Meet remarkable Roy, 93, the oldest drummer in Milton Keynes

His talent is described as extraordinary

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 11:55 am
Updated Thursday, 11th November 2021, 11:56 am

An extraordinary and talented 93-year-old man who has spent almost his whole life playing the drums is to star in his own event at MK Gallery.

Roy Holliday has been booked for one afternoon only, on Saturday November 20. He will answer questions about his life and people will also get to see a short documentary film of him in action.

Roy, who has played with top bands at top venues, said: "I've been around drums for the whole of my life. When I was 18 months old uncle had dance band. I wandered in and pulled bass drum on top of me - and ended up inside it. So you you say I been surrounded by drums since I was 18 months old!"

In 1939, when Roy was 13, after his uncle's drummer was called up for war service. Roy stepped in to fill the gap - and has never stopped playing since.

By the age of 16 he was playing in dance bands all over London with West End musicians.

When Roy had to leave to do his National Service, he still didn't put down his drumsticks.

I played drums in Royal Air Force. I went to India, Egpyt..." he said.

Roy in action

When the war ended, Roy worked as a full time musician - but the novelty was starting to wear off.

"I was working in nightclubs until 4am to people who were not interested in the music," he said, "So I decided to go to business school."

Afterwards Roy joined Pearl, a drum manufacturing company.

"I moved the company to MK and became MD of a company formed to sell Pearl drums in UK.I worked there until retirement age," he said.

Roy Holliday

After he retired, Roy began teaching, playing and repairing drums.

"Last time I played for money - a real gig - was seven years ago, I would have been 86. The arthritis was starting to set in and I felt I couldn't do what the young guys were doing. I didn't want to be in the stage where people said 'Ah, poor old guy, he used to be good when he was young'.

"I really wanted to bow out and for people to remember me for what I did, if it was worthwhile. I hope it was... It's been good. It's been a lot of fun."

In fact, as the video by local film maker Heather Britton shows, Roy still has an incredible talent for the drums. And he says he still feels ' on top of the world' when he plays.

Roy Holliday

He still attends London's Coda Club, which is a meeting place for musicians.

"I need to be here. I need to prove I'm still alive. There's guy there I've known for 60 or 70 years," he said.

Roy is modest about his longevity and good health. "I don't know that 93 is impressive - its depressive sometimes. One tends to thing that one can do everything that you could when you were younger and it's not true... There's no secret for longevity. Just eat, drink and take care of yourself."

You can book tickets for an 'Afternoon with Roy Holliday' at MK Gallery here.