First time you were paid to play?


Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
How old were you, and what was the first drumming you did where you got paid?

I was 13, and my first thing was a bigger deal than I knew at the time. One day during the summer of 1970, I was hanging around Al Casey's Music Room in Hollywood where my brother taught guitar. Al Casey was a guitar player in the Wrecking Crew and played on a ton of hits (look him up.) Al wanted to cut a demo for a song of his, and was going to play a simple drum part himself, but asked if I'd like to do it. Of course I said yes! So we piled guitars, a snare and hi-hat into his Cadillac and headed over to Dimension Recorders nearby.

It was my first experience with a metronome (recorded onto one track as a click) and the part was super simple, literally a little marching beat for the intro & outro and occasional fill, and straight 2&4 in-between. No kick needed, the bass guitar covered that well enough. Sax was overdubbed later by Steve Douglas, also a Wrecking Crew guy, and my brother also played guitar (Richard Bennett, look him up.) That was my first recording session, and my first paid gig at $25 - a nice chunk of change for a 13-year-old in 1970 - and I take great pride that my first pro gig involved such heavyweight players. Probably 20 years later, I finally got a cassette copy from Casey of the only acetate made of the track. I had certainly come a long way as drummer by then, and while I wasn't too bad, I dare say Al Casey could have played it better and saved the $25!

On a side note, it was his store where my parents bought my first new kit a year earlier, a Ludwig Standard 5-pc with Ludwig/Paiste cymbals. He gave them a 35% discount, which was unheard-of in those days unless you 'knew' somebody. The $532 kit ended up being $346. How nice it would be to have a time machine and a fistful of 100s!



Platinum Member
1995, I was 19 years old. It was my first show. Our guitar player knew a small time promoter in OKC who paid us $300 to come play a Native American metal "festival". There was like 6 bands, I think we played 4th. We had no bass player at the time, so we split the $$$ 3 ways. It basically paid for my gas, food, and place to stay.


Silver Member
1989, with my second cover band. A local "pro" cover band broke up and I joined them (on guitar) along with my bass player. We made enough to rent a band room, pay our sound guy, and pocket $50 each, if I remember correctly.
Never been payed to play drums yet.

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Christmas of 1989, with my junior high band director, at a church gig. I just played percussion, mostly orchestra bells and suspended cymbal. He played timpani. I think I made $35 a service, and I think we had 2 rehearsals and 1 concert, so $105 for the whole thing.

The first time I got paid to play actual drumset would have been summer of 1998 in the musical Oklahoma at the Raleigh Little Theater, outside. Easy, easy drum part, and nice music. Really good actors. I think I made the same rate, $35 a service, and we probably did about 6 rehearsals and 8 performances.


Senior Member
It was 1988. I was 10 years old and had just joined the Yorktown Fife and Drum Corps. I remember the gig paid $5 for about 15 min of playing. I was thrilled to be making the big bucks, but I was nervous too.

This was also the first time I had ever heard the word "gig". I had to ask what it meant, lol.


Gold Member
La Jolla High School dance.
The door fee brought the band about $300 to split five ways.
I was a senior in high school and it was a blast.


Platinum Member
If I recall right, my first paid gig I got hired for was for 1/4 of the door. I took it because I had nothing better to do that day.

My mother was the only one who came.
She paid $2 to get it.
I got 50 cents.


Gold Member
Played a small Wedding Party with my Dad when I was 7 or 8 years old. Got $20.00 which was a small fortune in 1968/69.
I was more of a novelty than a player. I could play some basic beats , enough for the songs we played. I have been playing gigs ever since ( albeit not as my day gig ).


Platinum Member
My first paid gig was as a trombonist in a production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" when I was 13.
My first paid drumming gig was much later, age 21, playing for a dixieland jazz band. (I also played trombone in that band sometimes).

paradiddle pete

Platinum Member
Can't remember payment but I can recall the clothing. I was about 13, Olive Green Crushed Velvet Flares, White Patent Leather Shoes , and A Ruffled White Dress Shirt with Very Long Collars , Jet Neck. Way before the Yeah Baby Guy!.


Platinum Member
I think it was a god awful pub gig when I was 16 or 17 for about £30 in Bilston, to put the town in context if the Black Country ever needed an enema that's where they'd put it!

Can't complain though, playing pubs/clubs was the best grounding a musician can have and it was a better part time job than stacking shelves or any other of the part time job my friends were doing at the time.


It was last August. We played at a bar.. a bar that now my bandmates and I won’t play at anymore. At the time I’d only been playing drums for a year and a half. I think the whole band made like $65 or something that night.
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Platinum Member
13 years old. Some guys from the high school jazz band formed a small combo and asked me to play a weekly gig at a restaurant for $50 a head. I ended up in several bands with those same guys throughout high school.


Platinum Member
When I was 8 I got paid in chips in candy-as my older brother and his friends kept my share and bought me off with cheap candy. I was happy TBH-I'd just waste the money at the dollar store on comic books, toys, and more candy LOL.


Silver Member
..It was last August. We played at a bar.. a bar that now my bandmates and I consider to be beneath us and wouldn’t play at. At the time I’d only been playing drums for a year and a half..

Lol, you played 3 months ago at a bar that you and your band now consider too less to play again..?

Because now you play allready 1 year and 9 months drums and you have an EP..?

I will tell you, i play drums almost 40 years, out of which 15 years for a living, from 20 people venues till 4000 people venues, and right at this moment i will still play at ANY bar i can play, if i can play with nice musicians..

Sorry to say, just being honest, but in my opinion this is a pretty crap attitude to have..

And allthough you have a band with a few decent songs, always remember there are 1000's of bands with a few decent songs who actually are eager to play and who are willing to play the little bars for a while because they know thats needed to grow as a band and musicians..

There is nothing wrong with being proud of what you achieved untill now (also with your band), but there is also nothing wrong with keeping both feet a little on the ground..

I always read your posts with much interest (no joke or sarcasm), but if you want to really grow as a musician you might want to evaluate your (musical) attitude in life a little..

Just to be clear, there is no bad intention or anything like that meant with saying this..


Platinum Member
I cut my teeth traveling playing in churches and what not. I'm sure my first payment was in the form of 1/4 of a "love offering" given by a church. It was rare that we made anything; we usually just kept our money in a box and bought PA gear with it because none of us had any money or a halfway decent PA system. My first decent payday came when the band broke up, and we found a guy who bought all of our gear in one swoop and we divided up the cash. I went to the mall and bought some decent clothes because it had been a while.


Junior Member
I was probably 12 at the time because I was paid to play percussion for a church Christmas musical at a church that another guy in the middle school band went to. The first paying gigs where I was drumming with a combo or band, I was 15. I would take just a snare drum, stand and sticks to the local minor league baseball field and play with a bunch of older gents in a Dixieland band. We would walk all around and play songs for birthday parties and go to different sections and play some quick hits between innings. Got $50 each time and got into the game for free!


Platinum Member
Lol, you played 3 months ago at a bar that you and your band now consider too less to play again..?

I will tell you, i play drums almost 40 years, out of which 15 years for a living, from 20 people venues till 4000 people venues, and right at this moment i will still play at ANY bar i can play, if i can play with nice musicians..
Definitely, 100%, f*cking A dude!

The most fun I have playing is at the local jam night. Some real nice folk there, all varying levels of ability and I couldn't care less, it's let your hair down time (well bad pun if you're bald as a coot like me!).

If you're being asked to play professionally, i.e. theatre work, corporate, backing an artist that's a different sport and it's work so your mindset has to be different but an easy gig with friends playing what you enjoy, play that anywhere!

There's an old saying and it rings true if you think something is beneath you:

"Be wary of the toes you tread on, on your way to the top as they may be attached to the feet you have to kiss on the way down"

Humility goes a long way.