Peggy Lee, whom he accompanied on tour and on recordings, was a favorite of his. Mr. Tate told one of her biographers, Peter Richmond, that the real shows began after their nightclub gigs had ended, when the band jammed with her in her hotel suite.
âThere were some performances you wouldnât believe,â he was quoted as saying in âFever: The Life and Music of Miss Peggy Leeâ (2006). One night, he recalled, âI heard this voice, and the song that she was singing, whatever it was, she sounded more like Billie Holiday than Billie ever sounded.â
Miss Lee encouraged Mr. Tateâs desire to sing publicly. She had him sing âThe Windmills of Your Mindâ in 1968 as part of her set at the Copacabana in Manhattan.
âYou know, that was not only a great thing Peggy did for me, it was also unprecedented,â Mr. Tate told Downbeat magazine in 1971. âSingers are a funny lot. The stage is all theirs and as a result, quite often they donât want anything that has the remotest chance of upstaging them. Thatâs why the music is geared just so, the lights just so. But Peggy is a beautiful lady.â
He released several albums as a vocalist, starting in 1968 with âWindmills of My Mind.â He also sang âI Got Sixâ and âNaughty Number Nineâ on âSchoolhouse Rock,â ABCâs long-running series of short educational cartoons.
âWhen youâre playing as a drummer, everybodyâs playing and nobody cares a thing about you,â he told the pianist Marian McPartland on her NPR show âPiano Jazzâ in 2009. âEverybodyâs out front and the drummerâs in the back and you donât get the play you should get.â
In contrast, he said, singing âis something that gets…