I THINK it was the late, great jazz trumpeter George Bernard Shaw who said: ‘One doesn’t stop playing when you get old, one gets old when one stops playing.’

Which would go some way to explain why veteran drum maestro Dougie Cooper, who next week celebrates his 90th (yes, NINETIETH!) birthday is looking so sprightly these days.

And Dougie, who was born in Weymouth way back in 1929, will be marking the occasion with a special party at The Star pub, his local in the town’s Park Street, next Tuesday, September 3, followed by his regular, second Tuesday of the month jazz get-together the following week on September 10, again at The Star.

So what drives the hugely respected musician to keep playing while many have hung up their bows, plectrums, sticks or reeds?

”I’ve been playing all my life, I’ve always been gigging, and all my pals are all musicians,” he tells me over his regular - and purely medicinal - evening snifter at his home off the seafront.

“So while I still can play, why should I stop?” he asks.

Why indeed.

He can remember as a five-year-old being sat behind his 9d. drum and being taught how to hold the sticks correctly by his drummer father.

 “I remember rushing home to Pye Hill from Holy Trinity School to play along with Henry Hall on the radio. I knew then that that was what I wanted to do with my life,“ Dougie says.

And what a life it’s been.

From his first drum solo as a 12-year-old boy wonder at the town’s Regent Ballroom, moving up to music college in London where he learnt tympani and glockenspiel to go with his already awesome drumming talent, it’s been one huge adventure.

Dougie, who rates the ‘superhuman’ Buddy Rich as the greatest drummer of all time, landed his first professional gig as a teenager in the orchestra pit at the London Palladium, accompany showbiz legends of the day, including the Marx Brothers, and going on to play with many of the big bands of the time, such as Ted Heath and Tommy Sampson.

As can be expected of a guy who has spent the best part of eight decades in the entertainment business, there are countless terrific tales to be told.

Dougie tells me of the time he was playing at the Pavilion in Weymouth, backing Matt Monro and Dusty Springfield, when he fell backwards off a collapsing drum kit and riser which hadn’t been securely set up by a stage crew who were clearly very refreshed after celebrating the end of a long summer season.

Or the time he was touring with the Tito Burns Orchestra behind the Iron Curtain and managed to evade armed Russian guards in East Berlin as he sought a desperately needed but unauthorised loo break from a moving tour bus.

Between regular recording sessions at Abbey Road, he managed to tour with Geraldo and his orchestra which took him to a gig in Monte Carlo where he was invited to use Prince Ranier’s exclusively-made drum kit. He used to play a bit himself, apparently

“We were supposed to be backing Sinatra, however ‘the money wasn’t right for Frank’, Dougie says.

Dougie even had time to try and teach a teenage me the rudiments of drumming in Weymouth in the Seventies. He did his best…

But his happiest years were in the late Seventies when he moved to Grand Rapids in Michigan to be with his soon-to-be-wife Blanche.

He sat in with a jazz trio in a bar one night and so impressed a watching Bruce Early, he invited him to join his red-hot band who were playing prestige dates across the state.

He met up with top musicians Al Grey, Buddy Tait and Jimmy Forrest, who all played with the Count Basie Orchestra and were knocked out by the talented Englishman.

“When the call came in from Basie’s office asking if I’d like a three-week residency in Chicago with his band, I thought someone was pulling my leg,” he says.

“It was quite incredible but if I’d played any longer than three weeks, I think I would have died of joy!”

Thankfully, the oldest swinger in town didn’t and he’s looking forward to his big night next Tuesday.

“Dawn and her team at the pub have been so good to me.. They even pop over the road to help me with my kit so Tuesday will be a big thank you to everyone there too,” says Dougie.


Be Bop A Lula (Weymouth Pavilion)

Edd Bleach, Martin Saint, Jamie Pinnow, Elijah Wolf, Mike Dennis (Belvedere, Weymouth)

Komakino (Finns, Weymouth)

Matt Black (Wyke Smugglers, Weymouth)

The Rock Band (Royal Portland Arms, Portland)

Speedway Snails (Golden Lion, Weymouth)

Micha D (Gloucester, Weymouth)

Adagio (Weymouth Working Mens Club)

Georgie Broad (Wyke Regis Working Mens Club, Weymouth)

Matt Lock (John Gregory, Weymouth)

Ricky Solo (Edinburgh House of Sounds, Weymouth)

Martin Freed (Duke of Cornwall, Weymouth)

Jess Upton and the Guilty Pleasures (Pymore Inn, Bridport)

Kelly Lorraine (Black Dog, Weymouth)

Guitarmadillo (King’s Arms, Weymouth)

Pam Johns (Duke of Albany, Weymouth)


Bootleg Blues Bothers (Weymouth Pavilion)

Jolly Boys Outing (Finns, Weymouth)

Minor Fret, Richard Swann, Shaun Brown (Belvedere, Weymouth)

Tripod (Golden Lion, Weymouth)

Tequila Mockingbird (Sailors Return, Weymouth)

Brace Yourself (Gloucester, Weymouth)

Highly Likely (Weymouth Working Mens Club)

Sneakers (Wyke Regis Working Mens Club, Weymouth)

Dickie Celebration (Waterloo, Weymouth)

Steve Nicholas (Weymouth Conservative Club)

Richard Cooper (Edinburgh House of Sounds, Weymouth) 2pm

Ricky Solo (Edinburgh House of Sounds, Weymouth)

The Shakespearos (Park, Weymouth)

Leggomen (Old Ship, Dorchester)

Strings and Reeds (Duke of Albany, Weymouth)

Under The Carousel (Duke of Cornwall, Weymouth)

Martin Saint (Black Dog, Weymouth)

Skinful (Crown, Bridport)

Rachel Scott (King’s Arms, Weymouth)


Back to Bacharach (Weymouth Pavilion)

Minor Fret, The Shakespearos, The Katz, The Urinal, Surfing Birds, Paisley (Belvedere, Weymouth) From 4pm.

Hamish Jeffcott (Kings Arms, Portesham) 3-5pm.

Replay (Red Lion, Hope Sq, Weymouth) 2pm.

Roger’s Singalong (Gloucester, Weymouth)

Ricky Solo (Sailor’s Return, Weymouth)  From 3pm.

Jim Reynolds (Ropemakers, Bridport)

Georgie Broad (Black Dog, Weymouth) 4-7pm.

Finnian (King’s Arms, Weymouth)

Di’s Open Mic (Duke of Albany, Weymouth)


Tim Andrews (Edinburgh House of Sounds, Weymouth)


Dougie Cooper’s Birthday Jazz Club (Star, Weymouth)

Ricky Solo (Edinburgh House of Sounds, Weymouth)

Open Mic Night (Duke of Cornwall, Weymouth)


Wessex Folk Night (Sailors Return,  Weymouth) Acoustic folk, here every Wednesday.

Open Mic Night (Rock, Weymouth)

Open Mic Night (Ropemakers, Bridport)

Tim Andrews (Edinburgh House of Sounds, Weymouth)

Dave Bowen and Jazz Friends (The Three Compasses, Charminster)


Ricky Solo (Edinburgh House of Sounds, Weymouth)

Traditional Tune Session (Cove House Inn, ChiswelI, Portland

Ukulele Sessions (Sailors Return,  Weymouth) Strum on down from 8pm.


Studio 55 (Finns, Weymouth)

Jim Hammond (Royal Portland Arms, Portland)

Chris Woodchuck  (Weymouth Working Mens Club)

Bring Me The Pistols (Golden Lion, Weymouth)

Showcase Open Mic (Gloucester, Weymouth)

Fat Marrow Blues Band (Ropemakers, Bridport)

Stacey Lou (Wyke Regis Working Mens Club, Weymouth)