We spoke to drummer Terry Bozzio last weekend for a piece that will be posted on Friday regarding his clinic performance sponsored by the Drum Center of Lexington.
Due to space limitations, we had to exclude the following passage. Here Bozzio describes events leading up to his three-year stint with Frank Zappa, the guitarist, composer and bandleader that essentially introduced the world to the one of the most celebrated rock and prog drummers of the past four decades.
“I have to give credit to my teachers and my music education at College of Marin (in Marin County, California). I went there for two years and got an associate in arts degree as a commercial music major. When I left College of Marin, I immediately got a couple of show gigs in San Francisco and started playing with all the jazz guys there. Before you know it, I was one of the better known guys.
“My first recording experience was playing behind Jack DeJohnette, one of my favorite drummers. He was actually playing piano on John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme with Joe Henderson and Eddie Henderson on saxophone and trumpet (the recording session was for trumpeter Luis Gasca’s 1974 album, Born to Love You). I fell into this amazing situation. Then when Frank Zappa had auditioned all the drummers in Los Angeles, he started looking in other towns. (Zappa keyboardist and future funk/fusion star George Duke called Eddie Henderson and asked if he knew any drummers and he said, ‘Yeah, Terry, the guy I played with on this record with me, is really good.’ So I got the audition with Frank and won it, although I didn’t think I was good enough.
“Zappa was 10 years older than me and a true genius. It was an incredible experience, an incredible learning experience. I was challenged and pushed and he brought things out in me that I didn’t know I could do – the character and acting development, ways to sing and play drums at the same time, odd time signatures. It was all stuff I didn’t know I could do.
“He was just wonderful. Always push, push, push, push, push. I ended up doing a movie (Baby Snakes), 10 albums and three world tours with him – orchestral stuff and Saturday Night Live, too. Just an amazing experience. It was like marine boot camp. From there, I’ll take credit for whatever talent I developed through the work I’ve done. But if it wasn’t for Frank Zappa, you wouldn’t know who the hell I am.”