5 Drummerszone artists - Gregg Bissonette

Gregg Bissonette
* June 09, 1959
United States
Gregg Bissonette is best known for his ability to play in a wide variety of styles. His credits range from the big band jazz of Maynard Ferguson to the hard rock of David Lee Roth.

After growing up in Detroit, Gregg received his Bachelor of Music Education from North Texas State University. While at NTSU, he played for three years in the famed One O Clock Jazz Band. After graduation, he joined the Maynard Ferguson Big Band that already featured his brother Matt on bass. The band toured the world and recorded the Live in San Francisco CD. Gregg later moved to Los Angeles and that has been his home ever since.

Gregg Bissonette has played with Joe Satriani, Gino Vannelli, Tania Maria, Brian Wilson, Robin Zander, Brandon Fields, Yarbrough & Peoples, Toto, Ray Charles, Don Henley, Santana and many others. One of his favorite gigs came about in 1985 when David Lee Roth started his own band that included Gregg on drums. They recorded three albums together as well as toured the globe extensively.

Gregg played on Santanas Grammy-winning album Supernatural including the tune El Farol which was named Best Pop Instrumental at the 2000 Grammy Awards.

On this first solo album Gregg Bissonette invited a selection of first class guitarists he played with during his drumming career. Bissonette played temporary with Toto as he replaced Simon Phillips during the Tambu tour in 1995. In 1992 Bissonette released the EP Siblings with five songs featuring Lukather, Henderson, Thompson and Gilbert on guitar. These songs are integrated in Bissonette's first album.

Gregg was born on June 9th, 1959, in Detroit Michigan USA. His mom and dad are both musicians.....his dad Bud Bissonette plays drums (and now has been Gregg's in town LA drum tech for recording sessions and live gigs since 1989,) and his mom Phyllis plays piano and vibes. They used to have a band that played around Detroit, and now live in Los Angeles. Gregg has a younger brother named Matt, and a younger sister named Kathy.

Gregg Bissonette started playing on his dad's drums at about age 5. His dad was his first teacher... showing him various ideas on the drums set. He started taking private rudimental snare drum lessons at age 10 with a local teacher in Warren Michigan named Bob Yarborough. Bob also started Gregg on reading drum set music at age 11. He also started taking private trumpet lessons at the same age from Jim Ruffner.

In the Warren Michigan Wildwood Elementary School Band he would trade off between drums and trumpet. His trumpet hero was always Maynard Ferguson. Gregg had a great desire to play drums for Maynard's band someday. (This wish came true in 1982, after graduation from North Texas State University, when Gregg became the drummer for Maynard Ferguson's Big Band, which already included his brother Matt on bass.)

At age 14 in junior high school, Gregg started a band with Matt called "Today's People". This band was inspired by their jr. high stage band or jazz band under the direction of Jerry Hasspatcher, who was also a drummer. The band members were Gregg on drums, Matt on bass, Lee Ann Herold on guitar, Carl Munteen on sax and flute, Burt Snover on trombone, and one of their best pals who lived down the street from them on Shady Drive, Jeff Trax on trumpet.

That same year, Gregg Bissonette began taking drum set lessons from a popular Detroit drummer named Myron MacDonald. In 1974, Gregg won a scholarship to attend the Interlochen School of Music summer band program.

By this time, both Gregg and Matt were performing professionally with their dad's band "The Buddy Blair Band" in and around Detroit. (Their dad Bud picked the name "Buddy Blair Band" because he thought it sounded better, and that Bissonettte was too hard to remember.) Bud's band as a youth was "Buddy Bissonette and His Bouncing Bulgarian Green Band".

In 1975, Gregg became the drummer in the Warren Mott High School Jazz band,
under the direction of Bill Baker. Bill recommended Gregg to play around
Detroit with many professional groups, including: "The Brookside Jazz Band"
"The Austin/Moro Band", and a progressive big band called "Concertjazz".

In 1976, Gregg and Matt started another band called "Grand Circus Park", named after a park in downtown Detroit. This band featured their high school friends; Brian Biggs on guitar, Doug Burns on lead vocals, Sante Bologna on keyboards, Rick Castruba on trumpet, Burt Snover on trombone, and Eric Kott on saxophone.

Grand Circus Park started as a band that primarily played tunes by one of their favorite bands "Chicago" (formerly called "Chicago Transit Authority"). The band even had the same exact instrumentation. The band was SO into the recording and touring band Chicago, that they orignally named their group Chicago 2! After realizing that they had to be more original, they changed the name to Grand Circus Park, and started incorporating other favorite songs by other bands they loved, such as "Poker" by ELO, ""Walk This Way", and "Sweet Emotion", by Aerosmith, "Gotta Get You Into My Life ", by the Beatles, "Rock and Roll" by Led Zepplin, The Theme from the TV show S.W.A.T. .."Pick Up The Pieces" by the Average White Band, "Best of My Love", by the Eagles, "Long Train A Runnin' ", by the Doobie Brothers...and of course TONS of Chicago hits like: "Old Days","25 or 6 to 4", "Beginnings", "Anyway You Want", "If You Leave Me Now", "Just You and Me", "Feeling Stronger Every Day", and lots of others.......

After high school, Gregg Bissonette went away to college to North Texas Stae University in Denton Texas. Gregg became the drummer in the famed NTSU One O'Clock Big Band. Gregg recorded 2 albums with the 1;00 Band; "Lab 80", AND "Lab 81", Under the direction of Leon Breeden. He also joined one of his favorite R & B bands in Dallas called "The Buster Brown Band". The members of this band were: Kelly McNulty vocals and keyboards, Roger Burton vocals, Jim Casey guitar, Lou Nicholls bass, Rusty Lewis keys, Connie Schlig keys, and Brad Dutz percussion. He also was a member of the Dallas based band "Network" with his brother Matt on bass and vocals, and Paul Ventimiglia on keyboards and vocals.

Gregg Bissonette left Dallas and moved to LA in 1982. In his new home of LA, he made friends with 3 of his favorite drummers: Myron Grombacher from the Pat Benatar band, Mark Craney from Gino Vannelli's band, and Doane Perry from Jethro Tull. They started a fun drummers club with other friends of theirs: Jay Rubin, Barry Schnider, Dean Zimmer, Tony Pia, and many others called "The Woodland Hills Drum Club."

Later that year, one of his childhood dreams came true when he joined Maynard Ferguson's band, which already included Matt on bass. They toured the world, and recorded a live cd called "Live In San Francisco". After the Maynard gig, Gregg joined the Brandon Fields band, and did a cd with that band called "The Other Side Of The Story". The members on that cd are: Brandon Fields saxes, Walt Fowler trumpet and keys, David Garfield keyboards, John Pattitucci bass, and Gregg on drums.

Later that year, Gregg Bissonette went on tour with Tania Maria's latin/jazz group which included Luis Conte on percussion, and John Pena on bass. Gregg's next gig was also with his brother Matt, playing with one of their heros: Gino Vannelli. After their audition that band became: Gregg and Matt on drums and bass, Gino Vannelli vocals, Joe Vanneli keyboards, Karen Childs keyboards, and Mike Miller guitar. This was in the summer of 1985. David Lee Roth had just left Van Halen, and started his own band in the fall of 1985 that included Steve Vai on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass, Brett Tuggle on keyboards, and Gregg on drums. This was a real highlight of Gregg's musical career. This band recorded the multi platinum cd's "Eat 'Em And Smile", and "Skyscraper". Matt joined the band for the Skyscraper tour, and the next studio album called: "A Little Ain't Enough". This cd featured Gregg and Matt, Jason Becker on guitar, Steve Hunter on guitar, and Brett Tuggle on keyboards. The "A Little Ain't Enough" live tour was with Joe Holmes on guitar, Todd Jensen on bass, Brett Tuggle on keys, and Gregg on drums. The videos for Yankee Rose", "Goin' Crazy", "Just like Paradise", "Stand Up", and "That's Life" got TONS of play on MTV.

In 1989, Gregg Bissonette had the great experience ton perform with The Buddy Rich Big Band, on the Buddy Ruch Memorial Scholarship Concert video. This video also featured Vinnie Coliauta, Steve Gadd, Louie BellsonIn 1992, Gregg and Matt recorded with Joe Satriani, on his cd "The Extremist". The cd was produced by one of Gregg's favorite engineer/producers: "Andy Johns", who also engineered lots of Led Zepplin tunes. When Andy asked Gregg what he would like his drums to sound like, Gregg replied: "How about like ANY of the stuff you did with John Bonham??!!" Andy quickly smiled and answered, "We can do that!". They toured with Joe Satriani right after the release of "The Extremist", and also did a live cd of that tour called "Time Machine". Matt went on to record 3 other cd's with Joe Satriani, and still tours with Joe quite a bit.

In 1993, Gregg and Matt started their own band called "The Mustard Seeds" with guitarists Doug Bossi, and George Bernhardt. All four of the members wrote the songs together and sang lead vocals and harmonies. Gregg remembers this band as being the most creative and rewarding musically of any band he has ever been in. Gregg states " There is something very special about being in your own band with your brother."

In 1995, Gregg Bissonette did a European tour with the band Toto. Simon Phillips (who has been the Toto drummer ever since Jeff Porcaro passed away so unexpectedly) asked Gregg to fill in for him for 4 months because he had injured his back. This was a really fun tour, and led to lots of future work with Gregg playing with Steve Lukather. Gregg played on 1997's album with Steve called "Luke" and did a tour of Europe and Japan with that band. The line up of the Luke touring band was: Steve Lukather guitar and vocals, Gregg on drums and vocals, Brett Tuggle on keyboards, rhythm guitar, and vocals, and Phil Sousan on bass and vocals. Gregg also played on the 2003 Lukather Christmas album called: "SantaMental". This cd featured Steve, Gregg, Jeff Babko on keyboards, and John Pierce on bass. Gregg also played trumpet along with Walt Fowler on trumpet and Jeff Babko on trombone.

In 1996, Gregg got married. It was the happiest day of his like. He married
Sadhna Ruth Milton who then became Sadhna Ruth Bissonette!! In 1998 they
had a son named Noah Budd Bissonette, and in 2001 they had a daughter named Mary Ruth Bissonette!!!

In 1998, Gregg Bissonette had the great pleasure of working with one of his longtime heroes, Don Henley on Don's album "Inside Job". He was hired by Don's producer, Stan Lynch, who was the drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and one of Gregg's best friends.

In 2000 Gregg had the great honor of playing with Carlos Sanatana on the
Multi Grammy winnning cd "Supernatural". This session came about because the producer called Gregg's favorite drummer Vinnie Coliauta, to originally do the session, but Vinnie was unavailable and recommended Gregg.

In 2001 Gregg and Matt did a live concert dvd called "Zoom" with Jeff Lynne and ELO. Jeff was fantastic to work with, Gregg and Matt had been big fans of ELO and of Jeff Lynne (Travelling Willberries, George Harrison, Paul McCartney,Tom
Petty ect) and they really had fun working with him.

Gregg Bissonette recorded 2 solo cd's. One is called: "Gregg Bissonettte", on Shrapnel Records, and the 2nd is called "Submarine" on Favored Nations records. Both cd's are written and produced by his brother Matt, who also plays bass on the entire cd's. "Gregg Bissonette" features guest guitarists, Steve Vai, Ty Tabor, Andy Summers, Paul Gilbert, Doug Bossi, George Bernhardt, Steve Lukather, Scott Henderson, Michael Thompson, and Mike Miller. "Submarine" features guest guitarists: Joe Satriani, Frank Gambale, Steve Stevens, Tim Pierce, Steve Vai, Gary Hoey, Doug Bossi, Ritchie Kotzen, and the great piano player David Garfield. Gregg also sang lead vocals on both cd's and played trumpet and percussion. Matt also did vocal harmonies and played trombone and cello.

One of Gregg's musical dreams was to play with his brother in a pop rock band like his favorite band The Beatles. In 2002, THIS dream came true when Gregg and Matt were both asked to play drums, bass, and sing in Ringo Starr's Band. They did a tour of the U.S. that promoted Ringo's album "Ringo Rama". In addition to playing drums while Ringo fronted the band on vocals like "Yellow Submarine", "With A Little Help From My Friends", "Photograph", "It Don't Come Easy", and new songs like Ringo's tribute to George Harrison called "Never Without You", Gregg and Ringo also played double drums on Beatles hits like "I Wanna Be Your Man", and "Boys". In addition to a great live concert in New York, some of the T.V. shows they played on were: The Tonite Show with Jay Leno, Conan O'Brian, Good Morning America, Regis and Kelly, and Carson Daly.