Happy birthday to drummer Larry "Guy" Panna Sr., who was born in New Orleans on August 28, 1944. Panna's first cousin was Frank Painia, owner of the Dew Drop Inn.
Larry was a self-taught drummer whose early work in the '60s was with Oliver and the Rockets, the Dell Rays, and Connie and Dwight Fitch. In the late '60s, he recorded with Willie Tee (Turbinton) as a member of the Gaturs, and he has co-writer's credit on the single, "Cold Bear."
Panna is probably best known as a member of Willie Tee's New Orleans Project, the band that put the funk behind the first two recordings of the Mardi Gras Indian tribe, the Wild Magnolias. Other members of the Project were Willie Tee, Earl Turbinton, Jr., Julius Farmer, Snooks Eaglin and Alfred "Uganda" Roberts.
Larry Panna passed on February 23, 2007, from colon cancer. His son said about him, "He was a tremendous drummer with an incredible zest for music playing. Outside of music he was a printer and a coach at St. Martin's Episcopal School in Metairie for many years."
In the book The Colors of Excellence by Pearl Rock Kane and Alfonso J. Orsini, Panna is cited as one the biggest influences at St. Martin's on African American adults. "Larry was beloved by many of the students," say the authors.