Elliot Fine, born May 7, 1925 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, began drumming at the age of 11 and spent his early years playing jazz and backing some of the idiom's greats. His career ran the gamut from drum corps, burlesque, Dixieland, show band, big band, small group jazz, and pop, to over 40 years as a member of the Minnesota Orchestra. Fine bypassed a formal audition for the Orchestra, being hired directly by conductor Anton Dorati, based on his freelance work as an auxiliary percussionist for five years prior to his full time hire.
Fine taught for many years both privately and on the faculty of the University of Minnesota and, in 1963, he teamed with his orchestra section mate Marvin Dahlgren to produce a groundbreaking drumset method book, 4-Way Coordination, that would forever influence drummers worldwide with its concept of developing equal independence between all four limbs. "The drum set is like an orchestra in and of itself," Fine explained. "This allows one person to cover many parts using all four limbs to achieve that end."
Along with Dahlgren, and on his own, Fine produced a prolific pedagogy of drumset method books, including Accent on Accents and Moves and Grooves, and percussion ensemble pieces, including the popular Milo's March — named for Milo Fine, his only son who is well known internationally for his Free Jazz Ensemble and his no-holds-barred approach to music. Fine also recorded with his son on several CD's including, Surges/Suspensions, Comme Toujours, and Percussion Music: Improvised - Milo Fine/Davu Seru/Elliot Fine on Shihshihwuai Records.
Elliot Fine passed away on May 4th, 2012, just three days shy of his 87th birthday. Aside from his professional accomplishments, he is remembered as a loving husband, father and brother. He survived his wife Agnes, a noted artist, in death and is survived by son Milo, and brother Leo, a life-long professional trumpeter. He will also be remembered by his countless friends and students for his sense of humor, described by no less than Terry Bozzio as "Sharp as a tack & intensely funny." Near the end of his life, Marvin Dalhgren remembers, he told friends "I'm going to be 86. I should be 87 but I was sick for a year!"
His legacy will live on through the countless number of drummers worldwide he influenced through his teaching. It is a group that includes everyone from masters of the art to young students alike.