John Marshall obituary

Supremely gifted drummer who was a long-serving member of the British rock band Soft Machine

The long career of the British drummer John Marshall, who has died aged 82, spanned a broad range of music. In one of his first recording sessions he was part of the anonymous band backing the Jamaican singer Millie Small on the song My Boy Lollipop, which reached No 2 on the UK and US charts in 1964. Later he would become recognised for his membership of several leading groups fusing jazz with rock, including Nucleus, Centipede and particularly Soft Machine, with whom his tenure spanned half a century.

A member of a new generation of gifted British jazz drummers emerging in the 1960s, alongside Tony Oxley, Alan Jackson, Trevor Tomkins, Jon Hiseman and Tony Levin, he showed an early facility for switching between the conventional 4/4 swing of modern jazz and the 8/8 rock rhythms that were beginning to permeate the work of younger improvising musicians.

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