Eric Perrilloux

Rudimental drummer and drum corps instructor was 91

Eric Perrilloux cq of Ridgewood, whose nimble hands and rhythmically complex wizardry earned him legend cq not legendary status in the regimented universe of drum and bugle corps, died Monday. He was 91.

Mr. Perrilloux, a telephone installer by trade, was a widely admired rudimental drummer and, later, a drum corps instructor.

According to his World Drum Corps Hall of Fame biography, the native New Yorker won the first of his many snare-drumming titles in 1939. He honed his skills with the highly regarded Charles T. Kirk Fife, Drum and Bugle Corps.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, he was the drum instructor for well-known regional corps, including the Reilly Raiders of Philadelphia, the New York Skyliners and St. Rita's Brassmen, a junior drum and bugle corps out of Brooklyn.

In an interview posted on YouTube, Mr. Perrilloux said he was 4 years old when he realized he might have a future as a percussionist.

"I was fascinated with these 5-gallon gasoline cans, the big square ones, and when they were empty they were laying around, and I used to beat on those things," he recalled.

Told of that YouTube clip, daughter Patricia McCall said: "I never heard that story, but if he said it, he said it."

She offered up additional details: Her father was self-taught as a drummer and met his wife, Agnes, through drum corps circles (she was a bugler).

"He worked in New York [for the telephone company] because he had to support a family," McCall said, "but drumming was his life."

Jim Drost of Randolph, a drum corps veteran and an alumnus of the Brassmen, said Mr. Perrilloux was a "master" rudimental drummer and an innovator in percussive arrangement who "merged both of those talents into an amazing career."

"There are lots of drum instructors out there," Drost said, "but very few who could play like Erik Eric or demand out of his students that they play like he did."

Drost and other former members of the Brassmen drum line feted their teacher on his 90th birthday at a party at Ridgewood's VFW hall.

"We borrowed drums from Ridgewood High School and they played the music my dad had taught them," McCall said.

During the party, Mr. Perrilloux was asked to |pick up a pair of drumsticks and do his thing. |His performance amazing, considering the |arthritis in his hands can be viewed at

Mr. Perrilloux is survived by his wife of 68 years; his daughters, Patricia McCall of Orlando, Fla., Susan Dolce of Byram and Diane Goodman of Wall Township, and six grandchildren. A son, Robert, died in 1991.

Services were held Thursday at C.C. Van Emburgh Funeral Home, Ridgewood.


Funeral Home

C. C. Van Emburgh - Ridgewood
306 E Ridgewood Ave  Ridgewood, NJ 07450
(201) 445-0344
Published in The Record/Herald News on Jan. 25, 2013