Versatile is a good word to start off describing Peter Erskine’s drumming, but it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the famous composer, bandleader, and go-to studio ace's talents. While jamming with some of the greatest jazz artists of all time, and lending his sticks to artists as far from the jazz spectrum as Queen Latifah and Kate Bush, as well as holding down the rhythm section for Weather Report for a number of years, Erskine is one of the most respected drummers around.
Born in 1954 in Somers Point, New Jersey, Erskine first sat down at the kit at the age of four. After many years of intense playing in his hometown, Erskine decided to take his love of drums and music up a level and attended the famed Interlocken Arts Academy in northern Michigan. Erskine graduated from Interlocken and went on to attend Indiana University, where his main focus of study was percussion. Then, at just 18 years old, Erskine had the opportunity that many drummers two or three times his age would’ve killed for: He joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra, where he remained for three years.
After leaving Kenton, Erskine joined up with Maynard Ferguson for a few years. Then, in 1978, at the behest of legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius, Erskine joined the influential fusion band Weather Report, which was well known for pushing the boundaries of jazz, rock, fusion, and experimental music. Unfortunately, they were also known for not being able to hold on to a drummer for more than a few months. However, after Erskine came along, the drum seat was occupied comfortably for four years.
Aside from contributing to the worlds of jazz and fusion, Erskine has also sat in with artists such as Linda Ronstadt, Diana Krall, and Steely Dan. He has also written numerous books on the essence of drum playing, and currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University Of Southern California.