Sam Woodyard gained his recognition and popularity behind the drum throne of the Duke Ellington Orchestra from 1955 to 1966.
Woodyard born on Jan. 7, 1925, hailed from Newark, was self taught, and by the '40s, he was playing with local bands . He played R&B in Paul Gayten's band around 1950.By the early '50s, Woodyard had played with tenor saxophonist Joe Holiday, trumpeter Roy Eldridge, and pianist Milt Buckner. His most productive and defining period of course were the ’55-’66 years with the Duke.
After his time with Ellington, Woodyard played drums for Ella Fitzgerald, and then moved to Los Angeles, after which he settled in Paris.