WWOZ Remembers Larry Panna

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Published on: August 27th, 2008

Larry "Guy" Panna. Photo courtesy of Panna Family Archives.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.

Departed legends Earl Turbinton, Jr. and Larry "Guy" Panna. Photo courtesy of Panna Family Archives.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.


JoycelynJenkins's picture

Larry "Unc" Panna you are now officially a part of the music history of New Orleans and abroad. Gone, but will never forgotten as one of the Greatest Drummers to grace the stages of dance halls, clubs and theaters. Rest in Peace my Dear Sweet Uncle. Love Ya, Niecy Joycelyn

Dad, I have admired you and tried to follow in your footsteps all of life. You are an inspiration to me and Lance and I will continue to tell your story to your grandchildren and others. You are greatly missed...play on "Funky Drummer"...

To all family and friends, thank you for taking time to visit this site and reading about my father. God bless you all!

Love, Lil' Larry
PS Thanks Cuz!

I knew that Uncle Larry played the drums, but I did not know that he was a History maker. I miss him and our talks. He was always full of wisdom and smiles. His work is amazing to me.

Alan J. Labostrie

Larry was a dear friend of mine going back to 1969 when he worked at then LSUNO in the printing department. You forgot to mention in your article that he also played a while with James Rivers . . .If you remember in the early seventies there was a late set at Syvia's on Freret which started around 4:00/5:00AM as I recall . . . Larry was a member of Rivers set during that time period.

On a personal note, Larry was a great friend and a really genuine human being. I moved out of N.O. in 1984 and Larry was one person whom I always looked up when I was in town . . .We'd go & hangout in "Gertown" (which is where he grew up) in some little bar catching up on old times. I could go on but suffice it to say that Larry is missed and will never be forgotten . . . His music put him "on the map" but his character made him the man that we knew and loved . . .

JoycelynJenkins's picture

5 long years have gone by but your memory is still as alive as the last time I looked upon that gorgeous face.... You are sorely missed, but the one thing I know is we will meet again. Love you, forever

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