Click here for home page

Click here

Contact Us | Information | Privacy Policy | Audio Help

Main Menu
Submit a review
Sign up for newsletter
Album Reviews
10 Questions with...
Rising Stars
Rock Stars
Backstage Heroes
Celebrity interviews
Get Your EMail Address
Submit your website

Ten Questions with...


Drummer to the stars! He's drummed for Foreigner, the Storm, Richie Sambora, Cher and ex-Journey/Santana member Gregg Rolie and many more.

1. What are you currently up to?

I've been playing on the road with the Gregg Rolie Band and working on various projects in the studio when I'm home. For those people who don't know, Gregg is the original lead singer, keyboard player and a founding member of both Santana and Journey. He's a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and is the guy who is that sang the lead vocals on such classics as "Black Magic Woman", "Evil Ways" and "Oye Como Va" with Santana, as well as songs like "Just The Same Way", "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime" with Journey.

I've known Gregg since our days together as members of a band called The Storm in the early '90's and we've remained good friends. A few years ago, I convinced him to do another record and we did that, in large part at my studio. The record is called "Roots" and I wound up co-producing it with him, as well as playing drums and engineering a lot of the basic tracks. Since making the record, everyone that's heard it has really liked it and we were having so much fun that we wound up deciding to go out and play live, which is what we're doing now.

Besides the stuff I'm doing with Gregg, I've also been playing on various tracks for other people and I'm getting ready to put out a new set of multi-track drum loops that I hope will be ready in the next month or so. If you want to learn more about that stuff, check out my website at and the Gregg Rolie Band website at

2. What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoints(s) of your career to date?

That's a tough question! There have been many high points...I would have to say I've been very lucky in that way. I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to play with some of the greatest musicians in the world, I've gotten to travel the world and see so many great places and meet so many great people. The tours I've done with Foreigner, Richie Sambora, David Lee Roth, Cher, The Storm, the Gregg Rolie Band and others have, for the most part, been an incredible experience. There have also been a lot of great recording experiences...making the "Roots" album with Gregg Rolie, making the "Eye of The Storm" album, recording with people like Bill Champlin...the list goes on and on...

As far as low points, I guess it would be some of the dues I've had to pay along the way. Playing with terrible musicians in terrible circumstances just to make a buck and pay the rent...yikes!! I try not to think about that stuff though!

3. You played on both Storm albums. How did you hook-up with the band? Any chance that there will ever be another Storm album?

Actually, I only played on the second album, "Eye of The Storm". Steve Smith (former Journey drummer) played on the first album and, when the band was getting ready to go on tour with Bryan Adams and make a video (for the song "Show Me The Way"), Steve decided to bail on the band.

As it turns out, I was recommended to them by several people. The first person who recommended me was Pat Torpey, who played drums with Mr. Big. He told Herbie Herbert (Journey, The Storm and Mr. Big's manager) about me and gave him my number. I was told that I also recommended to Herbie by Deen Castronovo and Steve Smith. Additionally, I got a recommendation from Mickey Curry (Bryan Adams' drummer) when he heard that The Storm was going to be on the tour with Bryan Adams.

Anyway, after all the referrals, I wound up going to the Bay Area to audition for the band and, after listening to about 20 or 30 other guys, they asked me to join the band. I wound up having to give my notice to Cher, who I was actually rehearsing with at the time in preparation for a European tour but, as it turns out, she didn't like the guy that replaced me and wound up calling me back to do some more shows with her when I was not on tour with The Storm. So, I actually wound up going back and forth between both tours that year!

As far as whether or not there will ever be another Storm album, who knows? At this point, unless there were some really compelling reason to do one, it doesn't seem likely but I've learned never to rule things out. Right now though, Gregg and I are really concentrating on the Gregg Rolie Band - and digging every minute of it - and Ross Valory is busy playing with Journey. Kevin has his own band, is playing with Alan Parsons and occasionally comes out and sings with us in the Gregg Rolie Band when we do some of the Journey material. I don't really know what Josh is doing but, suffice it to say, there is nothing planned at the moment for The Storm.

4. Foreigner - what was it like joining such a well-established band? Did you get much chance to improvise on stage or was it a strict musical environment?

Playing with Foreigner was awesome! I was always a big fan of the music and, in particular, Lou's singing, so getting to play those songs with him at the top of his game - which he was when I was in the band - was really cool.

As far as there being a chance to improvise on stage, there was some of that but it was really mostly about playing the songs and supporting Lou's vocals and Mick's guitar solos. I wouldn't call it a strict musical environment but it also wasn't like playing in a jazz band where it's all about improvisation.

Probably the most improvisational touring bands I've played with were Richie Sambora's band and the Gregg Rolie Band, which I'm currently doing. With Richie, he would sometimes just call things out of the blue and we'd jam them on the spot! With the Gregg Rolie Band, we are doing a lot of the latin/rock flavored stuff, including a lot of the original Santana stuff that he made famous, and a lot of that music is built around soloing and improvisation.

The band we have is pretty awesome at it too - besides me and Gregg, we have Alphonso Johnson (ex-Weather Report, Santana, Phil Collins, George Duke and many others) on bass, Wally Minko (ex-Jean Luc Ponty, Tom Jones, Pink, Toni Braxton) on second keys, Michael Carabello (original Santana conga player) on congas, Adrian Areas (son of original Santana timbale player, Jose "Chepito" Areas) on timbales and Kurt Griffey (our secret weapon) on guitar. Both Gregg and I have said that we think this is probably the best band either of us have played with in our careers, and that's saying a lot, considering some of the other bands we've been involved with over the years.

5. Have you ever wanted to form your own band or perhaps record a solo album?

Well, the thought has crossed my mind but I've never really pursued it in a big way...I always seem to wind up doing other things that require the type of commitment that would make running my own project impossible. I have talked with Dave Amato (guitarist/singer with REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent, Richie Sambora, Jimmy Barnes, Cher and many others) about doing a record together and we've even been approached by a label that was interested in putting it out. Neither of us have really had time to put that together though, at least not yet.

Of course, I am a full member of The Storm and, the way we've done things in the Gregg Rolie Band, I'm about as involved in that as I would be if it were my own project too so, I guess in a sense, I have fulfilled that aspect of my career.

6. World Classic Rockers - how did you become involved in this touring project? What sort of set is played and what have been the live highlights?

Well first, to clarify, I'm no longer a member of WCR...I left to concentrate fully on the Gregg Rolie Band and I've been replaced in WCR by Aynsley Dunbar.

The way that I got involved with WCR in the first place was that they were looking to replace Bruce Gary because they weren't getting along and Fergie Frederiksen (former Toto singer), who sings with WCR, recommended me as a replacement. I didn't really know Fergie that well at the time but I had just played on his solo album "Equilibrium", which was produced by a good friend of mine, Ricky Phillips.

The main thing that appealed to me about WCR at the time was that it was a band that didn't travel for long, extended periods of time...most of the gigs were one-off's and we'd fly in, do the show and fly home. Also, 99% of the gigs were for corporate events so we'd go to some exotic locales for a lot of them. During the time I was in the band, we played in Monte Carlo, Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Caribbean (Nevis to be exact), Dubai, the Philippines, Guam, Holland, New York, Palm Beach (FL), Palm Springs (CA) and many trips to Hawaii (mostly Maui, Kauai and the big island of Hawaii), Florida, Arizona and other places.

As far as the set list that was played, it was pretty much a collection of songs from the bands that we were primarily associated with. That was the concept of the band, particularly as it related to the corporate event market...a bunch of guys from fairly well known bands playing songs from those bands.

The members for most of the time that I was in the band were me, Randy Meisner (the Eagles), Denny Laine (Wings/Moody Blues), Spencer Davis (Spencer Davis Group), Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf), Fergie Frederiksen (Toto) and Nick St. Nicholas (Steppenwolf). There were also 3 backup musicians, one of whom was Kurt Griffey, who is now the guitar player in the Gregg Rolie Band.

7. Is there any band(s) you would love to join and play with? Have any of the artists you've worked with been an absolute pain?

Well, I would have loved to be in the Beatles!! In lieu of that, I would love to play with any of the surviving members of the Beatles. Of course, there are so many other bands/artists that would be great to play with too. Sting, Don Henley, Eric Clapton, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Van Halen, AC/DC...I mean the list could just go on and on if I really stopped to think about it!

As far as artists that I've worked with that have been an absolute pain, sure, there have been a few of those but I'm not going to bother spending any time thinking and/or writing about that now. Life is too short...I'd rather spend my time thinking about the positive things I've been involved with and looking forward to other, better things to come!

8. How did you first get into the music business? Who have been the main influences on your career to date?

Well, I sort eased my way into it I guess. I started playing drums at the age of 7 and I did my first gigs when I was around 12. After I graduated high school, I decided to attend a music college (Berklee College of Music in Boston) and, after attending 2 semesters there, I wound up getting a gig with a band that was traveling around the Northeast and Midwest during the summer. After doing that, I wound up getting other gigs in the New York area (where I grew up) and just never wound up going back to college. So I guess, at that point, I was in the music business!

As far as who my main influences have been, that's a tough question because there have been so many. I have tried to expose myself to as many different kinds of music as I could since I was a teenager. That was something that was instilled in me by my drum teacher, Larry Ramsden, when I was growing up. He was actually a big influence because he not only taught me how to play but he taught me how to appreciate so many different kinds of music and that, in turn, has influenced my playing, the work that I've done and my overall musical vocabulary.

I have listened to and played everything from Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, to Earth Wind & Fire and Tower of Power, to Chick Corea and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, to Broadway show tunes and music for film and television. My ability to work and play in so many different styles has not only influenced my playing but it has allowed me to work in many different capacities in the music business because I'm pretty versatile.

As far as drumming influences, I've listened to and learned from people like John Bonham, Ringo Starr, Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jeff Porcaro, Phil Rudd and so many others. I could probably spend all day listing them!

9. What do you do in your spare time outside of music?

Well, at this point, I spend time with my family (going to see my kids in their various activities and stuff like that), I play golf occasionally, I love baseball and I'm really interested in a lot of the new computer technology that's available now, a lot of which I employ in the work I do in my studio.

10. Message to your fans...

Well, I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of all the music I've been involved with over the years. We couldn't do it without them! I hope they continue to get enjoyment out of the things we're doing and I hope to see everyone at a gig soon!


Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

All rights reserved.

Classic Rock News Group

Featured Artists
Artist Archive
Steve Tilston
Featured Labels
Do you want to appear here?

get ready to rock is a division of hotdigitsnewmedia group