Eddie Bayers was born in Pautaxant River, Maryland. Eddie’s father, a naval fighter pilot during World War Two, is credited with the longest dogfight in that war. He also fought at Iwo Jima, in the Marshall Islands, the Coral Sea and the infamous Battle of Midway. He spent 30 years in the Navy as a fighter pilot, commanded a helicopter squadron during the Korean War, and was also a jet test pilot for the Navy. Being the son of a military man, Eddie grew up in various parts of the US, and spent 4 years of his life in North Africa.
Trained as a classical pianist, it was during his college years in California that his musical interests took a turn. “I loved playing the music…but I was in an interpretive mode. In the collegiate years you are subject to interpreting the music exactly the way the professors think you should. To me, it was more fun feeling it the way I wanted to feel it. Not to demean the original composer, but I was starting to see there was a creative part of music.”
Eddie began jamming with local musicians, including Jerry Garcia and Tom and John Fogerty (of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame) and through Tom he became involved with studio work. Soon, he began hearing good reports about the Nashville music community. “Capabilities for being a session player were diminishing in the West Coast because of self contained bands, the overdubs – things like that”, Eddie says. “You could still do well in the movie soundtrack end, but for the commercial side of music, it looked like Nashville was the place where it was going to happen.” After moving to Nashville, he auditioned at a club as a piano player, and the drummer for the quartet was none other than the infamous Larrie Londin. Larrie inspired Eddie to play drums professionally.
Establishing himself in Nashville as one of the top studio drummers, Eddie has since worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Vince Gill, George Strait, Alan Jackson, Steve Winwood, Peter Frampton, Bob Seger, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Uncle Kracker……well the list goes on and on. Playing on hundreds of gold and platinum albums and numerous movie soundtracks, he has received the Academy of Country Music Drummer of the Year Award for 11 straight years, something that no artist or musician has yet accomplished within the academy’s history. Recently, Eddie won his 13th award for 2008. He won the “Top Ten” award in Music Row magazine, which is given to musicians who play on the most top ten Country albums in Billboard magazine so many times, that he still has played drums on the most top ten albums in country for the past 12 years. He was put into the Honor Roll for Modern Drummer Magazine for winning the readers poll 5 years consecutively. DRUM Magazine named Eddie one of the Top Ten Session Drummers Of All Time.
Eddie was elected to the NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) Board of Governors in 1992 thru 1994, again in 1997 thru 1999, and yet again from 1999 thru 2001. He serves on the NARAS Educational Committee, as well as on the board for Music Cares, a NARAS program to help industry people in need. He is a graduate of Leadership Music’s first class in 1990. Leadership Music is an extensive course that educates candidates in all facets of the entertainment industry.
In a nutshell, Eddie is Nashville’s first-call session drummer and certainly one of the busiest musicians in the world. His calendar is booked months in advance to provide the beat behind country music’s biggest stars, as well as pop icons like Mark Knopfler, Lyle Lovett and Sting.
Eddie was once part of the coolest band in town, The Notorious Cherrybombs, which consised of Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, Richard Bennett, Tony Brown, Hank DeVito, Eddie, Michael Rhodes and John Hobbs. The band re-united to honor Crowell at the 2003 ASCAP Country Awards dinner. From the second they hit the stage, it was as if not a day had passed. The players knew this was no one-off performance. With their long-awaited debut release, the Notorious Cherry Bombs took Country music by storm. They were nominated for Grammies in both the Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Best Country Song categories.
On Feb.13, 2010, Eddie was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame. As one of country music’s busiest and most admired drummers over the last thirty years, Bayers was honored as part of the museum’s ongoing Nashville Cats series, a quarterly program that pays tribute to veteran musicians who have proven integral to the city’s role as a leading recording center. Interviewed by series host Bill Lloyd, Bayers traced his unusual, wide-ranging career in a ninety-minute program before an attentive audience in the museum’s Ford Theater.