James (Jimmy) Giampa, 80, passed away of cancer on Saturday, May 27th at his home in Saugerties. In death, as in life, he was surrounded by loving family and friends.
Jimmy was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1942 and moved to Woodstock in the early 70s to work with a recording studio. A talented conga player, he jammed and recorded with many musicians and bands, including Herbie Hancock, Santana, Buswell, El Rancho de Luxo, and others, and in 1972 recorded the classic, Brandy, with Looking Glass.
Jimmy learned to play the drums as a teenager hanging out in his Williamsburg neighborhood with Puerto Rican friends and their Latin bands. Throughout his life, he added his distinctive style and Latin beat to countless concerts and venues.
With his one-time partner, Nancy, he helped to renovate a barn on the Saugerties land of his lifelong friend Joan Reinmuth and her children Amy, Jared, and Kriston. Jimmy lived “off the grid,” in the barn for most of his adult life. Jimmy’s lifetime project was building an off-the-grid dwelling in Jefferson, NY, on his mountainside property.
When he wasn’t socializing or playing music, or chopping wood, Jimmy was a jack of all trades, building, fixing, and repairing all manner of structures as well as maintaining the Reinmuth property. He was an avid bird watcher and stargazer. Jimmy was feisty and quick-witted. He extended his warm friendship to many people in all walks of life, loved and was loved by many. His “family” included a host of friends, both old and new. He was especially proud of his daughter, Shanti Giampa, and granddaughter, Koa Plante, who survive him.
Donations in Jimmy’s memory may be made to Family of Woodstock, the John Herald Fund for Musicians and Artists.
A memorial celebration of life will be held at a later date.