Photo of John “Jabo” Starks by Paul La Raia.

John “Jabo” Starks and Roy Burns Pass

As this month’s issue went into production, Modern Drummer was saddened to hear about the passing of the funk legend John “Jabo” Starks and the jazz drummer, author, and Aquarian Drumheads founder Roy Burns. Keep an eye out for tributes to both men in upcoming issues of MD.

Industry Happenings

Guitar Center Names Donny Gruendler Vice President of Music Education

Music instrument retailer Guitar Center recently appointed drummer, author, educator, and industry veteran Donny Gruendler to the position of vice president of music education. In this role Gruendler will help expand Guitar Center’s focus on music education programs to provide more individuals with the resources needed to learn the craft of music. Gruendler will spearhead Guitar Center’s Lessons program and engage with music educators nationwide.

A statement from the retailer says that Gruendler’s appointment reflects Guitar Center’s growing emphasis on music education, which also includes the expansion of Guitar Center Lessons facilities in recent months. Approximately 190 Lessons locations had already been established; by the end of 2018 the retailer plans on opening an additional 90 education facilities within their locations nationwide. The expansion will be accompanied by new offerings including DJ classes, electronic music production courses, and songwriting lessons.

Gruendler has a master’s degree in music from Wayne State University and a bachelor’s degree from the Berklee College of Music. Since 2016, he has served as president of the Musician’s Institute College of Contemporary Music. Gruendler is also an accomplished author and clinician, and his instructional material has appeared in several DVDs and mobile applications. “I’m very excited to join the Guitar Center team in this new role,” he says. “As an educator, I strive to reach as many students as possible, and Guitar Center gives me the opportunity to reach so many more, igniting a new spark and passion for music.”

Carles Pereira

Yamaha Names Carles Pereira 2018 Young Performing Artists Competition Winner

Carles Pereira, of Barcelona, Spain, has been selected as a winner of the 2018 Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) competition in the drumset category. The annual program, which is conducted by the band and orchestral division of Yamaha Corporation of America, honors emerging eighteen- to twenty-two-year-old artists for their extraordinary talents in jazz, classical, and contemporary genres. Pereira is one of the eleven musicians selected nationwide to earn the distinction in 2018.

Pereira, who is originally from Barcelona, Spain, moved with his family to Singapore, where he attended the Academy of Rock and was a member of the school’s flagship band. During this period, Pereira performed at many prestigious venues in Singapore and Southeast Asia. He’s currently a student at the Berklee College of Music.

The 2018 YYPA winners each receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the YYPA Celebration Weekend during Yamaha’s Music for All Summer Symposium, which this year is held June 25–30 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

Who’s Playing What

Conor Rayne (Brasstracks) has joined the Yamaha artist roster. Photo by Natalie Piserchio.

Josh Baker (Mariah Carey), John “JR” Robinson (studio), and Jason Bittner (Overkill, Shadows Fall) have joined the Cympad family of artists.


Jimmie Morales (Gilberto Santa Rosa, studio) has joined the Toca Percussion roster.