Jim Blackley took up pipe-band drumming at 13, studying with James Catherwood and George Pryde, and became a leading drummer in Scotland before moving to Montreal in 1952. While a drumming instructor 1953-6 at the RCAF base in Ottawa, Blackley visited Toronto and, on hearing the US drummer Max Roach perform there, took up jazz. He taught privately and played jazz 1957-67 in Vancouver and 1967-73 in New York, latterly (1971-3) commuting to Toronto to give lessons.
Settling in Toronto in 1973, Blackley continued to teach and also made increasingly rare public appearances leading bands of younger musicians with whom he played privately on a regular basis. Recognized in time as the leading teacher of jazz drumming in Canada, he numbered among his pupils his son Keith, Daniel Barnes, Mel Brown, Terry Clarke, Barry Elmes, Jerry Fuller, Jake Hanna, John Lennard, Duris Maxwell, Bob McLaren, Stan Perry and Gregg Simpson. Blackley authored two volumes of Syncopated Rolls for the Modern Drummer (Vancouver 1961, 1962).
Keith Blackley (born 11 August 1950 in Edinburgh, Scotland) was an important jazz drummer 1974-88 in Toronto as the leader or co-leader (with the tenor saxophonists Michael Stuart or Ralph Bowen) of a succession of uncompromisingly contemporary bands and as a sideman to Sonny Greenwich and others. With Stuart, the pianist George McFetridge and the bassist Steve Wallace, he made the LP Determination (Endeavour 1001) in 1979.