The answer is no one, thankfully. I saw him last night (not last night as you're reading this). I’m obviously not talking about the character from thankfully long-gone soap Dallas, I’m talking about drumming legend John “JR” Robinson. I was lucky enough to be in attendance at his masterclass in Manchester. I love attending masterclasses, you can learn so much in a laid-back environment and take in all the knowledge that is being shared. JR is truly a master, he has just been acknowledged as the most recorded drummer in history (although he joked that he might be rubbish and just had to do loads of takes) and comes across as a really nice guy.
The biggest part of the evening for me came right at the end, JR was playing along to some tracks throughout the evening and he finished with Rufus and Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody.” This made my night for 2 reasons. Firstly, it confirmed something I’ve preached to my students for years. When asked about playing the pattern JR confessed that it still changes for him on a regular basis and that he allows it to evolve. Its always nice to have your philosophies and approach confirmed by someone with such a drumming legacy. Secondly, the song was the first dance at my wedding and will therefore always have a special place in my heart.
Where I didn’t necessarily agree with the main man was quite early on in the evening. JR was feeling out the crowd and asked the assembled audience a couple of questions of his own. First off, he asked for a show of hands for people who were in bands, as you’d imagine from such an event there was a good amount of hands on show and next, he asked How many people are playing for money. Now, I don’t know if I’ve been having a sudden attack of Britishness or what but this really needled me, and its still not sitting well. My initial thought was “What the f@ck has that got to do with anything?” Obviously, money is important and my dearest wish is to be able to take We Are Troubadour full time but money is not my reason for playing the drums and I don’t think it should be anyone’s reason.
I’ve played a lot of gigs just for the money and it made me completely miserable. So miserable in fact that I stopped playing for 2 years. In this country the surest and easiest way to make money is to be in a covers band, which I did and it is just not for me, it turns it into a normal job and that is definitely not what I’m looking for. My band is everything to me, it’s a lot of work (fun work) its also my hobby and a great chance to get together with my friends and meet new people too. I never want it to stope being any of these things and if we are able to make a few quid to support our families then great but the reason for playing is to satisfy my soul and I believe that JR’s question should have put the emphasis on general happiness rather than finances.