Mike Botts (1944-2005)

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
For whatever reason, nobody seems to remember Mike Botts nowadays. Back in the 1970's and 1980's, he was pretty well known and sought after. So, l guess this thread might be useful.

For all who never heard of Mike Botts, here is an abstract. Michael Gene Botts was born on December 8, 1944. He died from cancer aged 61 on December 9, 2005. He was an American (Californian) drummer, who is best known for his work with 1970s ultra-popular rock band "Bread" and for his work as a session drummer for dozens of well known artists and movie-productions.

Botts joined "Bread" when the band worked on their second album "On the Waters" and he has added a new percussive voice to the band - and also provided some songs that he composed. He was stilistically and from his drumming philosophy much like Hal Blaine. He played what a song needed and never tried to be in the spotlight in order to please his ego.
Hal Blaine said:
I call myself a method drummer. I wouldn’t play a song unless I heard it first. A song is a story, and if you don’t know what it’s about, how the hell are you going to play it?
That's what Botts did. He listened to the stories behind the song and added the right beat, the right atmosphere. Being a session-drummer and composer prior to his Bread days, he knew what songs needed and had a great feel for a song. Bread got instantly better when they hired him. His many skills and grooves that he could use in the studio, added a new dimension to Bread. Be it a strong rock beat, a shuffle or gentle percussive elements - he did it all. But he rarely got much attention, because he was not flashy, not that charismatic. No Buddy Rich attitude, no wild lifestyle à la Bonzo, Watts or Moon, no big shows on Stage like Moon or Krupa. He was simply a dedicated, down to earth pro who did his work day in and day out. Never over- or underplaying songs.

Apart from his work with "Bread", he worked e.g. with popular musicians like Linda Ronstadt, Andrew Gold, Joan Baez, David Gates, James Griffin, Ananda Shankar, Albert Hammond, Olivia Newton-John, Rita Coolidge and many many more. And he recorded with Kermit the Frog. Yeah. "Kermit unpigged" features his work, too. ;-) He also added percussion and drums and compositions to the movies and TV-Productions "Footloose", "Alvin and the Chipmunks", "Batman beyond" and "Urban Cowboy". He worked as a musican, composer, singer and producer until near his death.

Here are some videos where you can hear him at work.
Some stuff with Bread:


With Linda Ronstadt

With Andrew Gold

And with Ananda Shankar (funny stuff!)

For me, he belongs to the list of the important drummers that should be included on this site. Maybe he will be added to the database one day. He deserves it.


Platinum Member
I got acquainted with Mike Botts via the Andrew Gold track. I liked that song for the longest time and finally persuaded a band I was in many years ago to play it. I always thought the musical choices made were kind of perfect on that track, including the drum parts. I don't know whose idea it was that Botts play sleigh bells during the choruses, but it's an unexpected choice (who would think of that?) and I like it.

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
I have a friend who grew up next door to Mike and his family. He says Mike was a genuine, kind individual.
Growing up Mike would tell everyone in the neighborhood that he was going to be a professional drummer.
Even after his rise to fame, Mike would always take time to talk with my friend when he returned home to visit his family.