An Editor’s Overview

The Uncommon Man

by Billy Amendola

Hello, everyone! We’re already well into the new year, and I always like to take the opportunity around this time to thank readers, drum industry members, and everyone else who has supported Modern Drummer over the past forty-one years. Some of you will be picking up this issue at the winter National Association of Music Merchants show, the enormous gathering of dealers, manufacturer reps, and artists that takes place in Anaheim, California, each year. I’ll be at NAMM with my fellow MD staffers Mike Dawson and Miguel Monroy, and we’re all excited to check out some new gear and to thank some of you personally for your support.

This month’s cover artist, Kenny Aronoff, is no stranger to Modern Drummer readers. Like so many of you, I’ve held him in high regard for many years, and I was excited to conduct our latest interview with him. I’ve been fortunate to witness Kenny laying down his magic in the recording studio firsthand; he’s a perfectionist, he’s always prepared for anything, and he’s utterly unique, traits that have helped keep him at the very top of his game for decades.

After a few short minutes of being in the studio with Kenny, who recently released his autobiography, Sex, Drums, Rock ’n’ Roll!, you understand why everyone wants to work with him. “I hire Kenny because I want him in the room with me when I’m making a record,” famed producer and Blue Note Records president Don Was says in the book. “He saves my sessions.”

“The way he hit his snare drum was above and beyond anyone [else],” singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge says. “You knew it was him. His sound was the sound of the late ’80s and ’90s.”

“Kenny always plays the drums like he’s excited.” That’s how Creedence Clearwater Revival leader and frequent Aronoff employer John Fogerty puts it. “He’s like a kid when [he’s] discovering a new drum part he wants to try. He’s excited, and it’s a contagious thing. I’m an excitable boy myself.”

To get a broad perspective on Kenny for his latest MD profile, I spoke to his family and peers. “Kenny is married to his career,” his wife, Gina (a kick-ass drummer herself), told me. “It’s always come first. He travels a lot, and even when he’s home he’s always working. He’s very motivated and positive, which definitely affects the way I approach my own life and career. His schedule is so full, and it changes daily. But we have an amazing life that’s filled with lots of love and with opportunities that most people don’t have.”

“I was very fortunate to get to hang and learn from Kenny back in the early ’80s, in Bloomington, Indiana,” session drummer and former Aronoff student Shawn Pelton tells MD. “MTV was just starting out, and Kenny’s big sound, deep pocket, and hard-hitting approach were all over the airwaves with the John Mellencamp hits of that time. It was incredibly exciting to get to see him play local gigs as well as the big arena shows. Kenny was always so open, generous, and giving. Words can’t express how much I learned from him, on so many different levels, and how that has helped me survive as a drummer in this crazy business. He is truly the best, and he’ll always be a deep source of inspiration to me, with his huge heart and a kick-ass pocket.”

Besides Kenny’s piece, be sure to read our interviews with Hall and Oates drummer Brian Dunne, fan faves Mike Portnoy and Dave Weckl, and more. As usual, there’s a great deal to be learned. Enjoy the issue.

Billy Amendola

Editor at Large