Canadian breaks world record with 1,208 single strokes
Artist biography Eric E. "D. DrumGuy" Okamoto
What hummingbirds are to birds, Eric Okamoto is to drummers.
Okamoto, a third-generation Japanese-American who grew up in Garner, set a record for the double roll at the World's Fastest Drummer competition in Indianapolis in August 2005. By blistering at a rate of 1,559 drumstrokes for a minute, nearly 26 strokes a second, he got to hoist a championship belt that would make a professional wrestler jealous.
Okamoto, who teaches percussion at Burt's School of Music in Cary, got his first drum set at age 5. Speed became his signature at Garner High, and the blur of his sticks made jaws drop when he auditioned at East Carolina University's College of Music.
But Okamoto says he never knew how fast he really was until a student told him about "extreme sport drumming," which sprang up after the invention of the Drumometer in 1999. The machine can discern beats too fast for the human ear to count.
Since 2000, more than 10,000 drummers have vied for the title of World's Fastest Drummer, says Boo McAfee, Drumometer co-inventor. Competitions are held twice a year at conventions of the International Music Products Association, and winners get in the book of Guinness World Records.
Okamoto is one of only 21 drummers to break into the exclusive "1,000 Club" by playing more than 1,000 single strokes a minute. He holds the sixth all-time highest single-stroke record (1,085) from a competition he won in 2003.
After graduating from ECU about 20 years ago, Okamoto began giving private lessons and writing music books. He trains about 70 students a week.
Ironically, Okamoto often makes his students play slowly.