Donald Alias, Sr., son of Eugene Alias and Violet Richardson, was born
on December 25, 1939 in Harlem, New York. He departed this life on March
29, 2006 in his home at 340 East 90th Street, New York.
Don received his education in Boston where he met and wedded Paulette Wilson. From this union two beautiful children were born - Charles Donald Alias, Jr. and Kimberlee Marisa Alias. The family has grown to include four wonderful grandchildren - Franklin, Avante, Devin and Chloe Alias.
While in Boston he spent many nights at the Berklee School dorms. It was there that he jammed with drummer Tony Williams and pianist Chick Corea and became part of a band called Los Muchachos, along with bassist Gene Perla who became his life long partner. Don played percussion as a child in Harlem and began his working career steeped in Afro-Cuban music. In the 70's and 80's he worked with an array of legendary musicians including Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock, Pat Matheny, Lou Rawls, Mongo Santamaria, Roberta Flack, Chick Corea, Joni Mitchell, Chuck Mangione, David Sanborn and many, many others. His first venture leading a band came with the creation of his group Stone Alliance that included saxophonist Steve Grossman and bassist Gene Perla.
"What possess someone to play the conga drum, to beat on a drum with your hands? It's a strange instrument I'll say, and in some ways really masochistic to play them. Listen to your heartbeat, it is like a drum, and you cannot live without your heart." - Don Alias
Don Alias entertained millions across the globe with power and style, and his musical spirit leaped off the stage. His sensitivity to other musicians, in particular other percussionists, made Don so popular among his peers. He also played the trap drums as well as assorted Latin percussion with equivalent skill. The chops always had to be tight, he would say, and they always were.
He was our touchstone; our musical inspiration in life, our guide, our friend, he was our beloved father. We have shared with him our concerns, emotions and thoughts of life's philosophies. We realized that his soul ran deep and that he was genuine. He was an entertainer. His love always, his emotions... strong as any natural force on earth... his name respected. The Alias family appreciates the love and kindness that you have shown during this difficult time. Your generosity will always be treasured and never forgotten.