A tribute to and scrapbook of Joe Amato, world-class drummer and respected teacher header image 3

Getting Started

Over the years I have had many vehicles that needed a little help getting started from time to time. A ‘68 Ford Falcon that needed a fanbelt, a starter motor a battery and a jump every winter. For a long time I drove air cooled VW buses with manual transmissions. They were so easy to start with a slight push and a 2nd gear clutch pop I drove that sucker for over a year with a shot starter system. Now I have Subaru. It is so dependable it’s spooky. 2010,000 miles and it is only on it’s 2nd battery.  Long may it run. So much for cars. How about getting started on the drums?

What made you want to play drums? Don’t get me wrong drums are cool! why would anyone not want to play them? But when I think way back to some of my first exposure to music, 50 odd years ago, my old man had a little record collection and he built himself a Heathkit Hi Fi set to play them on. It was an old tube set with a great  Garrard turntable. Every payday he would buy a record, back then you could find them in grocery stores or of course at Pools Music (later Thiels Music) he’d bring home some jazz, classical, showtunes, the Kingston Trio, really mix it up ya see. One Friday he brought home this LP that showed a close-up of a parade drummer’s hands playing a roll.  Album covers were big productions back then, and this photo used just the right time lapse setting so that it looked like the drummer was using 12 sticks at once. I was instantly impressed. A year or 2 later I heard Wipeout by the Sufaries or maybe it was the Ventures on KAST’s Platter Party. That jungle rhythm made my blood boil. I kept listening to the Platter Party each week night and the next thing to really set me on my ear was I Can See For Miles by the Who. By then I had a super crappy catalog snare, some OK bongos and was saving up for a set. My brother Pete got a big Trutone guitar for about $30 at the Astoria Western Auto. Dave Neikes had a harmonica and could sing real loud over about 4 octaves. We stared learning some Bob Dylan and Creedence Clearwater and took our little acoustic show out in the middle of the Walluski wilderness. We  played loud enough that some of the gals in the neighborhood started stopping by to check us out. We were on our way to some good times man.

NEXT:  going electric

by Pierce

Discuss - 4 Comments

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John Moore // Mar 26, 2008 at 10:59 am

    First: thanks to Pierce for this opprtunity to talk about Joe. I first met him in 1961 while in High school in Astoria. Pierce’s account of his first meeting with Joe is identical to my experience. He was determining if you were worth his time, and he was very exacting. He was dedicated to turning out drummers who knew the rudiments forward and back. That basement studio was where we sweated and worked at becoming drummers under the guidance of a true master musician and helluva guy. He would send me home after the ordeal with a huge braid of “Italian Candy ” for my Mom.

  • 2 Pierce // Mar 27, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Thanks for the post John. I apologize if it got screwed up going through the moderator. That won’t happen again.
    Sounds like maybe you and I both came to Joe needing to unlearn our self taught technique before we could adopt the proper one. Had you been playing in the school band prior to meeting Joe?

  • 3 Jim Mattila // Aug 11, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I just found the “original” copy of Joe Amato’s NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RUDIMENTAL DRUMMERS certificate.
    He is #22. It is dated June 8th, 1934. It is signed by the registar (Wm. F. Ludwig), and under “examining judge” it degrees Joe is an HONORARY MEMBER.
    I am not sure of the signature of the presidents, because his signature is difficult to decipher, however, I think it says something like…”J. Burns Hood.

  • 4 Pierce // Aug 12, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    That is great news Jim. What a find. J. Burns Moore a was the first president of NARD according to their website. You can read blurb about him here.
    I guess that puts Joe pretty much in on the ground floor of standardized rudiments.
    Sorry about having so little new on the site lately, but this is the peak of the season for my business, catering to all the vacationers while trying to get some outdoor fun in myself is most time consuming.

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