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Gregg Bissonette talks about David Lee Roth’s musical knowledge

Gregg Bissonette

Classic Rock

Gregg Bissonette talks about David Lee Roth’s musical knowledge

Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1959, the drummer Gregg Bissonette played with a huge amount of artists over the decades. He first achieved fame as a member of David Lee Roth‘s solo band, being part of his three first albums, which were quite successful.


After that first line-up dissolved, the musician still recorded with many other artists. Some of them were Joe Satriani, Robin Zander, Richie Kotzen, Enrique Iglesias, Andy Summers, Paul Anka and many more. In 2003 he became the drummer of Ringo Starr’s band The Roundheads and since 2008 he is the drummer of Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band.

In an interview with Final Resonance TV (Transcribed by Ultimate Guitar), the musician talked about his time with the Van Halen vocalist. He recalled that Roth is a musicologist and knew everything about the artists Gregg had worked with.

Gregg Bissonette talks about David Lee Roth’s musical knowledge

“He’s a musicologist. I remember the first day I met him, he said, ‘Well, who did you play with before you came down here?’ I told him the truth, I said, ‘I was just playing with Gino Vannelli.’ And he goes, ‘Gino Vannelli?! ‘I Just Wanna Stop’? ‘Living Inside Myself’? ‘Brother to Brother’?’ He knew all about Gino Vannelli.”

“‘What about before that?’ And I [thought] oh man, now I’m really going to be losing him. ‘Maynard Ferguson Big Band.’ And Dave said, ‘Maynard Ferguson? The great high note trumpet player that covered Herbie Hancock’s ‘Chameleon’ and ‘The Theme from Rocky’?'”

He continued:

“And then he said, ‘Man, if you can power that 18-piece big band, surely you can power the four of us. Payday starts Friday. Let’s go get some Mex food.’ And we got in the cool ‘Panama’ car and had Mex food!” Gregg Bissonette said.

During the same conversation, the musician also said that David Lee Roth never tried to control his playing. He would always encourage Gregg to play anything he wanted and to add solos, for example during the performances.

“Dave gave me a great chance to play anything I wanted. He said, ‘Why don’t you do a crazy thing here? Why don’t you play a solo?”

“Instead of the normal drum solo that only appeals to dudes with Zildjian shirts, why don’t you play a solo on top of your drums, standing on your drums? Make your bass drums twice as long, get up, put a little ‘Shyboy’ beat in a drum machine, and stand on your drums,” Gregg Bissonette said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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