Northeast Hall of Famer George Ballard dies at 92

George Ed­ward “Butch” Bal­lard, a le­gendary jazz drum­mer from Frank­ford and 2010 in­duct­ee in­to the North­east Phil­adelphia Hall of Fame, died Sat­urday.

Bal­lard was 92 and was pre­de­ceased by his wife of 67 years, Jessie.

Over the years, Bal­lard worked with su­per­stars such as Count Basie, Duke El­ling­ton, Louis Arm­strong, Ella Fitzger­ald, Sarah Vaughn and Pearl Bailey.

In later years, Bal­lard taught mu­sic and per­formed loc­ally. The Butch Bal­lard Trio was a fix­ture at the an­nu­al Frank­ford Fest­iv­al and was the Sat­urday night house band at the former mozaic res­taur­ant at 4524 Frank­ford Ave.

Born in Cam­den, N.J., he grew up on Hawthorne Street in Frank­ford. He’d watch the many Amer­ic­an Le­gion parades and fo­cus on the drum­mer.

He lived much of his adult life on Plum Street, and was a 23rd Ward Demo­crat­ic com­mit­tee­man, block cap­tain and trust­ee at Second Baptist Church.

At War­ren G. Hard­ing Middle School and North­east High School, he played in the band. He later served in World War II.

For his mu­sic­al tal­ents and com­munity in­volve­ment, he re­ceived many awards.

In 2006, he earned the Mel­lon Jazz Com­munity Award and donated the $5,000 prize to the Phil­adelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Per­form­ing Arts Inc.

In 2007, he re­ceived a pro­clam­a­tion and a mini­ature Liberty Bell dur­ing a City Coun­cil ses­sion.

In 2008, he was filmed at mozaic as part of a doc­u­ment­ary about the former Sa­voy Ball­room in Har­lem and its famed Swing Era drum­mer, Wil­li­am Henry “Chick” Webb.

Last Oc­to­ber, he was in­duc­ted in­to the North­east Phil­adelphia Hall of Fame dur­ing a ce­re­mony at Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity. He was too ill to at­tend, and WRTI ra­dio per­son­al­ity Bob Per­kins ac­cep­ted on his be­half.

“Butch was really be­loved in the Frank­ford com­munity, re­spec­ted in the jazz com­munity and known throughout the world as a jazz mu­si­cian,” said Jack Mc­Carthy, pro­ject dir­ect­or for the loc­al Hall of Fame. “He brought cred­it to North­east Phil­adelphia.”

Oth­er hon­ors came from New York’s Lin­coln Cen­ter, the His­tor­ic­al So­ci­ety of Frank­ford and state Sen. Tina Tartagli­one (D-2nd dist.).

Fu­ner­al ar­range­ments were in­com­plete as the Times went to press.

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