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  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

Don Glaza

Note: On October 29 I received a PM from musician/recording artist/producer Drew Ballantyne:

"Can you tell me anything about a drummer named Don Glaza?"

"Yes. Played with him for decades. What do you want to know?"

"Everything I can...I’m helping clear the estate. I want to be able to give something more sentimental to his family so I am looking for stories and frankly some help identifying drum sets and cymbals he might have particularly liked or had sentimental value attached to.."

"Ok. If you want, I’ll write a little piece on Don, and my memories of him. Especially so if you’re going to share it with his family."

"That would mean the world to them, seriously 🙏"


I first met Don Glaza sometime in the eighties. I had a little variety trio called "The Regular Guys." Brian Tracy was a keyboard player who played key bass and saxophone. I met Brian in 1979 when we were both in the Norvells Show. The Regular Guys grew out of a duo I had with Brian called, "A Couple of Guys."

Anyway, we were in the market for a drummer, especially one who could sing at least backups, and was versatile; when I say "versatile" I mean it in the broadest terms possible. We went from Jazz standards to Van Halen to Hank Williams - all on the same gig.

I remember me and Brian showing up at the Funhouse Pizza in Raytown (a suburb of Kansas City) to check out Don, who was playing there. Subsequently, Don became a Regular Guy.

September 7, 2013

Don was the kind of guy that I, as a band leader, looked for. Easy to get along with, a good musician, and no drama. In short, a regular guy! We played countless gigs together over the years.

In fact, it's difficult to come up with stories about Don because he was so good-natured. The lack of drama around him is not good for storytelling. As far as I can tell, there were no drinking problems, no drug problems and no women problems.

Don was a sensitive and intuitive drummer. Even though I say he was intuitive, that doesn't mean he couldn't conceptualize and articulate what was going on. He was very self-aware. The following is from a previous blog called, A Fraction of a Second. Don is the drummer in this story:

I had worked with both the bass player and the drummer [Don] in different bands but this was the first time those two had played together in the same group. The bass player also sang lead and he was very good at both.

He was also a very intuitive player and didn't always conceptualize or articulate well when there was a problem.

There was a problem. I could tell he was unhappy and his frustration and anger were escalating. This time I had a good idea of what the problem was.

On the first break, I told the drummer,

"Look man, this guy likes to play behind the beat - that's one of the things I like about his playing; he swings like hell. But his singing is right on top. He plays behind where he sings. So you need to keep the tempo right on top of where he counts it off and don't deviate, no matter where the bass is landing."

The drummer said,

"That actually makes a lot of sense to me because I'm getting conflicting signals. The bass is telling me to pull it back a little but his body language is telling me the opposite."

From then on the night went smoothly; disastrous band fight on stage averted. Whew!

Don was aware of the conflicting signals he was getting. That's an illustration of his sensitivity as a player and as a person.

Another illustration of Don's sensitivity and musical sensibilities is the fact that he played with some of the heaviest jazz cats around, and yet could play and sing Hank Williams Jr's "Family Tradition" with complete commitment and conviction. It's not often you can find a musician like that.

Up until I was in my forties, I suffered from migraine headaches. I'd get 3 or 4 a year. They were pretty brutal. If I didn't get to a dark room where I would go to sleep, which was a defense mechanism, I would spend several hours in debilitating pain complete with puking my guts out.

Well, one night I was on a Regular Guy gig with a migraine. I had puked in the alley behind the venue and was sitting in the dark for a few minutes before having to go back onstage to the excruciating lights, noise and cigarette smoke.

Don came up to me and said,

"You know, there's a metaphysical thing you can do that might help. When you breathe in, visualize green. When you breathe out, visualize brown. In with the green, out with the brown. In with nature's health and well-being and out with the disease and decay."

"Thanks Don" I said dismissively. I thought that dealing with the kind of pain I was in "metaphysically" was futile. No medication I'd ever tried could touch the pain whatsoever, so I didn't believe "visualizing" my pain away could work.

Without going into the details, I've since learned otherwise and no longer suffer with migraines. Occasionally I'll get a migraine aura but it doesn't progress into pain.

There ARE alternative approaches to health and wellness that involve a "metaphysical thing." Don was ahead of me on that learning curve.

Don was a collector and tinkerer. Every week he made a pawn shop run and scooped up all kinds of stuff; drums, guitars and other musical instruments.

When one of my sons became interested in playing drums, Don put a pawn shop drum set together and sold it to me for a ridiculously low price.

My son, Evan, performing on the pawnshop drum set Don put together for him. May 10, 2008
April 23, 2005

Most people don't know that Don was also a guitar player. He played guitar before he became a drummer. He was a knowledgeable guitar tech and I used him occasionally for setup and fretwork, as well as electronics issues.

In 2011 I bought a 1972 Telecaster from a friend. The pots were dirty and the neck pickup didn't work. I gave the guitar to Don to clean it up, do a setup on it and repair the pickup.

He called me and said,

"This pickup is totaled. It's not repairable. However, I just happen to have a Seymour Duncan Tele neck pickup in a drawer here, I'll just give it to you and install that if you want."

That's the kind of guy he was; he just gave me that pickup for free, unsolicited. I still have that guitar, and gig with it regularly.

Don and me with the '72 Tele Don set up for me. October 27, 2012.

In 2001 Don became the house drummer for Mama Ray's Saturday Afternoon Jam at Harling's. In that capacity I played with him every week until his untimely death in February of 2014 at age 58.

Don struggled with his weight the whole time I knew him. I'm sure that was a factor in his demise. I heard that he died in his sleep. I'll never forget that Wednesday morning phone call from Mama Ray. She was crying.

"Don is dead!" she said.

And so we soldier on at the Jam, rotating half a dozen different drummers - that's how many it takes to replace Don - and it's a rare Saturday afternoon that I don't think of Don while playing that gig.

Promo shot: April 16, 2011
Last picture I have of Don: Allen Monroe, Lori Tucker, myself and Don. January 16, 2014.

Live TV appearance; KSHB-TV 41, Kansas City Live - April 2nd, 2013.


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