Tony Coleman has toured around the planet performing with some of the best R&B and Blues musicians ever. Tony can attest to playing drums with B.B. King, Otis Clay, Bobby Blue Bland, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, Albert Collins, Etta James, James Cotton, Katie Webster, Z.Z. Hill, O.V. Wright, Buddy Guy, and the list goes on and on. Tony was born August 12, 1955 in Kissimmee, Florida. He always knew that he wanted to play drums. When he was a baby, his grandmother would put a transistor radio in his crib to calm him and he would tap out the beat of the music. He was playing drums with various local bands in Florida until he graduated from high school. On December 28, 1973 he joined the US Army to get away from his hometown and to explore the world. After three years of Army life, Tony realized it was time to pursue his dream of becoming a world-class drummer. He moved to Chicago in the spring of ’77 along with a group of ex-Army partners. Tony played mostly in the garage with the group while their dream of becoming the next Earth, Wind & Fire seemed far away.
Tony’s aspirations were much higher, and he began to play drums with several well-known local bands. The word got out about this new drummer in town, and before long he met soul singer Otis Clay. He quickly joined Clay’s band and toured with him for a couple years, recording a live album in Tokyo, Japan. From touring and recording with Otis Clay came opportunities to work with other major R&B and Blues artists.
After a jam session in a Chicago club called The High Chaparral, B.B. King jammed with Otis Clay’s rhythm section, including Tony. B.B. liked the rhythm section so much that he asked them to join him as his touring band. So Tony Coleman, Russell Jackson and Leonard Gill became B.B. King’s rhythm section. As fate would have it, Tony was only with B.B. for a few months until B.B.’s ex-drummer returned.
Tony Coleman returned to Chicago and rejoined Otis Clay’s band for another tour in Japan. From Otis Clay, Tony moved to Dallas, Texas in 1980 to play drums for Johnnie Taylor. Tony toured with Johnnie for a couple of years and was then asked to join Bobby Blue Bland, with whom he worked for a few years. In the middle of a combined B.B. King/Bobby Blue BLand tour, B.B. needed a drummer and Tony ended up playing drums for both artists for the remainder of that tour – two shows a night.
At that point, Tony rejoined B.B. King and has since been touring with Mr. King’s organization performing blues music around the globe.
In addition to touring with B.B. King, he writes songs for various blues artist. He has written jingles for Northwest Airlines and Calloway Golf Company; he’s also featured in a television commercial for Calloway Golf introducing the Odyssey White Hot Putter. But Tony is most at home when he is behind a drum set playing the blues.
His first CD, Out in the Open, received great reviews, with guest artists Lucky Peterson, Kenny Neal and Frankie Lee contributing their talents. His second album, Travelin’ Man, was released in the U.S. in February 2002 and featured such guests as the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section, Lucky Peterson and other great names of blues.