Alford J. Cooper was a renowned drummer who had an incredible music career - some of which is captured below in his own words. Enjoy!
“My daddy was working at the University of Georgia as a cook at Payne Hall where the football players used to stay back in the day. He would bring home these tin cans that had salad oil and stuff in them and I made me a drum set in the yard. Every evening when I would get home from school, I would get out there and beat on the drums drawing in a pretty good crowd of people. That is, besides one lady next door that told my mama if I kept doing it, she was going to call the police. Anyway, I started listening to 45 rpm records and learned two drum solos by a drummer named Cozy Cole, verbatim (Topsy – Part I & II and Turvy – Part I & II). After that, I got in the rhythm band in elementary school (East Athens Elementary School where Jessie McWhorter was principal and wife of McWhorter of Jackson-McWhorter Funeral Home). When I got to Athens High and Industrial (year one) turned Burney-Harris (rest of high school, of which the Class of 1965 was its first graduating class), I got in the band. Initially, I wanted to play trumpet but Mr. Allen (Band Director) told me my lips were too big to play trumpet and gave me a pair of symbols. The first year (8th-9th), I had to sit out because they didn’t have a band uniform. 10th grade, I inherited a band uniform from somebody who graduated. Mr. Allen said ‘ok, what we’re going to do is we’re gonna make you a drummer.’ My mama and daddy bought me a snare drum from Leon Ware and I started playing in the band. Later, I started playing timpani (kettle drums) in the concert band and things escalated from there. I became section leader in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. We also had a band called The Charms - Clarence Turner, John Barrow, Fred Edwards, Eddie Green, James Johnson, and myself. Mr. Allen booked gigs for us in the area (proms at high schools like Southside, Blackwell (Elberton), etc.) and we were using his Allen’s Rhythm Rambling bread truck to get to the gigs.
After high school, Mr. Allen arranged for all of us to go to different schools but instead I decided to go on the road with Otis Redding. This came by way of Jim Hawkins. I started playing with him in a group called Eddie B and the Embers. Gigs were being booked by Phil Walden & Associates (later named Capricorn Records on 3rd St. in Macon) for whom Jim was recording engineer. One of the gigs had Otis headlining for which they used Jim’s band. Otis liked the band and the rest is history. After coming off the road with him, I started hanging around Macon getting gigs with other artists that Phil Walden was booking. Some of those that I played with were Clarence Carter, Arthur Conley, Tyrone Davis, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Roscoe Robinson, Percy Sledge, and Johnny Taylor. I played locally also at Gigi’s and Allen’s. But, when someone would call me on the road, I’d say Mr. Winfrey (Mutual Funeral Home), here’s your key, I gotta go. That happened from 1966-the 1980s, with my glory years being 1975-1980. The Chitlin’ Circuit, theaters, limos - there are only two states I’ve never been to in the U.S. – Idaho and Delaware. Internationally, I’ve played in Antiqua, Barbados, Jamaica, South Africa, and Trinidad. They tell me I’m an Icon or whatever…and I can still handle it!”