Drummer Ricky Lawson, founding member of Yellowjackets, dead at 59

<i>This post has been corrected, as indicated below.</i>

Drummer Ricky Lawson, 59, who performed and recorded with many of the biggest names in popular music in the 1980s, died Monday at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center of a brain hemorrhage.

The death was confirmed by hospital spokeswoman Wendy Dow. Lawson became disoriented during a performance Dec. 13 and was hospitalized, according to an Associated Press report. He died after being removed from life support, said his uncle, Paul Riser of Detroit.

Lawson performed with Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Bette Midler and many others. He was the drummer for Whitney Houston’s hit recording of “I Will Always Love You.”

He was a founding member of the jazz-fusion Yellowjackets group that won a 1986 Grammy for its recording of “And You Know That.”

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2013


Born in Detroit, Lawson learned to play drums at age 16 and jumped into the music business even before graduating from high school.

Drummer Questlove Jenkins of The Roots called Lawson “the master” on Twitter on Dec. 18 in a message saying, “praying for his recovery.”

Drummer Sheila E. tweeted Tuesday: “We lost a great man, drummer, father, brother and son. mr Ricky Lawson. He passed away yesterday. Please pray for his family. we will miss u.”

Dow said Lawson’s organs were donated for possible transplant to others.

[For the Record, 10:56 a.m. PST Dec. 25: An earlier version of this post misspelled Ricky Lawson’s last name as Larson and Bette Midler’s last name as Miller.]