I have been influenced and inspired
in a number of different ways by a number of different people, as a
musician, a teacher and as a human being. In fact, I have probably
been influenced a little bit in one way or another by most every
person I have ever come in contact with. I have taken bits and pieces
of all these people and mixed them together with a healthy dose of my
own personality to make up who I am.
I was greatly influenced by rock music of
the late 60's and early 70's and the fusion movement of the
70's. Major influences include: Emerson Lake and Palmer,
Frank Zappa, The Doobie Brothers, Chicago, Gino Vannelli,
Kansas, Triumvirat, Steely Dan, Dan Haerle, The Dregs, Kit
Watkins, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Weather Report,
The Brecker Brothers, Yes, Jethro Tull, and many
others. After watching Emerson Lake and Palmer perform on a 1974 ABC network television broadcast, "I was hooked forever!"
Some well known influences are: Simon Phillips, Rod
Morgenstein, Dave Weckl, Carl Palmer, Steve Gadd, Anton Fig, Gerry Brown, Steve Smith, Danny
Seraphine, Don Brewer, Chet McCracken, Keith
Knudson, John Hartman, Michael Hossack, Chad
Wackerman, Vinnie Colaiuta, Terry Bozzio, Ed
Mann, Barriemore Barlow, Phil Ehart, John
Bonham, Micky Dolenz, Floyd Sneed, Jeff
Porcaro, Keith Moon, Doug Ingle, Gregg
Bissonette, and many others.
Equally important to these greats were talented people I got
to play along side in band during junior high,
high school, college, and grad school. Most of these people are not
famous but influenced my playing just the same: Clif Newton, Tommy
Mayes, Clay Lowder, Jeff McNeil, Danny Marion, Larry Hess, Greg
Vaughn, Bruce Bray, Alan Lawrence, Alan Shinn, Bob Clarke, Lalo
Davila, Andy Barrus, Dan Wojciechowski, Steve Fisher, Tony Pia, Randy
Drake, and many others.
I learned so much about how to play and teach by watching great teachers. I
was very fortunate to have had many great teachers throughout my life
who taught me more than just music. I also had a few
teachers who were less than great, however, I still learned from these
teachers, if nothing else, "How NOT to Teach."
Some of the teachers who influenced me in a very positive way
Mike McKinney - My first drum teacher. I hooked up with him
quite by chance. He was teaching percussion lessons at Jent's House of Music in Lubbock, Texas and we found his name in the Yellow Pages. He was a great teacher and the person
who gave me a tremendous musical foundation. Dr. McKinney is now a Baptist minister and college professor in Kansas.
James Beckham - Another very
inspirational percussion teacher in my early development. James taught
me a lot and also encouraged
me to write my first compositions and arrangements.
C. Doyle Gammill - My high school band director. I could
write a book about his influence but to boil it down, he taught me
that music can be fun and we should laugh at ourselves along the way
as we work hard to be our best. He is one of the funniest
people on Earth and a lot of the kooky things I do are either
inspired by him or are a direct rip off!
Dan Haerle - Jazz legend, musical genius, and teacher
extraordinaire. Dan continues to this day to be a mentor and a friend.
He taught me to strive to a higher level as a musician, composer,
arranger, and teacher
Dr. Robert Schietroma - My percussion teacher in grad
school at North Texas. Doc also continues to be a mentor and a
friend. He pushed me very hard (sometimes, almost too hard!) to be my
best and strive for extremely high standards.
My greatest musical influences (oddly) came from people who don't
play percussion. My top four musical heroes are:
Zappa - the greatest musician who has walked this planet in
the past 100 years. That's a pretty strong statement but those who
"get it" are very lucky to be able to attempt to digest the massive catalog of music he
left us in his brief 53-year period on Earth.
Haerle - A living jazz genius at the piano. I don't know why
he doesn't go down in history with people like Corea, Hancock, Tyner,
Waller, Monk, etc. Dan is in the same league as any of those guys and
is the nicest and most humble person you'll ever meet!
Emerson - Another genius who flourished in more of an
electronic rock realm with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer. Emerson broke
new ground with the Moog synthesizer which has influenced generations
of players. His greatest composition, "Karn Evil 9" (1973) still stands
as a masterpiece which has no equal.
Watkins - Kit inspired me by what he was able to do in a
relatively simple home studio. He has produced many fine recordings
of impeccable quality and creativity which are equal to
big budget productions recorded at million dollar pro studios.
My personal musical tastes run very eclectic. I was initially
turned onto music by The Monkees and wanted to "someday play drums as
well as Micky Dolenz." That's one goal I think I've accomplished!
From there, I discovered a lot of other great music that was
happening in the late 60s. Then the early 70s brought a flood of
wonderful music like we've never seen since and surely will never see
again in this lifetime.
In June of 1974 I had a religious musical awakening while watching an ABC TV show called In Concert. On this particular Friday
night, they broadcast a concert from The California
Jam featuring Emerson Lake and Palmer. For me, this show would be a musical
awakening like I had never experienced before. To say that I was
blown away by what I saw and heard would
be an understatement. It was the most incredible thing I had ever
Karn Evil 9 - 1st Impression
Karn Evil 9 - 3rd Impression
Through the magic of cable TV (in a time when there were no VCRs or DVRs), I actually got to watch the
entire broadcast twice that evening and after a totally sleepless
night, I got up and went out and bought the Brain Salad Surgery album. I
spent the rest of the weekend literally listening to this record over
and over again. My life was forever changed after finding this
wonderful music and I had a new dedication to devote the rest of my
life to music. I haven't looked back since.
When disco took over in the mid-70s I found that it wasn't for me
and I started wandering to the jazz section of the record store and
discovered a whole new world of music which has been with me ever
since. About that same time, I really started getting into The Beatles and then, much later (in the
1990s) I finally discovered the genius of what went down at Motown in
the late 50s and most of the 60s. College and grad school taught me
to understand and appreciate the classical side of music as well as
20th Century, ethnic, avant guard, minimalism, etc. I was
fortunate to have been served such a well-rounded diet of musical
Emerson Lake and Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery
Quite possibly the greatest album ever made! The band is at the peak of their career. Carl Palmer plays some of the best drum parts ever recorded. Keith Emerson was years ahead of his time with his writing and use of custom made Moog synthesizers. The cornerstone of this album is the 30-minute suite, "Karn Evil 9" which is one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded. Also check out their next album, the three record live set Welcome Back My Friends...
Triumvirat, Illusions on a Double Dimple
This album is an unknown classic. These are prog rockers from Germany who played very much in the style of Emerson Lake and Palmer. I enjoy the synthesizer work as well as the long and intricate song forms. This music fits in very well with Brain Salad Surgery.
Chicago Transit Authority
Chicago's very first album. Drummer Danny Seraphine plays like his rear is on fire and, in doing so, inspired a generation of young drummers. This was one of the first double (vinyl) albums, and that gave the band a chance to stretch out and jam on most every song. Every piece is a classic in its own way.
Steely Dan, Aja
This is the closest thing that there is to a perfect album. Not a single flaw or moment of anything less than brilliant music anywhere. Everything is shined and polished until it is right. This album was made similar to a movie with different musicians coming and going on each song, similar to "actors." Sometimes they would consolidate two different musician's takes into one. This album is more about "groove" and "feel" rather than fast chops. Drummers who performed are: Steve Gadd, Ed Green, Paul Humphrey, Jim Keltner, Rick Marotta, and Bernard Purdie
Synergy, Electronic Realizations For Rock Orchestra
Synergy is Larry Fast, a one man band who played every note on this "symphony" of classic analog synthesis. The entire album features Fast's compositions, which required a massive amount of overdubbing. No drummers are on this album and "no one played guitar". The best all-synthesizer album I have ever heard.
Landmark rock 'n roll from the genius of Tom Scholz who composed, recorded and played all of the guitar, bass and organ parts on this classic album from his home basement. He brought in singer Brad Delp and drummer Sib Hashian to round out the "band." Contains some of the greatest commercial rock music of all time
Led Zeppelin II
My personal favorite Led Zep album. This was a brighter time in the life of the band before the excess of fame and fortune clouded their later albums. Every song here is a classic. John Bonham's thunderous drum work, with both his sticks and bare hands, on "Moby Dick" is essential listening for every drummer.
Pat Metheny Group, First Circle
Metheny is one of the greatest jazz artist/composers alive. This is one (of many) of his classic albums. Every track is solid. The title track has been covered by many a jazz band and percussion ensemble. Contains some incredibly innovative drumming by Paul Wertico.
The Who, Who's Next
This is The Who's best album in my opinion. The band is at their peak, playing, writing and recording. Keith Moon's unmistakable drumming charges through here like the madman that he was. Contains one of the greatest rock anthems of all time, "Won't Get Fooled Again."
Frank Zappa, Make A Jazz Noise Here
There would be too many Zappa albums to list here but this is an incredible live recording from Zappa's last tour in '88. Contains a nice variety of music, and is heavy on instrumental tracks. Drummer Chad Wackerman and percussionist Ed Mann propel the top notch band through many an intricate composition in this collection. Chad Wackerman once told me that this is also his favorite Zappa album.
Weather Report, Heavy Weather
A wonderful album, representative of the best of 70's jazz/rock fusion. Every member of this band is a jazz legend. Alex Acuna (normally known as a latin percussionist) turns out a legendary performance on drumset. Bass legend Jaco Pastorius also plays some great drums on "Teen Town." Contains the timeless jazz/fusion classic, "Birdland."
Jethro Tull, Thick As A Brick
One of the first long form "concept albums" which stretches one song over an entire album. This is Tull's finest work in my opinion. Features wonderful writing which weaves many different stylistic passages throughout the entire effort. The ending finally brings back the original motif. Fantastic, creative drumming by Barriemore Barlow!
Emerson Lake and Palmer: Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends - Ladies and Gentlemen, Emerson Lake and Palmer,
Toto: Toto IV, Chicago: Chicago VII, Frank Zappa: You Are What You Is, Return To Forever: Music Magic, Kansas: Song For America, Grand Funk: Caught In The Act, Yes: Fragile, Loggins and Messina: Full Sail
The Brecker Brothers: The Brecker Brothers, The Doobie Brothers: Livin' On The Fault Line, Motown: Hitsville USA 1959 - 1971, The Doobie Brothers: Stampde, Chick Corea: The Electrik Band, Kit Watkins and Coco Rousell: Kit and Coco, Gino Vannelli: The Gist Of The Gemini, The Dregs: Industry Standard, Three Dog Night: It Ain't Easy
Iron Butterfly: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Billy Cobham: Spectrum, The Doobie Brothers: Toulouse Street, The Doobie Brothers: The Captain and Me, The Doobie Brothers: Takin' It To The Streets, The Doobie Brothers: One Step Closer, Buddy Rich: The Roar of '74, Dave Weckl: Masterplan, Little Feat: Time Loves a Hero
Tom Scott and The L.A. Express: Tom Cat, Spyro Gyra: Catching The Sun, Vince Guaraldi: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Lee Ritenour: Captain Fingers, Joni Mitchell: Wild Things Run Fast, Earth Wind and Fire: I Am, Frank Zappa: Zappa In New York, Ozric Tentacles: Spirals In Hyperspace, Edgar Winter: They Only Come Out At Night