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Studio Veteran Bridged Swing and BopCopyright © 2007
A versatile drummer whose list of credits includes recordings with Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins and Mary Lou Williams, Specs Powell died of kidney failure at his home near San Diego at 85.
Powell started out as a pianist, but made his name drumming behind the likes of Edgar Hayes, Eddie South and John Kirby. In 1941, he joined Benny Carter, and two years later landed a staff job with the CBS Orchestra, where he worked with Raymond Scott and Leopold Stokowski. Like many musicians, Powell found himself drawn to New York City's 52nd Street during World War II. In 1945, he took part in a swing-meets-bop session under the leadership of Red Norvo with Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Flip Phillips, Teddy Wilson and Slam Stewart.
At CBS, he made the transition from radio to television, and worked on shows including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Jackie Gleason Show and Candid Camera. He retired from the network in 1972 and moved with his wife Peggy to the Virgin Islands.
In later years, Powell worked as a real estate dealer in southern California. He is survived by his wife and three children.