Mark Craney, died last November. Sadly, many people today don't know who this Sioux Falls musician was or what he accomplished in his abbreviated lifetime. Some of his friends want to change that.
Whether it was playing, recording and touring the globe with late 70's era heartthrob, Gino Vanelli or the enormously popular Jethro Tull, Mark Craney was arguably one of the most naturally talented, versatile drummers in the world. That's the assessment from other world class musicians who were amazed by Craney's hard driving rhythms and dazzling fills. Syncopated funk as he liked to call it.
Craney was friend and mentor to lots of players, including Al Berven, drummer with the popular band Kory and the Fireflies.
"He was really special. I've been listening to a lot of his stuff since he died and tried to play along with it and it's nearly impossible," Berven says.
While touring with Tower of Power in 1986, what began as an ear infection wound up with Craney's kidneys shutting down. That was followed by dialysis, then a transplant, complications..even a mild stroke.
He rallied and continued to work and teach in Los Angeles but health issues plagued him the rest of his life.
Mark Craney really never lost touch with his South Dakota roots. In fact, when he'd come home for a visit, he liked to go out to the clubs and sit in with bands that were playing.
In 1995, he and two other outstanding Sioux Falls native musician, Mike and Terry Miller joined us on Keloland's early show for a little jazz.
"I think he just adored playing with everybody and he always like to come back here and jam with the players around here, says fellow musician and lifelong friend, Dan Donahoe.
Craney also enjoyed giving drum clinics on his trips home. Budding drummers would always leave with their mouths agog.
Donahoe says it's tragic that Craney's poor health prevented him from doing so much more.
"For certain," he says. "Although the body of work he left behind was huge."
That's why Al Berven has organized a Mark Craney memorial this Wednesday evening at the Raddison Encore Hotel to celebrate the life of this musical genius.
"Local musicians, especially drummers, need to know if they have a dream of making it that somebody did it from Sioux Falls and somebody did it really well," Berven says.
The celebration begins at 7:00pm Wednesday at the Raddison. The program will include some rare video footage of Mark playing in various groups and some reflections from family and friends.
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