If a drummer is defined by the artists who choose to play with him, then John Guerin is as good as it gets. Self-taught on drums, keyboard, and other instruments, Guerin was an incredibly versatile musician, producer, and composer for 40 years. By the time he passed away of pneumonia on January 5, 2004 he was one of the most recorded drummers of all time.
Born in 1939 in Hawaii but raised in San Diego, Guerin began his mainstream professional career playing with clarinetist Buddy DeFranco in 1960. During the ’60s and ’70s he was the drummer of choice for hundreds of albums, movie, and TV dates. His special talent was supporting the song, adding mystery and clarity that turned ordinary recordings into pop masterpieces. Easily spanning the worlds of traditional jazz, hard bop, rock, folk, R&B, and pop, Guerin recorded with Sinatra, Frank Zappa, Thelonious Monk, Lou Rawls, Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt, Sheena Easton, and hundreds more. He produced amazing soundtracks such as Clint Eastwood's Bird and was the drummer on the theme to Hawaii Five-O.
In 1973 he formed L.A. Express with saxophonist Tom Scott and guitarist Robben Ford. Joni Mitchell invited them to record her Court And Spark, which like so many things Guerin touched, turned gold. He and the group stayed with her for five albums. Guerin lived to play and was performing up until a week before he died. He was a man who found peace by giving his all to the music he loved, and once said of being a studio musician, "I couldn't think of a better way of making a living."
Disregard the wolf intro and look for Guerin rocking in the second minute of the video.