By Franklin Abbott
Terry Bozzio has been ranked the the 5th “Greatest Drummer of All Time” by Rolling Stone magazine. He is known for his work on 26 albums with Frank Zappa, seven with Missing Persons and a solo career where he has produced nine albums.
Bozo says, “I got to play with all my heroes.” A native of San Francisco, Bozzio was just 13 when he first saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. Inspired by Ringo Starr, he begged his father for drum lessons. He studied classical music in college and played in jam sessions as a young musician. Bozzio describes his audition with Frank Zappa as “the hardest music I’d ever seen.” Zappa liked what he heard and took the young drummer to dinner.
Playing with Zappa required discipline and lots of rehearsal. Zappa’s music was constantly evolving. After years of collaboration, Zappa, sensing Bozzio’s interest had gone in other directions, sent him on his way. This was a difficult parting for Bozzio, but one that was ultimately liberating. He could be his own musician and write and collaborate based on what was compelling to him. Bozzio did studio work, worked on film scores, worked with a variety of top musicians including Mark Isham and Zakir Hussain.
He toured widely and also spent time painting. His latest project “Terry Bozzio Composer Series” pairs 59 of his paintings with 59 of his musical compositions.
“We are all vibrating molecules,” says Bozzio. “Music is a metaphor for the harmonic overtones that happen in nature.”
In performance Bozzio pulls together the largest tuned drum and percussion set in the world that includes bass drums and banks of cymbals. He describes his music as orchestral and atmospheric, an experience in time travel that brings together melody and rhythm from jazz, classical and world music traditions. He practices what he teaches and tells a story with his music taking his audience with him on a journey charted in vibrations.
Bozo will perform at City Winery on Saturday, Sept. 3. For tickets and dinner reservations, visit citwinery.com.
Franklin Abbott is an Atlanta psychotherapist and consultant, writer and community organizer.