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Profiles Interviews

Pop and Rock Drummer Kenny Aronoff

John Bailey interviews IU alumnus Kenny Aronoff, one of the most influential and in-demand session drummers in the music business.

Kenny Aronoff in dark sunglasses, black T-shirt, wearing two necklaces, with tattoo on right arm that includes the word

Photo: Adam Schwartz/WFIU

Kenny Aronoff

I was 11 years old. One day my mom screamed at us “You gotta come in!” and the Beatles were on the TV. I saw them and said to my mom, “Call the Beatles. I want to be in a rock band.” That was the biggest high of my life.

In his four-decade career, Kenny Aronoff has performed with many top artists including Bob Seger, Melissa Etheridge, Joe Cocker, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Bob Seger, Bob Dylan, Elton John, and Rod Stewart. For much of his career he was based in Bloomington as the drummer for John Mellencamp.

The many posts Aronoff has held include house drummer for the Kennedy Center Honors, kit man for Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr on the Beatles’ CBS special The Night That Changed America, and professor of percussion at what is now the IU Jacobs School of Music.

Aronoff was named the #1 Pop/Rock Drummer for five consecutive years by the readers of Modern Drummer magazine, and sales of albums on which he’s appeared top $300 million. He is the author of the autobiography Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll!: The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business.

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