Tifton Gazette

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September 8, 2012

Tarrant still rockin’

TIFTON — A native of Adel who was the former drummer for Jerry Lee Lewis and member of The Alabama State Troupers has experienced many obstacles in his life starting at a very young age — the fame, drugs, alcohol and sex. Now, saved and at the “young age of 69,” he says, his desire is to share his testimony with children, teenagers and adults, as well as give advice about music, in the Tifton area.

Robert Morris Tarrant, better known as “Tarp” after Lewis gave him the nickname because he couldn’t pronounce “Tarrant” when they first met, is currently a resident at Golden South Assisted Living in Sycamore. He said the nickname stuck and he’s been known as “Tarp” to the music world ever since.

Tarrant played for Lewis for 12 years. He also has a laundry list of other performers he has had the pleasure of working with, including Chuck Berry, Charlie Rich, Liza Minnelli, Elvis, Little Richard, Albert King, Freddie King, B.B. King, Albert Collins, Aretha Franklin, Mac Davis, Mary Wells, The Isley Brothers, Conway Twitty, Neil Young, Lonnie Mack, O.B. McClinton, Isaac Hayes and his group The Soul Children, and many others.

Tarrant noted that he was the first white drummer to play at the legendary Apollo Theater.

He returned to his hometown in 1993, while in his 50s, to help take care of his very ill mother, the late Cleo Tarrant. He had an article written on him by Kelly Whiddon of the local paper when he returned to Adel.

Unfortunately, Tarrant lost his home in a fire two years ago and due to his health (titanium replacements were put in both of his knees), he decided to move to an assisted living center in Adel. After six months, he moved to Golden South in Sycamore and has been living there for three months now. He says that he’s blessed to be at the center, and he has the greatest admiration and respect for the staff, especially Cotina Parsons, who he calls his special angel; Mary Hausler; Iris King, who he calls his special lady; Gloria Edwards, “the best and sweetest cook;” Octavia Green; Nikki Graddic; and Mrs. Judy.

Tarrant said his reason behind moving to Sycamore was because of a very good friend, Davy Davis, who is the owner of Davis Music Company and Cousin Dave’s Homemade Instruments in Tifton. He said that Davis is a very good drum teacher, guitarist, bass player, arranger and a committed writer. Tarrant said he’s assisting Davis in producing and arranging his latest efforts on his new album.

“However, I will also in essence, by the grace of God and for God, make myself available to use my speaking talent and my being a musician to speak to younger people in schools, churches and special events by sharing my testimony about rock and roll, hip hop and rhythm and blues — about how great it really is but also the pitfalls that go along with it, such as drugs, alcohol, sex and crazy behavior,” he stated.

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