Hi, everyone. It feels as though I was just wishing you a happy New Year and we were all freezing in the cold—especially here in the northeast—and now I’m saying, “Happy summer!”

Since we last spoke, I’ve been finishing up writing and recording with the original band members of my ’70s group, Mantus. We recently released a full-length album to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of our debut, which came out back in 1978. While we’re very proud of that album—at the time it was a top-ten hit on Billboard’s international dance charts—this time we went back to the pop and rock influences that we all grew up with. It’s been fun (most of the time) working with all the new recording technology and, now that it’s out, experimenting with the self-promotional power available through social media. It’s a whole different ballgame, but we’re adapting the best we know how. In a way, we’ve come full circle with this record, because our original engineer, Butch Jones, co-mixed the album, and my son, Matty, produced, played various instruments, and co-wrote with us. I’m happy to say that we’re all thrilled with how it came out. Thankfully, it’s being accepted pretty well so far. I guess you can teach old dogs new tricks.

If you haven’t been playing as much as you used to, think about setting some time aside so that you can get back to it, even if it’s just for fun (and if you’re my age, exercise). Hey, you never know where it could lead. These days it’s never too late to live your dreams. There were times over the past twenty years when I didn’t touch my drums for months at a time. Once I slowly started getting back into it, I found myself enjoying it more and more. So get started!

Another thing I’d like to share with you is that Modern Drummer has recently partnered with drummer and sound specialist David Frangioni on his new book, Crash: The World’s Greatest Drum Kits From Appice to Peart to Van Halen, which features photos and descriptions of iconic instruments used by drumming legends, going back more than half a century. Among them are Carl Palmer’s stainless-steel kit (bought from Ringo Starr), Hal Blaine’s famous multi-tom set, Alex Van Halen’s 2015 Ludwig set, and one of Buddy Rich’s Slingerland kits. Every kit was set up by longtime drum expert John Douglas and photographed by world famous rock photographer Mark Weiss.

Even cooler, many of the drums featured in the book are displayed in a brand-new museum housed at the Frangioni Media and Frangioni Foundation’s nonprofit Hit the DEC Drum Experience Center in south Florida. We’re especially honored that Hit the DEC brings the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame to life by displaying a number of Readers Poll plaques next to the recipients’ drums. Crash hits shelves in August and will feature special video content only available via Modern Drummer’s website and social media. Keep up with MD for more details and special upcoming events.

Finally, a bit of sad news. As many of you surely already know, this past February we lost Leon “Ndugu” Chancler, whose amazing career you can read all about in this month’s Backbeats department, in addition to tributes to Mr. Big’s Pat Torpey and solo-drumming pioneer Z’EV. Besides being a great drummer and teacher, Ndugu was a friend and a true gentleman. For me and many others, his drumming on Michael Jackson’s mega-hit “Billie Jean” proved that a drummer could play as precisely as a drum machine and still groove like only a human can. We owe each of these gentlemen for their inspiration.

Until next time, hug the ones you love, play your music, and enjoy the issue.




Billy Amendola
Editor at Large