Born in London (UK) on 29 March 1946. His father, Yorke de Souza, was a jazz pianist who arrived in the UK from Jamaica and performed, most notably, with Fats Waller and Ken “Snakehips” Johnson. Barry played with his father on occasion and was even a member of a house band in a London casino before, the story goes, he broke into session work with the help of Martyn Ford and Rick Wakeman, the latter his bandmate in a group called the Spinning Wheel in the late 1960’s.
The mid and late ’70s were de Souza’s heyday as a session musician. He was receiving steady work, performing on film soundtracks and with artists ranging from David Essex to Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues and Kevin Ayers. De Souza played drums on The Saxophone Song, recorded in 1975 by producer Dave Gilmour.
In 1983, after more than a decade of consistent studio calls, sometimes involving multiple sessions per day, de Souza won the drum chair for the London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s exceedingly popular musical ‘Cats’. For years de Souza divided his time between the musical, session work, and performing in his home studio in Enfield, playing host to musicians such as Ray Russell and Morris Pert. He played in ‘Cats’ until the musical closed in 2002. By that time, there wasn’t that much session work anymore.
On 11 March 2009 De Souza died of cancer.
- What Do You Know About… Barry de Souza? Modern Drummer, retrieved 21 September 2017.