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Roy Haynes: The Rhythm of a Long Life

By Ruby Cemental

To happily reach the age of 90, sometimes you have to march to the beat of your own drum. To be like Roy Haynes, you have to do it literally. Haynes, known as "Snap, Crackle" to other jazz professionals, is an American jazz drummer and musical director who is among the most recorded drummers in jazz, and, without a doubt, an inspiration to musicians young and old.

Early Life

Roy Haynes was born in Boston in 1925, and made his professional debut as a jazz musician when he was only 17. The fact that he is primarily self-taught shows the determination and drive that he has built his life upon. Haynes has recorded over 100 pieces of music as a sideman and director for a variety of jazz masters like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Dave Brubeck, and has won many awards, including a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement.

In jazz, as in life, Haynes says, the key to success is practice. As a youngster in school, Haynes was often sent to the principal's office for drumming on his desk, and to this day, he is always thinking in rhythm.

Staying Young

Keeping things fresh through constant attentiveness and exercise is how he stays ahead in his senior years. It's not hard to believe that his appropriately named "Fountain of Youth Band" is still active today, and, in fact, played a 90th birthday celebration show in March of 2015. When asked how he stays so young, Haynes replies, "there’s no secret. I work out mentally and always watch what I eat."  Other musicians are often surprised by his stamina and remark that he truly looks like he is in his 30s.

His youthful glow and constant smile are testaments to the notion that people don't have to give up what they love as they grow older, and that there is always happiness to be had no matter how far into life one happens to be.    

For more Caring Senior Service's inspirational stories on the aging pioneers of our day or for aging resources, please contact us.

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Tags: Golden Inspirations

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