Don Gardner, 87, rhythm-and-blues great and head of the Philadelphia Clef Club

September 9, 2018

By Staff

Don Gardner couldn’t wait to begin his musical career: He was just a 16-year-old kid from North Philadelphia in the 1940s, when he started sneaking into area jazz clubs to sing, and would earn international renown as a rhythm-and-blues singer and drummer with a 1962 top-20 hit, “I Need Your Lovin’” with Dee Dee Ford. But, by age 40, he’d sold his drums and, for the most part, given up on performing, disappointed by waning audiences for his work.

It turned out that he was just preparing for a remarkable second act, as mentor and supporter to a new generation of musicians as executive director of the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts.

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