Lawson played with the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Lionel Richie and Al Jarreau. Among the number 1 records on which Lawson was heard was Houston's I Will Always Love You, Richie's Dancing on the Ceiling, Anita Baker's Sweet Love and James Ingram's I Don't Have a Heart.  The key to his success was his ability cross genres from R&B and funk to jazz and country.

In 1977, he helped form the Yellowjackets, a jazz-fusion group that also included Robben Ford, Jimmy Haslip and Ricky Lawson.  Originally known as The Robben Ford Group, they first backed Ford on his 1979 album The Inside Story and released their group debut in 1981 with Yellowjackets. Lawson stayed with the group until 1986 when he left to tour with Lionel Richie.

Since 1999, Lawson has recorded four solo projects and played on Steely Dan's 2000 Grammy Award winning Album of the Year Two Against Nature. In addition, Ricky won the Grammy for R&B Instrumental Performance in 1986 for And You Know That by the Yellowjackets.