How did you get started playing drums, and who were your biggest influences growing up?
Well, that one is an easy one. I was living just outside of Washington, D.C. back in the early and mid-sixties. My mom thought that it would be a good idea if I would start taking drum lessons from a local instructor named Jack Conners. I guess this was in part because Mr. Conners was such a well-known musician in and around the D.C. area, and perhaps in part to hopefully ward off any further damage to our furniture and my mom’s various cooking utensils due to my constant rhythmic experimentations! Anyway, to make a long story short, I was totally against the idea. After all, I was six years old, and I knew everything! Of course, being the wonderful parent that she is, she immediately consulted her cerebral-stored “parent’s handbook for reasoning with difficult children” and announced in a sage-like manner that I should “just try it, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to continue.” I obviously liked it, as more than a few decades later, I am still doing it!
As to the second part of that question, most of the bands/drummers I listened to when I was younger were bands from “across the pond” – Europe. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of these drummers – while their kits represented many different manufacturers – all seemed to use cymbals from a company called Paiste. Consequently, to my ears at least, this became the “ultimate cymbal sound” that I grew to love then, and continues to this day!
Specifically speaking (for those of you who like specifics), my earliest influences were – and in some cases still are: Phil Rudd (AC/DC), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones), Roger Taylor (Queen), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer), Ian Paice (Deep Purple), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Kenny Jones (Small Faces, The Who), Ansley Dunbar (Zappa, Journey, Jefferson Starship), Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson), Simon Phillips (The Who, Toto). Not coincidentally, they were all Paiste players, but what can I say?
Obviously, as you grow older, your list of influences continues (or should continue) to grow along with you. Today, my personal list would include drummers from nearly all genres – blues, metal, country, jazz, zydeco, R&B, etc. For that matter, for the studious drummer, there is truly a non-exhaustive supply of knowledge which you can absorb from all of these players, regardless of whether or not you happen to like their particular style of music. Best advice: Keep your ears, eyes, and mind “open” at all times. Nearly everyone out there has something valuable to offer!