The Sensational drummer Ted McKenna (SAHB, Gallagher, MSG, etc.) remembered (1950-2019)
The Scottish drummer Edward “Ted” McKenna (10 March 1950 – 19 January 2019) has died of hemorrhage during a routine operation for a hernia. He was 68.
After playing with Rare Breed (1969) and Dream Police (1970), McKenna made his name by joining Tear Gas for their self-titled second album (1971) before the group turned into The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (1972-78).
McKenna played on all of the albums by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band: Framed (1972), Next… (1973), The Impossible Dream (1974), Tomorrow Belongs to Me (1975), Live (1975), The Penthouse Tapes (1976), SAHB Stories (1976), Fourplay (1977 – As SAHB without Alex) and Rock Drill (1978)
After SAHB disbanded he played with Rory Gallagher (1978-81, playing on the albums “Photo-Finish”, “Top Priority” and “Stage Struck”), The Greg Lake Band (1980–81, performing with Gary Moore), The Michael Schenker Group (1982-84, playing on “Assault Attack”, “Built to Destroy” and live album “Rock Will Never Die”), Phenomena (1985, along with Glenn Hughes on “Still The Night” and “Who’s Watching You”), McKenna’s Gold (1986-88), Ian Gillan (1990) and Fish (1991, ’95). He also played on Nazareth singer Dan McCafferty’s self-titled 1975 album.
In 1992, McKenna and Zal Cleminson (of SAHB) formed The Party Boys (1992-93) with keyboardist Ronnie Leahy from Stone The Crows. They invited singers such as Fish and Dan McCafferty before reuniting with SAHB keyboardist Hugh McKenna, Ted’s cousin. These then reformed SAHB in a line-up featuring Stevie Doherty on vocals – which can be heard on “Live In Glasgow ’93” – before disbaning in 1995. In 2004, McKenna reformed SAHB again with remaining members Zal Cleminson, Hugh McKenna and Chris Glen. Their farewell tour was so successful that they continued to tour until 2009, including a concert at Sweden Rock Festival in 2006. They released the live album “Zalvation” (2005), the band’s first official release since “Rock Drill” with Alex Harvey. In 2008, Cleminson left the band and retired from performing, and was replaced by guitarist Julian Hutson Saxby (who had played with McKenna’s Gold in the ’80’s) before disbanding permanently in 2008.
Although primarily known as a rock musician, McKenna also worked with jazz guitarist John Etheridge, American/Canadian blues guitarist Amos Garrett, American soul duo Womack & Womack (1988), Gwyn Ashton (2004), The Paul Rose Band (2006-2011) and The Rhumboogie Orchestra (2009).
From 2011 on McKenna toured with bassist Gerry McAvoy (who played with Rory Gallagher from 1971-1991) and Dutch guitar virtuoso Marcel Scherpenzeel as Band of Friends, in a celebration to the music of Rory Gallagher. They released the CD/DVD “Too Much Is Not Enough” (2013), “Live & Kickin'” (2015) and the studio album “Repeat After Me” (2016). McKenna also won the ‘Best Musician (performance)’ award at the European Blues Awards 2015.
McKenna and SAHB bass player Chris Glenn reunited with Michael Schenker for Michael Schenker Fest in 2016, an anniversary line-up of all three original MSG vocalists: Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley. In 2016, the band recorded a concert in Tokyo and released a live DVD and double CD package, “Live Tokyo International Forum Hall A” (2017). The studio album “Resurrection” was released last year, including the song “Take Me To The Church” which features McKenna in the video.