Gratitude of impact/influence on your playing


Do you have anyone in your drumming/musical journey that after looking back after a number of years, were influential, if not instrumental in your progression as a musician? If so, feel free to share!

My parents - without their support and tolerance, I would never have spent my last 47+ years doing this. My Dad was a big band / jazz drummer and he was not only influential as a drummer to me but as a musical educator. He was a historian of the music, taught me so much about the instrument and what to expect when I first started to play live. He passed away 20+ years ago.

My uncle (dad's brother) who studied and played all of his life. He graduated from a world renowned music school and was a professional jazz musician (locally). The minute I could play somewhat of a 'coherent' feel of time, he assembled players he knew and we played together. I was probably in the 6th grade at the time. We continued to play until he couldn't any longer due to physical issues from arthritis, etc.. He has long since passed. He taught me so much about playing with others.

I am fortunate to have lived in a town where amazing musical education was and is available on almost any instrument. Though I've had a handful of teachers, I've had 3 that I consider the most important. They were either all professional players (with international touring acts) and /or professional educators. I will only list their first names and last initials here: John B., Dave M. and Ruth C. They are all well into their late 70's or 80's by now. But they weren't way back then when I was under their guidance. Each were unique and each were identifiably critical to my development.

A particular friend (Steve) who I grew up with. We hung a bunch and talked drums and music for many years. It was very inspiring to have someone around my age that was bit by the drumming bug very hard who I was able to share my first Modern Drummer with (when the magazine first came out) and SOOO much more. He would share the same in return. We fed off each other. It was never competitive and was always inspiring.

Lastly, 3 people who were looking for a drummer in a very busy local band in the early 80's. I was as brand new as it could get in the 'working club band' world. Through a connection they humored themselves and let me come to a club they were at and sit in. They took a chance on me and we worked together for a handful of years playing loads and loads of club dates. They taught me how to conduct myself in a 'professional' manner. I was in my last month of high school when I played my first club with them. My parents needed to provide permission slips so I could play with them in certain clubs.

How about you?
I took drum set lessons at Indiana University back in the mid 70s. I forget the name of my teachers, but the lessons were for jazz, which I only had a few chances to play since then. But those lessons helped my drumming in other genres. Peace and goodwill.
All my teachers: Carl Wolf, William Workinger, Ringo Starr, Charlie Watts, Keith Moon, Jerry Edmonton, Dino Danelli, Johny Barbata, Bobby Elliot, Kenney Jones, Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, Hal Blaine, Chip Damiani, Barry Jenkins, Mike Kellie, Thom Mooney, Richie Hayward, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Maurice Purtill, Cliff Leeman, Frankie Carlson, Ray McKinley, Papa Jo Jones, Louie Bellson, Big Sid Catlett, Al Jackson Jr., Fred Below, Benny Benjamin, Kenny Aronoff and Jim Keltner.
Always have credit for the roommate who brought drums home one day, starting my journey.
Credit to a 2nd roommate soon after for convincing me and 2 others to all rent a huge house in the country to start jamming together. He bailed quickly and his replacement stepped in. And this week, 32 years later I'm doing a 2nd gig in 1 year with the bass player who stepped in to my first band.

Then it was Alice Cooper's drummer,
Bonzo, Tommy Alridge, Rod Morganstein, Terry Bozzio, Denny Carmassi, Peart, etc.. Then, Mike Portnoy, who ever the Tesla drummer was, etc..
Certainly my parents were encouraging, but I'd have to cite my brother as playing a more key role in my progress as a drummer.

To start with, he was the drummer in the family, I took accordion lessons. I later inherited his drums and started taking drum lessons. I think he had already switched to guitar by that point.

My first recording session was through him, a demo with Wrecking Crew guitarist Al Casey (and Steve Douglas on sax) at age 13.

He added the right touch to a few home-made recordings I sent to Dr. Demento in the '70s.

And ultimately, it was through a fellow bandmember of his that he arranged a visit to the Dr. Demento live broadcast, where I met Weird Al. He even worked on some early Al demos and the first album for free!

BTW, my brother is very well respected/accomplished in the music business - :)
"A gentleman is someone who knows how to play accordion, but doesn't."
--Tom Waits
My adult cousin was a drummer, when I visited their house as a boy, I was mesmerized by his drum set, which get me interested in playing. He gave me an old kit of his, as well.

My parents tolerated my drumming, heh heh.

My schoolmates who all decided to get together and form a band in high school, even tho only one of us had ever really played their instrument much before. Fortunately, we all learned together, did some gigs, the bass player from that group is easily the most in demand bar band bass player in our area these days. Its always fun to see him out and about, and being as successful as he is.
I was a self-taught drummer most of my life. I finally realized that I didn't know shit, and looked for a teacher. In 2014, I went to my local music store. To my complete surprise, their teacher is Ron Hurst (Steppenwolf drummer). He has been my teacher and friend for the last nine years. I couldn't be more grateful. He's been teaching for 55 years. He's taught me many genres (Swing, Jazz, Rock, Latin, etc.) I can honestly say that I truly feel like a competent drummer now. Thanks Ron!
Three people had major influences in my music career (and life). My high school band director, Nick Contorno. Somehow he saw something in me and chose me for the drum chair in my sophomore year for the outstanding jazz band that the high school had. I was following an excellent drummer who graduated the year before. At the time, I was out of my league and that first year was rough. But he hung in there with me, I learned a ton during my 3 years in that band and became fairly accomplished drummer who upheld the reputation of the jazz band.

Then, Mike Leckrone, director of the University of Wisconsin Marching and Concert bands. Mike is a legend at Wisconsin for so many reasons and just retired a couple of years ago after leading the Wisconsin Bands for 50 years. He was very demanding and an outstanding leader. Being a part of his bands was a HUGE part of my college experience.

Lastly, Gregg Gerson, drummer for Billy Idol in the 1980's and drummer on numerous recordings (Idol, Berlinda Carlisle, Roger Daltry, Gloria Estefan, Iggy Pop, Mick Jager and more) including platnum album credits (Rebel Yell, Heaven is a Place on Earth). Getting back into playing seriously after kids & career 8 years ago, I chanced upon Gregg via a craigslist add for lessons. He came at the perfect time and with the perfect message/concepts for me: really focusing on what makes drumming & music excellent (it's not the chops!). Listening, feel, space, less-is-more, touch, groove, going deep and patiently staying with the same thing for a while until the magic starts to appear was his program. This came right when I was ready to hear and use it. It's helped make my playing REALLY fun and enjoyable!
my dad: he was the beginning. My first teacher and inspiration. I still vivdly remember the first time I ever "played" drums. I was 3 years old. He sat me on his lap, put the sticks in my hands, and wrapped his hands around mine. He was workign the pedals and manipulated my hands along to Take 5 by Brubeck. That was it. I was hooked. Within a year - as I grew a bit taller - he had me workign the pedals, and I could play along to the body of that song by my self. My memories of free time, and after school are all centered around running home and playing drums along to Benny Goodmen, The Dukes of Dixieland, The Temptations, Jackson 5, Gladys Knight. Later it was Styx, Rush and Kansas. Then on into punk and metal in the early 80s....middle school and high school band, just like he had done when he was my age.

family was very close second. Mom's family were all professional musicians, so I got a very early glimpse into the classical and jazz world, and the idea that music was to be taken seriously. Got my analytical ears and ability from the immersion on that side of the family. Learned how to effectively practice and prepare for auditions and tryouts from my mom's brothers. Family gatherings on that side ALWAYS turned into huge jam sessions, with roughly 30 people playing instruments. Dad and I were the only drummers. Crazy, crazy times!

my high school band director was a negative influence that pushed me into teaching music. I vowed to do the exact opposite of him so that no drummer at my high school would ever go through what I did. He was very unsupportive of percussionists, and was very vocal about his disdain for drummers. That motivated me to make our percussion program a "name" in the State,and we now are that, especially for smaller sized schools. We currently hold a 23 year streak of getting Superiors at our State Finals marching band contest. I always have the largest amount of performers at our District Solo and Ensemble Contest.

in my 20's, I started studying with many DCI Drum Corps greats, such as Dennis DeLucia, Thom Hannum, Tom Aungst, James Campbell, Michael McIntosh, Colin McNutt.

my students are now my biggest influence. They are the ones who push me to be better

my greatest "famous" influences are
1. Neil Peart
2. Gene Krupa
3. Joe Morello
4. Nicko McBrain
5. Omar Hakim
6. Mark Zonder
7. Jeff Nelson
8. Phil Ehart
9. Jeff Hamilton
10. Scott Rockenfield