Harold Jones was born February 27, 1940 in Richmond, Indiana, where he lived until 1958.
In the 1950’s
Jones gives credit to his first teacher Jack Kurkowski, a vaudeville performer for teaching him to read music before he even owned a drum. He began drumming at 14 when he enrolled at summer music camp in his native Richmond, Ind.
In Richmond High School he played in the orchestra, dance band, pep band, marching band, and concert band. In 1958, with the help of his teacher, Robert Carr, he won a scholarship to the American Conservatory of Music, Chicago, under the direction of James Dutton. During his studies he began playing night clubs, he was the drummer on Eddie Harris’ “Exodus to Jazz”, the first jazz LP to sell 1 million records.
In the 1960’s
Jones also worked with saxophonist, Paul Winter when the band toured 23 Latin countries, and later became the first jazz band to play the White House. Jones was twenty-one years old at that time. In 1967, he was called to New York to fill in for Count Basie’s drummer — ”it was supposed to be two weeks, and it turned into five years.” The Basie years, according to him, “were the greatest of my life,” As the youngest person in the band, he learned a lot about discipline. With Basie, Jones performed for royalty and fans around the world. In 1972, he won the Down Beat Magazine International Jazz Critics’ Poll for the best new artist.
In the 1970’s
Harold continued to play with Basie off and on for an additional five years, but left the tour when Ella Fitzgerald invited him to be one of her musicians. He also worked sporadically with Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae, Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis Jr.
In the 1980’s
In 1980, he joined Sarah Vaughan and for the next 10 years toured the world - Hong Kong, Australia, England and Brazil. With Sarah, he played the White House “five times” because she was Nancy Reagan’s favorite singer.
In the 1990’s
In 1990, Harold joined Natalie Cole for the Unforgettable Tour, playing to sold-out houses.