Vinnie Colaiuta is the complete package: monster chops, spot-on sight-reading skills, natural feel, proven versatility, and tasteful, musical execution. Often cited as one of the greatest drummers of our time, Colaiuta’s blend of technical mastery and artful eloquence has boggled minds for decades, and his extensive drumming resume, ranging from Megadeth to Joni Mitchell to Herbie Hancock, shows he can do it all — and then some.
Before rising to the top of the drumming world, Colaiuta grew up banging pots and pans before graduating to toy sets with paper heads. Acquiring his first real drum set at age 14, Colaiuta spent his high school years taking music lessons, attending music camps at West Virginia University, and playing in the drum corps. After graduating, he spent a year playing in local bands before attending Berklee College Of Music in Boston, where he learned about arranging and the finer points of the craft under Gary Chaffee.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1978, Colaiuta successfully auditioned for Frank Zappa, which included sight-reading the absurdly difficult piece “Mo ’N Herb’s Vacation” on Terry Bozzio’s kit and playing double-bass patterns for the first time. The gig launched his professional career and allowed him to explore odd time signatures and polyrhythms on such notable albums as Joe’s Garage, Tinsel Town Rebellion, and Shut Up ‘N’ Play Yer Guitar.
After his stint with Zappa, Colaiuta worked for a variety of other musicians, including Joni Mitchell, Barbra Streisand, Gino Vannelli, Wang Chung, Sandy & Junior, and Jeff Beck. In 1990 Colaiuta successfully auditioned for Sting’s touring band, as Sting hit the road to support The Soul Cages. He remained a permanent member of Sting’s band for the next seven years and can be heard on albums such as Ten Summoner’s Tales, Mercury Falling, and Brand New Day. He also released a self-titled solo record in 1994, featuring twisted polyrhythmic jazz, sample-based hip-hop grooves, and Pat Methenyesque soundscapes.
Colaiuta remains one of the most in-demand studio drummers today, appearing on soundtracks, television and radio jingles, and countless albums. He has also received a mountain of drumming awards.