I grew up in Corona, CA, an hour outside of Los Angeles. Everything was an hour away. The desert, the beach, the snow, Disneyland. Heck I had it made! I started taking drum lessons at age six from Gerry Calipinto, studying the Chapin, Buddy Rich and Perry books. At the age of nine, I was a featured guest with the Corona High School Jazz Band, recording “A Hard Days Night” for a live album, just weeks after being introduced to one of my idols, Gene Krupa.
I went on to play six years of jazz and big band charts with the Corona Jr. and Sr. High bands, competing in numerous festivals. The bitchin' thing about the Corona music department was our director, Roger Rickson, knew all the heavy cats and got them to come to our school and play! I got to see big bands like Buddy Rich and Roy Burns perform right at my school! I also got to play at the Las Vegas and Monterey Jazz Festivals. I received a scholarship to Stan Kenton Clinics and learned a lot about time signatures and counting and working with guys I had never met before. I marched in several parades each year, constantly working on cadences that would lead the bands through miles of parade routes.
I joined the Musicians Union at age 17 and started playing casuals, including a stint as an orchestra pit drummer for musicals. That got to be a real drag very quickly and when I started playing with local punk bands, The Press, The Stepmothers, and instrumental surf band, Jon and the Nightriders, I threw my red blazer in the trash. Blasting that fast paced, hard driving stuff was just what I was looking for! I started driving into Hollywood and seeing bands at the Whiskey, the Starwood and the Troubadour.
I saw an add for a drummer on a light pole one night that got my attention. It read: NEED DRUMMER. LOUD HARD AND FAST. That was exactly how I like to play! It was a South Bay band called Panic and I went and met them and played a party/audition at the bass player’s mom’s house in San Pedro and we had a total blast. I remember running out for a case of Olympia and when I got back, the lead singer, Keith and I, sat in a room during a break with a stack of 45's and he sung every word to every record and was just....ON, ya know? They had something and knew it and I really wanted to be a part of it. They wanted me to join the band and move there and cut my hair and get smaller drums and I actually attempted doing that for a few weeks but I just couldn’t get it together. They hired another drummer and changed their name to Black Flag and, well you know the rest of that story. Weird how shit like that works out...
Through a sound man at a club in Riverside, I met Lita Ford, who had split from Joan Jett and the Runaways. She was just putting her first solo project together and we hit it off right out of the box. I'll never forget my first time jamming with her in a studio in Carson. We played about 3 or 4 songs and she put her guitar down, grabbed my hand, shoved it under her sweatshirt and said, "Feel that! No one has ever made my tits sweat like this! Let's go get a drink!" That was cool. That was also my first experience with managers, production companies and record labels and that whole gross process. I moved to Hollywood and recorded her debut album and video, ‘Out For Blood’ and we had way too much fun playing together for the next few years. She recently ran into my friend, James Humann at the Hard Rock in Orlando and he sent me a photo of them and man, she still looks great! I hope she gets back out playing sometime soon. I ended up leaving the band and I joined Legs Diamond.
I recorded four albums and toured the states and Europe with them off and on for next ten years! The band was plagued with lots of downtime so I joined a local band, Dream Six. We played the clubs and started recording an album at guitarist Jim Mankey’s brother’s studio. I left the band before they changed their name to Concrete Blonde and released their album, ‘True’. I was watching MTV one day at home and I heard my drum tracks on their first video, 'Hollywood', and I knew that leaving that band was a BIG mistake..... Ouch!! I've been talking with Johnette lately and they are playing out quite a bit these days, hopefully I'll get to see them sometime soon. She's got one of the best voices I have ever heard in my entire life.
I started playing with one of the original Southern California surf/skate/punk bands, Agent Orange. I’ve been touring with them off and on ever since and I just love those guys! Mike Palm is one of the original OC punker kids who still surfs, rides skateboards and snowboards and he is one of the nicest guys in the world and a brilliant graphic artist to boot! We have an all instrumental album that totally kicks ass fully recorded and sitting in the can and I keep waiting for that thing to be released as I know a lot of people who are gonna dig that one. Steve Latanation has taken the drum seat for them over the last couple of years as I just never seem to have time to play with them these days. Once in a while Sam and I rejoin Mike for a show and it is just like old times...perfectly wonderful!
I was introduced to Samoan gangster rappers, Boo Yaa Tribe by my longtime bass player friend, Neil Merryweather and I recorded two albums with them and did a short tour of Europe. Talk about a trip for a blonde haired blue eyed Southern California boy! Whoa!!! Their new album was just released and it is stacked with loads of East Coast and West Coast artists, sure to be a huge hit. Eminem wrote, recorded and produced one track with them which I have heard and it is KICKIN! I talked with them recently about touring with them again and I hope that happens...
I joined up with Sugartooth and toured the states and Europe in support of their second album on Geffen Records, The Sounds of Solid, which was produced by the Dust Brothers. When the shit started hitting the fan at Geffen, we got tossed and ended up disbanding. That sucked cuz I really dug that band. I have seen Marc Hutner's new band, Pleasure Club a couple of times and they are amazing! Full energy, solid heavy grooves...just what you would expect from Marc.
I was so thrilled about the success of Pulp Fiction with Dick Dale’s Miserlou kicking off the movie, I put together an instrumental surf band, Slacktone with Fender Guitar wizard, Dave Wronski. We’ve released three albums, the debut being voted ‘Album of the Year’ by Surf Music USA. One of our killer gigs was being the house band at the 1998 MTV Rock n Jock Super Bowl party. Can you imagine a surf band playing with LL Cool J at half time? What a riot!
We also got to work with advertisement agency, North Castle Partners, on their Slim Jim account, recording and producing the soundtracks for the animated Extreme Sports series commercials which was a great experience for all of us. Our original bass player, Mike Sullivan became suddenly ill and passed away a couple of years ago and that was a HUGE loss for all of us. Sam Bolle from Agent Orange joined the band and we are doing several local shows and touring Europe each year. If you have never seen Dave Wronski play guitar, you owe yourself a favor to check him out for yourself. There is none better on the planet and I am grateful to be playing with him for so long.
I've been playing with the King of the Surf Guitar, Dick Dale, for the last six years and I must say he is one of the most demanding players I have ever played with. He is SO INTENSE! He never slows down and continues to play nearly 100 shows a year. Bass player Ron Eglit was with him for decades and recently left the band so I was able to get Sam Bolle locked in and it has been a wonderful experience to rock out with him each night.
Sam and I are also playing with blues legend, Becky Barksdale. Think Janis, Jimi and SRV. In bare feet. Amazing talent and a total sweetheart. I've been playing with her off and on for the last 10 years but we have recently stepped up the performance schedule and have several shows booked into next year.