ABOVE: A young Rick Brownell learns a rudiment from his father, Bob Brownell, when the Brownell family lived in Hartford, Connecticut.

“Paradiddle Joe, Swings at the chorus in a fascinating way, Sends all the boys and girls to come to hear him play, Paradiddle doodle all the day.”  (as played by Henry Riggs)

I’ve had a love for the drums from the first time I saw my Dad play. Bob Brownell was a good drummer that picked up the hobby late in life. While selling life insurance in Hartford, Connecticut he was fortunate to study with Joe Porcaro, one of the most accomplished drummers and teachers on the scene today, and father of the late great Jeff Porcaro of Toto fame. Bob played drums in the Fiercely Enthusiastic Jazz Band (F.E.J.B.) in Hartford, CONN.
I got serious about music and drumming when my Dad bought me my first set of red sparkle Ludwigs when I was in 8th grade. I would get off the bus, run down the driveway … yell to my Mom that I was home, sprint up to my bedroom and turn on the stereo real loud and play along to …. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels:

“Devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress ….devil with the blue dress on… dada dada dada dada da da … Wearin' her wig hat and shades to match She's got high-heel shoes and an alligator hat ….

Or Vanilla Fudge:

“Set me free why don’t you babe … Get out my life why don’t you babe OOooo, You don’t really love me … you just keep me hangin on.”

Carmine Appice was amazing when I was in grade school; not so much anymore. Now I've moved on to admiring guys like Dave Dicenso.

I remember another record I listened to over and over again as well ... my poor mother having to listen to my drumming to the same songs over and over again;

"Round, round get around, I get around .... OOOoo Get around, round, round ... I get around."

I was in a band in junior high school and later on at boarding school in New York. I fooled around on the drums for years, just copying other drummers, sitting in for a solo on occasion when my Dad's band played.

For awhile I lived in Berwyn, PA. with Rob Wessel and played with him in a band doing his original songs before moving to CA.

My first gigging band was with the Jim Sarkissian band in Devon, Pennsylvania, doing covers from Gordon Lightfoot to the Moody Blues at parties. That is the band I was playing in when I met Ron Jennings, a great guitar player and Jimi Hendrix imitator, who greatly influenced my love for music. We were worlds apart socially, but otherwise from the same side of the tracks musically.

Ron really challenged me to attack the drums and try different rhythms, and was always an inspiration. Ron later went on to play with LuvPark, and became a fine studio guitarist in PA. recording with Bootsie Collins and doing all the guitar underscoring for The Fabulous Funk Brothers: ‘Standing in the Shadows of Motown,’ among other things. We played together in various rock bands in PA., and Ron moved to CA to play with me there for awhile as well while I was finishing my college stint at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

When I first moved to CA. in 1972, Kevin Mahan was playing sax in a 60-70s club band and asked if I would play drums for ‘The Sons of Grease.’ I had known Kevin when my parents lived in CA. for a few years and I was in 7th and 8th grade with Scott Kirby and Kevin. Kevin and I had a lot of fun playing 60-70s cover tunes in that big club in Oxnard for that summer. Some times we would get a little rowdy and show up for the second set as ‘Pelvic Thrust and Hip Gyrations.’

After that gig, Kevin and I played with Michael Brewin in Santa Barbara, a good jazz and prog-rock guitarist doing some of Michael’s originals and pop jazzy cover tunes.

After my return to San Marino, I played with Peter Day, Ben Brooks and Rick Mapel in various bands doing originals. Rococco was by far my most ambitious band attempt and in retrospect, some of my best drumming.

I probably could have suffered along as a musician being poor and happy in Rococco until the day I died. But God had other plans.

Time passed and I went to seminary in Portland, Oregon near the end of 1980. There I started playing drums with ‘The People Next Door,” a group of Christian musicians and vocalists founded by Bill Berry and folks from Sunset Presbyterian Church. We played James Taylor, Michael W. Smith and 4 Him songs for various events and worship services around Portland, OR. We recorded a Christmas Special for a local network at Bill Berry’s recording studio in Wilsonville, OR.

I later moved to Springfield, OR. and played with Neil Patton at EBF Church. Neil is a fine producer, pianist and songwriter. It was while I was in Springfield that I also hooked up with Tempermental and recorded a CD of their originals with them in a studio in Eugene. It was the first time I had recorded music using a click track.

Today I own a custom-made set of GMS maple acoustic drums and a Hart Dynamics 6.4 pro electric set. I have recently been playing at various churches with friends and look forward to slamming down the time and rhythm whenever I get the chance.

— Rick Brownell, below ... playing his custom Grand Master Series drums


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