NEW YORK -- Art Blakey, 71, a drummer whose band nurtured generations of leading jazz players, died of lung cancer Oct. 16 at St. Vincent's Hospital here.

For the major part of his career, Mr. Blakey did his drumming for the Jazz Messengers, the band that came together under his leadership in the early 1950s.

Dizzy Gillespie, a giant of be-bop, once described Mr. Blakey as "the volcano" of be-bop drummers. He was considered in the top echelon that included such drummers as Max Roach and Buddy Rich.

In a television film about Mr. Blakey's career, pianist Walter Davis, an alumnus of the Jazz Messengers, said, "I think no one in jazz has brought more great musicians to music than Art Blakey."

The 1981 Newport Jazz Festival devoted an evening to "The Blakey Legacy," in which the drummer was joined by the players who had been with his band during the previous quarter-century.

Mr. Blakey denied being a teacher, saying that as a self-taught musician, "I don't know anything myself."

But another time he said, "When I take these 18-year-old kids out on tour, it makes most of the pros feel like cutting their wrists . . . . They're going to take the music farther than it has been."

Among the musicians who got a start with Mr. Blakey's band were horn players Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown and Chuck Mangione; saxophonists Jackie McLean, Wayne Shorter and Johnny Griffin; and pianists Keith Jarrett and Walter Davis.

Mr. Blakey was born in Pittsburgh. He escaped the steel mills as a 15-year-old by playing piano at a nightclub.

Then a 14-year-old hotshot named Erroll Garner showed up and "I was told to go to the drums by the club owner," Mr. Blakey recalled.

Mr. Blakey caught on with Fletcher Henderson's band and went on to Billy Eckstine's big band in the mid-1940s, when he first worked with Gillespie and Charlie Parker.

The Jazz Messengers band was formed in 1954 by Mr. Blakey, pianist Horace Silver, trumpeter Kenny Dorham and saxophonist Hank Mobley.

The band toured Europe and played all over the United States for the next three decades, including a White House performance in 1981.

Mr. Blakey's jazz drummer son, Art Jr., died in 1988 at age 47.