The Louisville Leopard Percussionists going off the rails on Ozzy’s “Crazy Train”

By on April 10, 2016

When we recently ran across this clip posted quite a few years ago on Youtube — showing a group of student musicians, ages roughly 7-12, goin’ off the rails, so to speak, on a crazy train of percussion instruments — we knew it was something we had to share.

Earlier this year we shared a similar clip of year-one elementary school students from Lemmchen Grundschule in Mombach, a district of the Rhineland city of Mainz, Germany, who not only sang and performed Kraftwerk’s classic 1978 hit “The Robots,” they also dressed up in their own handmade robot outfits, all of it under the tutelage of their wonderful teacher, Lars Reimer.

Now we have this wonderfully percussive rendition of American grade school kids — they’re known as the Louisville Leopard Percussionists, isn’t that adorable? — performing Ozzy’s massive Blizzard of Ozz hit single on everything from xylophones to marimbas, with drums, congas, bongos, a vibraphone, timbales and, hey, there’s even a piano in the mix too.

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Last May, two and a half years after the video had been posted and already viewed some 800,000 times, Ozzy sent a $10,000 check to support the Louisville Leopard Percussionists, this according to local Louisville, Kentucky newspaper The Courier-Journal.

In a typewritten letter dated April 24th, Osbourne tells the Louisville Leopard Percussionists, “Myself, my whole family and my fans all loved your rendition of ‘Crazy Train.’ Keep up the good work.”

A few months earlier in 2015, in February, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page was so pleased with a Youtube clip, videoed during rehearsal sessions of their medley version of Zeppelin’s “Kashmir/The Ocean/Immigrant Song,” he (or maybe an assistant of his) posted the clip to his Facebook page, stating it was “too good not to share.”

They’ve also performed with Louisville hometown favorites My Morning Jacket and back in 2000 they were awarded a grant from the Carlos Santana Milagro Foundation for their continued support to the musical arts.

The Louisville Leopard Percussionists are a performing ensemble of approximately 55 student musicians, ages 7-12, all of whom reside in 26 different Louisville zip codes and attend 48 different schools in and around Louisville, Kentucky.

Each student learns and acquires proficiency on several instruments, such as marimbas, xylophone, vibraphone, drum set, timbales, congas, bongos and piano. Watch more clips here.

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Award-winning elementary school teacher Diane Downs started her first percussion ensemble, The Fabulous Leopard Percussionists, in 1993 after she found some old instruments in a storage closet in the school where she was teaching.

After ten years as artistic director of The Fabulous Leopard Percussionists, Ms. Downs began to explore how she might make the Leopard Percussionist experience available to children throughout the greater Louisville area.

In the fall of 2003, The Louisville Leopard Percussionists re-launched as a freestanding community 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, offering extracurricular music opportunities to local children at little or no cost.

You can help them keep their program rockin’ and rollin’ by donating thru Paypal.

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(h/t Dangerous Minds, who reposted the Zeppelin clip from their own archives recently on Facebook)

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.