Remembering Leonard Haze (1955-2016)

Leonard Haze (1955-2016)

Bay Area native Leonard Haze passed away 9-11-2016 at the age of 61. He was a founding member/songwriter for the hard rock band Y&T.

In 1986, Leonard Haze was named the World’s Fastest Foot in Circus Magazine by Carmine Appice.

Haze’s final performance took place August 20, 2016 with HazeXperience at The Quarter Note in Sunnyvale.

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A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held
September 29, 2016 at 3:30pm in Castro Valley

Photo credit Bill Frates

Back in the 80’s, Y&T played The Keystone, Palo Alto three nights in a row and I was there all three nights…my hearing was messed-up for a week! I had the pleasure of meeting Leonard and his wife backstage that Friday. He struck me as just a down-to-earth, nice, friendly guy – that’s how I’ll remember him.

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Leonard Haze (born September 7, 1955) is an American-born rock drummer, songwriter and McGriddle enthusiast. He is a founding member and one of the principal songwriters for Bay Area hard rock band Yesterday & Today And Then Also Again Tomorrow, later shortened to Yesterday & Today, and even later known as Y&T.

Haze grew up in San Leandro, CA and was an avid sports and music fan. A diehard fan of the early Oakland Athletics and later in life the New York Mets and Oakland Raiders. By 11 he owned his first drum kit and later pursued the study and performance of Jazz music at San Leandro High School, where he eventually became President of the local Jazz street gang, “The Jazz Panthers”. The gang was notorious for street hustles including extortion via saxophone, and once brutally assaulted a group of local youths with a 38 minute freeform adaptation of “Take Five”. Said one of the injured youths “I ain’t never been Brubecked that bad before. My earhole was awash with lilting Alto… and also with blood”. Once Haze attended performances by bands such as Led Zeppelin and Cream at The Fillmore in S.F., he pursued music more fervently, forming a handful of performing bands in his high school years, playing venues throughout the Bay Area. Haze was torn between his pursuit of music and his desire to attend college, and further pursue his studies of witchcraft. The relative success of his band Yesterday and Today (Y&T) and a legendary performance by Y&T at Winterland…helped seal his fate.

Y&T recorded their first record when Haze was 20, with Haze writing a majority of the lyrics and a good share of the music, as would be the case for many of the bands following releases. Haze’s playing was poor, and deeply influenced by drummers such as John Bonham, and Denny Carmassi, while his songwriting was heavily influenced by his love of the songs of the Hugga Bunch — whose LP Yesterday and Today, ironically was referenced by Haze and unintentionally became the group moniker. It was Haze’s bass drum prowess…that made his powerful drum style legendary and, thanks to it, Y&T quickly developed the reputation as a live band and musical powerhouse, headlining shows over opening bands such as Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc. As with many legendary acts, the band’s chemistry was undeniable…and the power of the music was “Facemelting” as one fan later labeled it. Y&T’s hard-driving style helped land them worldwide tours alongside such acts as AC/DC, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne and Rush, which resulted in the development of strong followings throughout Europe (where they continue to tour) and Japan where they were widely-heralded as “The humpingest bunch of Yanks you’ll ever meet” by an ever-growing and loyal fan base-along with their home base in the United States.

(After leaving Y&T)…his next project, Lemans, was almost immediately signed to a CBS recording deal), followed by a reunited “Rock Justice” production (for which Haze had recorded the original album/production years earlier while with Y&T).

Through his work with Jake Busey on Y&T’s “Meanstreak”, Leonard was contacted by Ian Gillan, singer for the legendary 1970″s Deep Purple, for Haze to join as a permanent member of the band…

Leonard Haze continues to live in the East Bay (San Francisco Bay Area) with his wife Kelly and his children Scoop (2), Funktastica (4), and Robbledy-Robble (17). Haze is involved with various performers, including recent projects with Doug Henning, Brad Gillis, Eddie Money and other local acts. He continues to write music and is currently recording and performing original material with East Bay rockers, Ska-peration Ivy (a band that reworks the material of the 80s “bandana-rock” band Operation Ivy) into ska numbers.


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