Spanky DeBrest

Spanky DeBrest

Acoustic Bass icon Acoustic Bass

Age Icon

March 2, 1973 (Age 35) died

Birthday Icon

April 24, 1937 Birthday

Birthplace Icon

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. Birthplace

Social Icon



Spanky DeBrest was hard bop bassist who worked with some of the biggest names in jazz. He came out of the Philadelphia jazz scene and is best known for his work with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, who he played with from 1956 -1958. That iteration of the Messengers also featured Thelonious Monk and Bill Hardman. DeBrest also recorded with John Coltrane, Ray Draper, J.J. Johnson and Lee Morgan. Sadly, he passed away at the young age of 36.


Both the Art Blakey tune "Cranky Spanky" and the Alfie Pollitt song "Spanky Wanky" are named in reference to Spanky DeBrest

Early Life

Jimmy "Spanky" DeBrest was born in Philadelphia in 1937. He grew up during the golden age of jazz in Philadelphia, and as a teenager played with other young musicians including McCoy Tyner, Lee Morgan and Eddie Campbell. By the time he was a teenager DeBrest was playing professionally for parties and dances in a combo with Lee Morgan. In 1956 DeBrest was asked to fill in when Art Blakey' Jazz Messengers came to Philadelphia. Afterward, he signed on as a member of the group, remaining with the Messengers until 1958.