Rock drummer Ted McKenna has died aged 68, following complications occurring during a routine Hernia operation.
His fellow musician from the ever popular Band of Friends and Rory Gallagher Band Gerry McAvoy announced today on Facebook: “I’m lost for words creating this post. I lost my friend and comrade this morning. After what should have been a routine operation, there were complications, meaning Ted started hemorrhaging blood. Sadly the surgeons could not stop the bleeding”.
Born in Glasgow, Edward ‘Ted’ McKenna was one of the true unsung heroes of 70’s/80’s Rock music. He ‘got the gig’ with Rory Gallagher after making a name with the insane but much loved Scottish rocker Alex Harvey. McKenna’s very first Gallagher appearance was at a major Irish Rock Festival (Macroom in County Cork) – joining the band at such short notice that he was learning the songs whilst still on the flight to the show.
Although making his name with Harvey and Gallagher Ted McKenna was a part of many top Rock Bands on tour – if you were a concert goer in the 70’s and 80’s you might have seen him with Greg Lake, with Gary Moore, with Michael Schenker, Ian Gillan, Steve Winwood… to name just five in a long and illustrious list.
3songs had the pleasure of interviewing Ted on two occasions when Band of Friends played Bonn Harmonie – the last time in 2018. I still remember Gerry McAvoy having a bit of fun with Ted after we’d listed the greats he had played drums for, only for Gerry to add – “and don’t forget, there was Womack and Womack too!”
McKenna wasn’t one for playing gently in the background. His drum-kit was one of those big sets that looked welded together to withstand the impact of an earthquake. Maybe because, as Ted himself recalled, Rory used to never have the drum going through his own monitors and so kept asking the Big Man to play louder. Stepping from Alex Harvey to Rory Gallagher was, he remembered at our interview in 2013, a huge jump in energy levels – “At rehearsals (with Rory) I thought ‘Well, I’m getting the hang of this, it’s hard work’. But when we went onstage, the energy level just went up and up. The pressure, you know, it was amazing!”
Despite the big drum kit, McKenna still managed to stay highly visible. In my efforts to get a good picture at the Harmonie, I remember waiting for Ted’s head, blonde hair flying in all directions courtesy of a floor-fan, to appear between the cymbals. It took many an attempt before I was quick enough – but every time his face bobbed into view there was a smile on it.
At my last interview in October 2018 Gerry and Ted were very upbeat about how Band of Friends were developing. There was was keen talk of tentative plans to remember the 25th Anniversary of Rory Gallagher’s death – with special concerts in 2020 maybe based around the Stagestruck live album on which both men played. Sadly Ted McKenna will be missing from those celebrations now.