Ray Cooper is a British session percussionist whose recording career started in the 1960s, recording with the WHO, among others, and is still going.
Among his early jobs were America, Carly Simon, David Essex, Blue Mink and especially Elton John (he played on most of his '70s albums). He had also played on Nicky Hopkins' 1973 solo album.
Cooper got his short stint with the Stones playing percussion for their 1974 It's Only Rock and Roll album.
Later in that decade he recorded with George Harrison, Bryan Ferry, Wings and Art Garfunkel among others. Since then he's recorded with Paul McCartney and Elton John again, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, the Traveling Wilburys and Ravi Shankar to name just a few.
In 1981, Cooper contributed to Bill Wyman's third solo album. In 1983, he participated in the Clapton, Page, Beck and other stars' (including Bill & Charlie) short tour for the Ronnie Lane ARMS charity.
In 1985, Cooper appeared on both Mick's She's The Boss album and Bill's Willie and the Poor Boys project. In 1997, he was again teamed up with Bill for Struttin' Our Stuff.
Cooper is also serving as Elton John's percussionist in his band, and also for a small exclusive series of shows out of the US. It will be a solo show by Elton John but with Ray Cooper on percussion also. This will be the first time since 1995 that Cooper and John have played together. This is a repeat of the show in the late 1970s that toured extensively across Europe and most notably in Russia.
During 1994 and 1995 Face to Face tours with Billy Joel, and during Elton John's tours in 1995, Elton John would play "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", which would then flow clearly into a solo done by Cooper on the drums and percussion. After about a 7-minute percussion/drum solo, including the ending of the solo where he would complete a "360" on the drums, and break three drum sets by repetitive, extremely fast movements, he would lead the audience in a chant, then hit the giant gong nine times while John closed his segment with "Pinball Wizard". In the 1995 "Evening With Elton John and Ray Cooper" tours the two men performed in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Costa Rica, where Elton would perform a setlist of songs by himself and his piano, then would be joined by Cooper on percussion and drums for the second half setlist of the show.
In every tour during 1990, Eric Clapton and the band would play "Sunshine of your Love", which would then flow clearly into a short one-minute drum solo by Steve Ferrone, then into a 7-minute percussion solo by Ray Cooper on the tambourine, congas, and gong. In the middle of the solo he would lead the audience into a chant lasting about a minute, then finish the solo by shredding the conga drums with his hands, and breaking the giant gong after hitting it 10 times. Then the band finished the song, ending the shows.