What I learned from Terry Bozzio

Last night I attended a concert by Terry Bozzio, the former drummer for Frank Zappa. It would normally take a lot for me to go to a 2-hour concert featuring only a drummer, but Terry is different.  His tunes are creative and detailed and he has excellent showmanship.  I really admire his playing but the main reason I went was because I have a passion for percussion gear so I couldn’t pass this up.

The show wasn’t a disappointment at all.  That’s not what I want to discuss, though…

img_8368The audience was mostly made up of drummers.  I know this not because they were advertising the fact but rather because of how they responded during the show.  I looked around and I saw people not just enjoying the show but being sucked into it.  They weren’t just tapping their feet; they were emulating the difficult polyrhythms that we were hearing.  When Terry would cycle between his multitude of pedals, I would see necks craning in an attempt to see what he switched to.


At one point during the show, Terry dropped a stick.  We heard a muttered “bastard!” as he quickly grabbed another stick and kept on playing.  The audience’s response was to applaud, as if to say “Good save, sir”.  He made a mistake and he recovered nicely.  As a drummer friend of mine commented, “He’s human, after all”.

We were there to admire a respected drummer’s technique, his showmanship, and his gear.  We were there to learn.  To be inspired.  And we were.

I’ve been involved with different communities, including guitarists, bassists, woodworkers, artists, programmers, and actors.  From my experience, what sets the drumming community apart is the support and the lack of competition.  There will always be exceptions but in general I find that drummers admire each other.  We acknowledge that each drummer is different and skilled in certain areas.  We study their techniques.  A drum set is like a fingerprint; unique to each player.  As such, we’re curious about each others gear and setup.

Every drummer I meet can do something that I can’t.  Therefore, every drummer is a teacher.  And in turn, every drummer is a student.


What do you think?  Feel free to share your comments below.

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