At 89 years young, Jim is one of the most sought after and respected drum teachers and authors in the music world today. His students have gone on to find success playing or recording with such world renowned artists as: Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Leonard Berstein, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon, Oscar Peterson, Jim Hall, Clarke Terry, George Shearing, Frank Sinatra, Chick Corea, Mel Torme, Junior Mance, Joe Henderson, Zoot Sims, Kenny Wheeler, John Handy, Art Pepper, George Coleman, Herb Ellis, Fred Hersh, Norma Winstone, Sonny Rollins, Joe Williams, Helen Humes, George Benson, Charlie Hayden, Sonny Greenwhich, Diana Krall, Don Thompson, Ed Bickert, Paul McCartney, The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Brian Ferry, Elton John, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Todd Rundren, The Fifth Dimension, Linda Ronstadt, Hall and Oates, Elvis Costello, B.B. King, Diana Ross, The Supremes, Loreena McKennitt, Nellie Furtado, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Gladys Knight, Roberta Flack, Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops, Boy George, George Michael, Patti Labelle, Sting, Feist, Stevie Wonder, The Tragically Hip, Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox among others.
1927: Born in Edinburgh, Scotland.
1936-1942: Special gift for music emerged. Became a featured soloist with a famous children’s choir and performed in major concert venues such as the Usher Hall in Edinburgh and the Mc Ewan Hall in Glasgow.
1946: Entered the S.P.B.A. College of Drumming .
1947: Graduated with the post graduate Diploma from the S.P.B.A. College of Drumming.
1948: Married his long time ballroom dancing partner, Aishah.
1949-1951: Took 4th, 3rd and 2nd in the World Solo Drumming Championships.
1952: Moved with his family to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
1953 -1956: Became a drumming instructor with the R.C.A.F. Pipe Band in Ottawa (1953-56) and won practically every Solo Drum and Drum Corps Championship in North America. Met Max Roach and had a life-altering experience while hearing the Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet during a visit to Toronto. Dedicated his life to the art of jazz drumming performance.
1957-1967: Moved family to Vancouver, B.C. Opened Jim Blackley’s Drum Village, a very successful retail store. Operated a school of modern drumming. At the encouragement of Danny Richmond, drummer for the Charles Mingus quintet, who was so impressed with Jim’s approach to musical performance, wrote and published the now legendary books, Syncopated Rolls for the Modern Drummer Vols. 1 & 2. Performed with the C.B.C. Jazz Workshop. Led his own band in one of the local night clubs. Performed for an extended period with the late Wilf Wylie, one of Canada’s most influential jazz pianists.
1967-1973: Moved family to New York City (Manhattan). Operated a drum studio and performed with a variety of musicians. Lectured at the Julliard School of Music. Was a guest clinician at the New York branch of the Percussive Arts Society.
1973 -1997: Jim and his family moved to Toronto. Operated a drum studio that attracted students from around the world.
1997 – Present: Lives in Barrie, Ontario, and has many international students. Published The Essence of Jazz Drumming and three volumes of Rhythmical Explorations.