Earl Palmer, the drummer so legendary in New Orleans that one of his old kits is in the possession of the Louisiana State Museum, died Friday afternoon in Los Angeles, after a long illness. Palmer's hammering backbeat was the key ingredient in dozens, if not hundreds of early R&B and rock n'roll tracks that emerged from Cosimo Matassa's J&M Studios in the 1950's, influencing the evolution of almost all rock, soul and funk to come. Palmer also later recorded for Motown and at Phil Spector's Gold Star Studio in Los Angeles. He played with Shirley & Lee, Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, Little Richard and a laundry list of greats too extensive to name. It's Palmer thumping out the rhythm on classic rock n'roll tracks that include Ike and tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High," Smiley Lewis' "I Hear You Knockin'," Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti," and the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."