Happy Birthday! Terry Bozzio

Mr. Terry John Bozzio was born this day in 1950, in San Francisco, CA. He’s had an active career as a musician since the early 1970’s, lending his talents to a plethora of recordings over the last 5 decades, and he’s STILL a phenomenal musician!

I became aware of Terry in 1982 with the release of “Spring Session M” by the band Missing Persons. I had been playing drums for quite some time by then, and had my heroes, but Terry was something altogether different. His playing was explosive and frankly dangerous sounding, but at the same time he displayed technical skills that were basically beyond my comprehension- and I was no slouch! I had never heard anyone, ever, play drums like this guy, and I wanted to know everything about him.

Since this was the pre-internet days, information was limited to say the least, but I poured over every magazine and newspaper article I could find on him or the band, and when I’d learn of another group he played with, or another drummer that influenced him I’d seek out their records in the used record stores we used to have around town. I was mildly obsessed.

When I learned Missing Persons was releasing a second album, I was ecstatic as well as intrigued. It was in an article about Terry that I learned he basically designed an electronic drum kit, from the ground up, for that record and tour. At the time, drum machines were fairly new on the scene and electronic drums – what few there were – were more novelties than instruments. But Terry wanted to mimic the sounds of a drum machine, with an actual drummer, and again when the album came out (Rhyme & Reason) it blew my mind. I’d never heard anything like it. It was completely different than their previous album and yet, it was undoubtedly Terry. It took me a long time to absorb that record honestly, and of the Missing Persons catalog it sounds the most “dated” now, but it was revolutionary at the time. And if I recall, he actually got a patent on the electric drums he invented!

The Rhyme & Reason e-drum era.
The world’s first bespoke electric drum set?

It was sometime around their second album that I discovered that I’d heard Terry before Missing Persons, I just didn’t know it. When I was really young, like 5th grade or so, I had an older neighbor that used to let me hang out and listen to records and he used to play Frank Zappa albums, particularly “Live in New York” which Terry was on! As it turned out, Terry played on a bunch of Zappa records and if you know ANYTHING about Zappa, you know he only used the best of the best musicians for his bands. So this really elevated his status with me, even though I was already quickly becoming his biggest fan from his work in Missing Persons.

A couple years later Missing Persons came out with “Color in Your Life”, which was again very different from their earlier work, but just phenomenal. To this day it remains my favorite record of theirs.

They saved the best for last…

During this period, Terry began endorsing the new Remo drum line and set out on a clinic tour. At the end of the tour, they put his drum set up for sale at the San Jose Guitar Center, and since I was an up and coming drummer myself and gigging a lot, I splurged and bought Terry’s used kit. It was a dream come true!! (I had that kit for the majority of my musical “career” until it was sadly stolen in the early 2000’s by a filthy scumbag. But I digress…)

The Terry Bozzio Remo Encore setup…
My Terry Kit, in some club somewhere…the only thing I changed were the “BOZZIO” bass drum heads.

Sometime around the late 90’s, Missing Persons got back together for a reunion show in LA, and fortunately for me my best friend Bret (who lived there at the time) not only got us tickets, but also arranged for us to meet the band! So yes, I was lucky enough to meet my hero and he was as nice and gracious as you could possibly imagine. Another dream come true! Then the band went out and played one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in my life! It was mesmerizing. And finally, after a decade plus of struggle, some of his secrets were revealed and I was finally able to figure out a lot of parts that had eluded me for years! It was beyond awesome.

I’ve continued to follow him all these years, we even had a brief correspondence via email regarding the composition of the Remo drum shells, etc. and I was able to see him live in a solo setting a number of years ago, which was another spectacular experience.

I don’t throw the word genius around often, but in the world of music it is a title deserved by Terry Bozzio.

Yes, I was a drummer BEFORE I knew of Terry, and yes I have many other influences and drummers I admire, but Terry formed me as an artist more than any other, and without his work I would not be the drummer I am today. And not just about drums – he inspired me to write lyrics, to get interested in the production side of making records, the strive to be an artist, not only a drummer. And he made it cool to be smart, to read books, to explore, to have other interests outside of music. I owe the man a lot!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mr. Bozzio, for all your work throughout the decades. My life is richer for it, undoubtedly.

Cheers to you and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Thanks for stopping by.

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