Archie Alleyne

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Music, Archie Alleyne Scholarship Fund
Title: Musician
Province: Ontario
Heritage: Canadian

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Archie Alleyne 1933-2015

Dear Friends,

With heavy hearts, we are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Canadian jazz pioneer Archie Alleyne, whose battle with prostate cancer ended on Monday, 8th June at 7:53 am. 

The legendary self-taught drummer, who broke colour barriers in Toronto clubs in the 1940s, was 82. Alleyne, who has made a significant contribution throughout his 60-year career in music, business and philanthropy, had planned to host the launch of his memoir Colour Me Jazz on June 14 at the Paintbox Bistro. The event has been postponed until further notice, and a celebration of his life will be scheduled later this month. 


Viewings for Archie Alleyne will be held on:
Wednesday, 10th June and Thursday 11th June between the hours of 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm
at The Cardinal Funeral Home, 366 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON.

In lieu of flowers, the Alleyne family has requested that donations be made to the Archie Alleyne Scholarship Fund. There is also a social media campaign to commemorate Archie’s memory, with the official hashtag tribute #WithoutThePastThereIsNoFuture

On behalf of the Archie Alleyne family, we thank you for your continued support at this difficult time.

Sincerely, ~Shakura S’Aida


Archie Alleyne Рmusician, entrepreneur, activist, mentor, philanthropist…truly a legend in our time. Over his 60-year career he has made a significant contribution to the fabric of the Canadian music scene, and has made music with some of the finest artists of yesterday and today. Artists such as, Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Teddy Wilson, Chet Baker, Lester Young, Carmen McRae, Nina Simone, Junior Mance, Don Thompson, Ray Bryant, Jackie Richardson, Jon Hendricks, Clark Terry, and many others.

Through his contemporary group, Kollage, the hard bop sextet he co-founded with the late Doug Richardson in 1999, Archie has joined creative forces with accomplished young talents to continue to make timeless music and preserve the tradition of authentic live musicianship.¬†Over his illustrious career, Archie’s ‘straightforward, swinging style distinguished by his deft brush work’, has taken him around the world; touring extensively across North America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.

[pullquote¬†type=”right”]He was one of the first Black musicians to get regular work in Toronto clubs in an era that was stamped “Whites only”.[/pullquote]It started in Toronto in 1933, when Archie was born to a railroad porter and homemaker mother. His passion for music was evident from an early age. His first experimentation with percussion was to pick up a whiskbroom and swish it against a magazine. Archie knew that was how he wanted to make his living, so he dropped out of school at age 16 and focused on teaching himself the fundamentals of the drums by listening to the radio and jamming¬†with his buddies at every opportunity.

Although he enrolled in carpentry school as a promise to his father, he spent more time in jam sessions than he did in study sessions. Archie got his first paid gig in 1949, when he took home $3 for playing at a function in a church basement. Archie has not looked back since then, despite coming of age in the fiercely competitive¬†music scene during a time when Black Canadians were treated separately and unequally to Whites. He was one of the first Black musicians to get regular work in Toronto clubs in an era that was stamped “Whites only”. He secured a steady engagement at Toronto’s Parkside Tavern for $35 per week, and from 1955-1970, went on to become the house drummer at the high profile Colonial Tavern and Town Tavern.¬†From 1970 to 1982, Archie was co-owner of the Underground Railroad Soul Food Restaurant that was frequented by tourists and celebrities from around the world.

Archie is also well-known for his activism. He spoke out in 1982 when the Canada Council excluded jazz artists from receiving funding from their recording program (which, at the time, was only for classical artists). In the mid-1980s he successfully led a high profile lobby effort to ensure that Black musicians were represented in the Toronto Jazz Festival. As a proud Canadian, he also lobbied festival programmers in the United States to include more Canadian musicians in their line-ups and appealed to Canadian companies to invest in the Canadian music scene through sponsorship.

Archie continues to add to his immense contributions to Canadian society. Through his Evolution of Jazz musical theatre production, he shares the historical legacy and societal impact of Black music with audiences. Through the Archie Alleyne Scholarship Fund and the Evolution of Jazz Ensemble, he offers mentorship and resources to provide talented young musicians with the opportunity to further their formal music training and assist in their career development.

Archie remains active on the live performance circuit. He has a lot of stories to tell, and will share them in his upcoming autobiography, Colour Me Jazz, written with Dr. Sheldon Taylor.

Ross Porter Interviews Archie Alleyne (JAZZ.FM91)


  • AFM Charles Walton Advocate Semi-Finalist Award (2007)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Urban Music Association of Canada (2005)
  • Gemini Award Nomination,¬†Best Performance or Host in a Variety Program or Series –¬†Makin’ Noise for Salome Bey (2005)
  • Acoustic Group of the Year at the National Jazz Awards – Kollage (2004)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – African Canadian Achievement Awards (2003)
  • International Association of Jazz Education Recognition for Outstanding Service to Jazz Education (2003)
  • Toronto Arts Award for Significant Artistic Excellence and Achievement (2000)
  • Jazz Report Award in Recognition of Musical Excellence and Drummer of the Year (1993)
  • Certificate of Patronage for contribution to the progress of Peter King College of Music, Nigeria (1990)
  • Canadian Black Music & Black Pioneer Award.
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Five Favourites

Favourite book
Langston Hughes, and Paris Noir, African Americans in the City of Light by Tyler Stovall. I have enjoyed many books that pertain to America’s only original art form.

Favourite quote
“Without the past, there is no future.”

On my¬†bucket list…
Own and manage a jazz nightclub. Specifically, to re-create the Cotton Club.

Inspiring people
My family

My fuel
I love music and I want to see young people progress in the music industry as professional musicians.

Connect with Archie Alleyne:

 Website | Archie Alleyne Scholarship | Twitter | Twitter 2 | Facebook 

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