Veteran drummer marches to his own drum onto Canada’s Walk of Fame

Jerry Mercer‘s parents were from Newfoundland.  Their moral compasses are very much alive in the now eight-six year old drummer’s heart.

‘I was working at IBM and I told my father I was quitting and becoming a drummer,” says  Mercer.  “My father said ‘we don’t think it’s the right thing to do but if that is what is in your heart – then do it’. To have them come to the Montreal Forum years later and see me with Mashmakhan – that was great!”

Jerry Mercer

Drummer Jerry Mercer has enjoyed a lifelong career as a working musician, most notably with April Wine

Trevor Payne and The Soul Brothers, The Triangle, Mashmakhan and April Wine; the main players in Jerry’s career. “In 1967 – we played five nights a week with The Firebirds, we brought Trevor Payne into The Firebirds and that changed everything. I had three weeks’ vacation coming and I took three days off at a time so I’d be able to work and play music.

Mercer retired from April Wine in 2009 following a successful thirty – six year stint. Recently – lead singer and principle songwriter Myles Goodwyn retired from performing live with April Wine. When the band was in Montreal with Myles’ replacement Marc Parent, Jerry was invited to play.

Jerry noted. “I stayed backstage so nobody knew I was there. For the encore – the band went out first and I walked onstage with Brian. It was the encore so everyone was clapping hard then the recognition factor kicked in. Then it got very loud. It was very heartwarming to receive that reception.”

Since his retirement – Mercer has not been sitting around. His first passion was learning Cuban music.  He ventured to Cuba for a few years with Aldo Mazza’s drumming workshop Kosa Music.  “I love Cuban music – I love the way patterns work. The Cuban government is a perfect example of how communism can manufacture excellence. Every musician must show they continue to grow by passing a test. If they fail; they can play music for fun, but they must find another way to make a living.”

Mercer’s new found passion is playing bass. Once a week he gets together with a group and plays Country and Pop tunes. It is his other project, a jazz quartet, which has him bounding out of bed. “We are doing all these jazz standards our own way. From memory I know a lot of songs my parents listened to and I am putting my own spin on them. I’m also working on a jazz version of The Beatles’ Come Together. I don’t know how or why this group works but we are starting to get some gigs and we’d love to come and play in Montreal”.

Attending Canada’s Walk of Fame ceremonies – David, Ritchie and Jim Henman, the founding members of April Wine were in attendance.  Myles Goodwyn, Brian Greenway and Jerry were onstage. Jerry made sure the Henmans also came on stage to be recognized.

Mercer’s moral compass is pointing in the right direction.

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