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Former Roomful Of Blues Drummer John Rossi Dead At 79

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PROVIDENCE, RI (CelebrityAccess) — John Rossi, the former drummer of the legendary blues and swing band revival group Roomful of Blues, died on April 9th. He was 79.

According to an obituary published for Rossi, he died at a Rhode Island area hospital after a short but unspecified illness.

John Rossi
John Rossi

Born in Providence, Rossi took up the drums at an early age, taking inspiration from the music of artists such as Little Richard, Fats Domino, and tenor sax player Red Prysock.

He took up drums at the age of seventeen and performed with some of the region’s leading early rhythm and blues bands such as the Rockin’ Savoys, and the Del-Rays, who he recorded with in 1961.

By the late 1960s, Rossi was performing with Scott Hamilton and Fred Bates amid the early inklings of the Swing Revival and in 1970, he joined Roomful of Blues, stepping in for Fran Christina, who left the group.

The band, led by guitarist and singer Duke Robillard, featured a swing heavy lineup with Greg Piccolo, Doug James and Rich Lataille on sax, Al Copley on piano, Eddie Parnigoni on bass, and John Rossi on drums. Playing classic rhythm and blues and jump blues from artists such as Buddy Johnson, Roy Milton, and Tiny Bradshaw, Roomful of Blues was quick to put its stamp on the New England music scene.

The group was signed to Island Records in 1977 with their debut “The First Album” helping to put the band on the map nationwide.

Rossi remained a part of Roomful of Blues until 1998, when, tiring of life on the road, he quit the band in order to spend more time with his family.

During Rossi’s tenure, Roomful of Blues was nominated for five Grammy Awards, seven Blues Music Awards, and two Best Blues Band picks from the Down Beat International Critics Poll.

Rossi was married to Linda (Teto) Rossi for 37 years and he is survived by his wife, his daughter, Lisa Paiva of Smithfield, and his two grandsons: Anthony and Joseph, among others.

A private burial will take place on April 13. Visitation will be Tuesday 4-6pm in the Anderson-Winfield Funeral Home, Rt 44 at Greenville Common, Greenville. In lieu of flowers donations in his memory may be made to Burriville Animal Shelter, c/o Burrillville Town Hall, 105 Harrisville.

Following Rossi’s death, former manager Bob Bell and former bandmate Al Copley paid tribute on social media.

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