Local drummer’s beat goes on

Rock ‘n’ roll veteran Doug English has played to his own beat since he saw Elvis Presley in concert. He and a high school group evolved into “The Canadian Rogues” before taking his talent to the west coast. He would go on to play for several bands, and his now hitting the drums again in the newly formed group, “Firefly.”

Rock ‘n’ roll has been one man’s life since the late 1950s. Throughout his storied career, Doug English played drums for untold bands and met a few legends along the way.

Now the Fancy Farm resident is at it again with a new group called “Firefly,” though he said he really “never left the music industry.”

His passion for music started when he was 10 years old in 1956 when he went to a concert and saw “The King,” Elvis Presley.

After the show, according to English, Presley left out a side door into an alley where mostly women were waiting for him, with English among one of the few boys there. Presley began signing and handing out autographed photos, even to the young English.

It wasn’t long after that he decided that he wanted to be just like Elvis; the only exception was he wanted to be the drummer.

A native of Lakeland, Florida, English and a few others started a band in high school. Over the course of nearly a decade, they evolved into “The Canadian Rogues. The odd part was none of the band made were actually Canadian.

English recalled his manager, John Criswell, telling them not to talk to anyone. If forced into a conversation, Criswell told them to use a faux “north of the border” accent to refer people to him specifically so not to break the illusion.

In 1964, his group was among 15 bands that preceded The Rolling Stones at their first American tour stop in St. Petersburg, Florida. He said The Rolling Stones had to jump into their limo to escape ravenous fans. People were even grappling onto the car as it took off with one holding a wiper bade, he said.

Despite having some measure of success, the Canadian Rogues eventually realized that there wasn’t much work for musicians in Florida. Georgia was the nearest place they could record. The group ultimately decided to head to the west coast, where the action was.

They ended up in Hollywood at the Garden Court Apartments, which was owned by the late actress Debbie Reynolds. Three days after their arrival, however, the group’s bass player grew homesick and left

After unsuccessfully attempting to find someone to replace him, The Canadian Rogues split up for good. English, then 21 years old, ended up stranded in 1970s Los Angeles.

“Looking back, it was a great time,” English said.

He said none of his L.A. friends thought they would make it past 40, and “nobody trusted anyone over 35.”

In 1981, English made his way to Seattle, Washington where he lived for 22 years. This was the time when grunge music was established in the area, so people were excited to see a high-energy band from L.A. While living there, English developed a reputation for being the go-to guy among bands that needed a fill-in drummer.

He now has an extensive list of artists he has played drums for, including The Everly Brothers, Conway Twitty, Brenda Starr, The Dovells, The Shangri-las, Glen Campbell, Cannonball Adderley, Neil Diamond, Monty Rock the 3rd, Ron Marshall, Buck Taylor Soulman, Gregg Sutton, Rudy and the Tubeshakers, Project 70s, and Thin Ice, which changed to the newly formed Firefly.

English eventually found himself in the Diplomat Inn in Paducah where he first met his wife, Melanie, a Fancy Farm native. They have now been married 45 years.

He said music was much more prevalent in this area back then, but now people around here just aren’t that interested anymore. Nevertheless, English lives, eats, and breaths his musical passion and will continue to beat the drums.

“I would make some different decisions but not do anything different, ” he said, looking back.

Firefly’s first album has been delayed but should be available for $11 later this month or early April. While he was reluctant to pin a genre, he said it would be classic rock with country influence. He also said they are already working on a second album.

“You don’t retire music, music retires you,” English said.