A Very Brief History
However, those cheap, non-replaceable heads on my first kit barely lasted the year until I received my next kit on Christmas 1967 — with replaceable heads! I can still feel the excitement of that morning. The same feeling that I still get every time I walk into my studio.
My journey with drumming began at age five, as seen in these photos showcasing my glorious Christmas gift and giving my first performance for dinner guests on Christmas day 1966. It was the start of an incredible journey that would shape and re-shape my life time and time again.
Fast forward to 1980. Upon graduating from high school I knew that I wanted a career in music. However, I felt at 18 years of age that I might starve to death if I was to head to Los Angeles or New York. So, I decided to allow myself to mature a bit and save some money before embarking on a music career and I joined the United States Air Force.
After basic training I entered a 26 week technical training school, where I excelled at such a level of performance that I was asked to remain at the school as an instructor upon completion of my schooling. I was then sent to a 28-week Air Force Instructor Training school where I received intensive training. By the time I was 19 years of age I was a full-blown Air Force Training Command instructor, spending the remaining three years of my 4-year hitch teaching. This teaching gig also allowed me to have my drum kit, as I was able to live off base. This gave me four more years to sharpen my skills on the kit.
When my 4-year hitch in the USAF was up, I declined reenlistment, was honorably discharged and headed for Los Angeles to start my music career.
Fame certainly makes for an interesting autobiography. However, given that I was never famous and that you have most likely never heard of me, trying to sum up my 38 years as a professional drummer, drum programmer and entrepreneur without putting you to sleep would not be an easy undertaking, so I'll keep it brief. And I'm okay with not being well-known or famous. I got to do what I loved, made a very lucrative living and never had to deal with any of the pitfalls that come with fame.
Most of my time during my career was spent in commercial recording studios and my home recording studios, either behind the drum kit, or programming drum machines/sequencers. I also performed in a lot of live shows with recording artists that I worked with in the studio. Most of them were up-and-coming artists trying to secure a record deal. However, most of my time was spent in the studios playing or programming drums for recording artist demos, television or radio commercials, movie or gaming soundtracks and countless other behind-the-scenes music projects (and believe me, the types and number of such projects are wide and varied!). I was involved in so many recording sessions over the years that at this point in my life I couldn't possibly put together a comprehensive list of the projects that I was involved with over the last 38 years. To help you understand this, let me give you an example of an average day for me during the course of all those years:
Morning Sessions - Car commercial with a jazz music feel. Game show soundtrack music with an orchestra. Video game soundtrack with heavy metal music.
Afternoon Sessions - 4 songs for a country artist record company demo. 7 different radio ad spots with music ranging from a pop rock sound to funky Latin.
Evening - Pop singer showcase concert for prospective record labels.
Granted, each day was different, not every day was equally as busy, and I was certainly able to schedule in plenty of days off given the income stream generated from the amount work I was doing. However, imagine me now trying to compile a list of those projects for you from 38 years gone by. To provide a comprehensive list from memory for 38 years of project affiliations would be next to impossible. It's not like I recorded 12 albums with 3 different bands. Still, you are probably wondering, "But, what types of companies or brands were you involved with in sessions over the years?" Sooooo, without a lot of thought, and off the top of my head, here are some that come to mind:
The Price is Right
Wheel of Fortune
Blue Cross & Blue Shield
A & M Records
Proctor & Gamble
State Farm Insurance
NBC, ABC & CBS
NHL, MLB & NFL
And Many More That I Have Long Forgotten or would have to think long and hard to remember
Then of course there were literally thousands of sessions for small business, advertising agencies, music producers, etc., in the way of background music for advertising campaigns and music demos that I would have forgotten within months, if not weeks, after such sessions. Approximately how many session are we talking about over a 38-year span? Well, there are some things to consider first. During my initial, let's say, 6 years after I got out of the Air Force, my sessions were hit and miss, as I was playing and networking with people and building a name for myself. I was also touring alot with bands and vocalists, so during those times I was rarely in the studio. So there were weeks where I was busy, maybe 5 to 8 sessions per week. But then I might go a month without a session, so I was playing live gigs and teaching drums to supplement my income. As time went on I got busier and busier with the sessions.
So, for the sake of simplicity and trying be as accurate as possible, lets just do some basic math. Thinking back, I would say I averaged around 10 to 15 sessions a week from ages 28 through 59, spread over approximately 45 weeks per year (I took a lot of time off). That's approximately 450 to 675 sessions per year. Multiply that by those 33 years and we are looking at approximately 14,850 to 22,275 sessions, not including the sessions I picked up from 22 to 28 years of age and sessions that I have continued to do since age 59.
Also, keep in mind that the term "session" is relative in terms of time spent. A session could take 30 minutes or 14 hours. So, while you might think that an average of 10 to 15 sessions a week may not seem like a lot for a full-time working musician, you should understand that most days I was putting in around 8-12 hours a day. Were there days that I only put in 2 hours? Sure. It depended on the project and how many things I wanted to schedule on a given day.
The next thing you are probably wondering is, "If you did so many sessions, how come we haven't heard of you?" That's easy to answer . . . because I never recorded or toured with anyone famous (well, I have recorded and performed live with a few people that became famous later on, but they were virtually unknown when I played with them, as mentioned on my "Music" page). Successful session drummers such as, Hal Blaine, Jim Keltner, Larrie Londin, Gary Mallaber, Tris Imboden, Mickey Curry, Mike Baird, Russ Kunkle, Rick Marotta, Josh Freese, Ash Soan, and others, have recorded and toured with top artists and have played on many hit songs. Even so, the average music lover still has never heard of them — even fellow drummers. Names such as, Neil Peart, John Bonham, Mike Portnoy, Travis Barker, Chad Smith, Tommy Lee, Taylor Hawkins, Joey Jordison, Rick Allen, and many others . . . those are the names we are ALL familiar with . . . drummers in hugely successful bands.
So, for me, it wasn't glamorous work, but it made for a very profitable lifestyle, especially given the fact that I was able to do something that I loved. And considering that the odds of making a good living as a full-time working musician are greatly against us, I felt very blessed to have achieved that distinction.
In addition to drumming, all my life I have been able to create pretty much any voice that I want to. So, later on in my drumming career I also got involved in voice acting due to all of my studio and professional connections. In addition to my many voices, my ability to compose and produce music led me to many other types of recording projects and still does today..
Two other entrepreneurial projects that the proceeds from my career allowed me to launch were DIY Road Cases® and Crepe Expectations®.
DIY Road Cases® was an all-encompassing instructional system for building road/flight cases. I had been building my own road cases since my Air Force days, so teaching others seemed to be a logical step. Aside from the instructional programs I also partnered with one of the largest case parts and materials manufacturers in the world who made all the parts and materials sold on my online store, which made DIY Road Cases® a one-stop shopping entity for do-it-yourselfers around the globe. I eventually licensed my concept to other case parts providers and then sold DIY Road Cases® in 2018 to one of the largest case companies in the world. If you click here, or simply Google "diy road cases", or "build your own road case" you'll see that my creation is still very much alive and well today.
Crepe Expectations® is a fabulous restaurant in Las Vegas that my wife and I created in 2010. My wife is an amazing chef and was all things culinary and front of the house, while I handled the business end. The restaurant was featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and has been a popular destination for not only locals, but vacationers from around the world. We sold the restaurant in 2016, but if you click here, or simply Google "crepe expectations" you'll see how well-regarded and popular it still is today.
I haven't worked much in commercial recording studios since I was around 47 or 48 years old (2008/2009). By that time a lot had changed technology-wise and I was able to work from my home studio, as this cut expenses for my clients and made life far easier for me.
Besides doing sessions for drums and voice, I also embarked on this website project that you have ended up at (I never had a website before this). I have always wanted to produce educational content, but was always too busy during prior years. Now that I only work on select projects strictly from my home studio, I have allowed myself time to create educational content So, although I am still here to provide my drumming, programming and voice services, I am also here to educate, but not in simply in the traditional sense of drum and voice acting instruction. My aim is to convey learning essentials outside of traditional educational content. Being a successful drummer or voice actor entails far more than just ability. Great talent is a given in order to succeed in such endeavors. However, to become a professional working artist, success entails about 15% ability and 85% of everything else. I'll be covering a lot of the 85% as well.