His Beat Will Be Missed

Tim Mooney 1958-2012
* photo by Jude Mooney, also pictured.

So the guy with perfect timing died too soon because his heart stopped. What kind of poetic injustice is this?

Tim Mooney, the most musical drummer I’ve had the good fortune to play with so far, has died in the middle of life.

I only heard of it, nearly a month late, due to being in the UK and outta the loop.

Here is a brief remembrance of him.

Tim Mooney was an incredible artist, the title “drummer” is totally inadequate in describing him. He was a musician and a songwriter and could reference absolutely any style, his knowledge of pop, rock, alternative, film soundtrack scores, and underground culture was truly encyclopedic. Yet he was never a show off. He just knew. Tim made everything he did look easy. I have never played with another drummer who could drive the beat from behind like that. How he did it I’ll never know but he could play a slow song with such urgency that you couldn’t believe it when you checked the BPM. Yet could play fast songs that had huge spaces in the beat. How do you do that?

He could play with a fag hanging out of his mouth, slouching on his stool, with a relaxation of someone in a jacuzzi, wrists loose and dangling and just rattle out the most killer rhythm like it was nothing. He invented “the pocket”, had a feel that was totally laid back, yet never sluggish. And the fills! The fills were like something you’d imagine  if Charlie Parker had played drums.

Tim would be embarrassed at the mention of jazz, he never wanted to be considered a “muso” which is why he was probably so low-key about his wide-ranging musical knowledge, but yes, he could’ve been a top jazz drummer if he’d wanted to. He was that tasty good. I always referred to Tim as a musician, never a drummer (no offense to all the musician-drummers out there) because to me, he didn’t play the drums so much as he played music ON the drums. I considered him an equal co-writer on everything we recorded together.

Which brings me to….in addition to the credits given in various music press recognitions of his untimely passing (Toiling Midgets, American Music Club, John Murry)  Tim Mooney was also a key playing/producing and songwriting member of another band, Lil Tiger, never mentioned for the good reason that it is a “lost work” in the library of the late 90s. In addition to the drums and percussion skills that he was widely praised for, in Lil Tiger Tim also played around with other instruments, vintage electronic stuff, weird old keyboards, samplers, and his innate creativity guaranteed that he’d always elicit something interesting from any instrument, even if he wasn’t as virtuosic on it as the drums.  He was also a skilled recording engineer and easy-going to work with in the studio with a dry sense of humour. There were other intangible things about him that were charming too, like the fact that he had a distinctive slouchy way of walking and excellent taste in clothing and accessories but without ever making a big deal about it.

Lil Tiger saw some of Tim Mooney’s, all of our, best work picked up for development and then literally destroyed by music industry shake-ups set in motion by the series of mega-mergers that happened between ’99 and 2001.

I have finally put up the whole unreleased album online (at my anti-label Unowned Artist, available on Bandcamp, link through song below), a task that was begun a while ago and partially completed when I got the awful news, which then spurred me to complete it.  Sadly, I can only put up roughs, because the original tapes were literally erased when us musicians were equally literally locked out of the recording studio due to non-payment by our label which had lost its development deal etcetera and so on. 2 years of all of our lives – poof! The story is there if you go through the digital album and read the notes for each song on there.

It was a truly tragic case of corporate meddling in the affairs of artists and one that seriously derailed my own music career.

But at the end of the day, I’m just really glad I had the pleasure of writing and recording with Tim Mooney.  Except for the fact that he set the bar so high!  I was spoiled for good and now have a hard time understanding why other drummers don’t instantly get it when I ask them to play something like “you know, a Bond theme but … ironic!”

It seems apt to close with one of the Lil Tiger songs, February and the Mayfly, the lyrics of which concern impermanence of even the things that seem most unshakeable.  Tim’s playing is great as ever and on the other 14 tracks as well.  Please do listen and enjoy and remember the legacy of Tim Mooney, musician, songwriter and rhythmatist.

Tim never missed a beat – but his beat will be sorely missed.


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3 Responses to “His Beat Will Be Missed”

  1. jude@judemooney,com Says:

    thank you! You’re a great writer Diana. xo Jude Mooney

  2. Larry Beckett Says:

    tribute & benefit:



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