Johnny Rabb is an American drummer characterised by his incredible speed and his ability to play single stroke rolls as well as modern Drum and Bass style beats with considerable style and ease. Johnny currently performs with his original duo Ten Finger Orchestra & Johnny Rabb, rock band U.S.S.A. (with Duane Denison, Paul Barker and Gary Call) and his Drum ‘N’ Bass group BioDiesel (featuring Clay Parnell and Borahm Lee). Rabb has added turntables to his arsenal of innovative drum sounds. Johnny refers to his drum / turntable set up as DrumJockey. The visual antics of the TFO & Johnny Rabb show include juggling routines using drumsticks while they are playing.
Rabb got into drumming at an early age. His parents got him a toy drum set for Christmas when he was only three years old. They also took him to local high school concerts and parades where he was captivated by the drummers and percussionists he saw. "I totally became addicted after attending these events" states Rabb. At first there was no formal training for the young Johnny and he learned to play by ear. He sites these early days as frustrating, but a lot of fun. He eventually began formal drum lessons with Michael Lawson at the age of 10.
With the support of his parents and the influence of live concerts and instructional clinics, Johnny began to excel at a tremendous rate. Johnny’s dedication to his new love and eventual life’s pursuit led him to the prestigious Berklee College of Music to pursue degrees in Education and Performance.
After the course of study and musical experimentation, Johnny relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, where he invented the award-winning RhythmSaw. Playing with touring notables such as Tanya Tucker and Hank Williams III provided the excitement of live performances, along with the creative contribution of writing and developing children’s books/videos and educational workshops.
Johnny was asked to participate in an event sponsored by the Nashville Percussion Institute by founder Boo McAfee. Johnny has the uncanny ability to play single-stroke rolls at an incredible speed. With the assistance of McAfee and a device named the DRUMOMETER, the first competition for The World’s Fastest Drummer was born. Johnny won hands down and, in doing so, came to the attention of the Guinness World Records committee. Johnny was asked to defend his title live at the Guinness World Records Experience in Orlando, Florida. The attempt was documented by VH-1 for a show called Rock & Roll Record Breakers. Johnny not only defended but broke the existing world record of 1026 to play 1071 single strokes in 60 seconds.
Johnny is featured in seven interactive displays at the Guinness World Attractions, including Orlando, FL, Gatlinburg, TN, Hollywood, CA, and Copenhagen, Denmark.
Johnny is currently participating in a number of clinics throughout the world to outstanding reviews. He performed a memorable show to a capacity crowd at the Montreal Drumfest and also performed in France, Italy, and at the Musik Messe in Frankfurt, Germany… a tour together with Marco Minnemann and Thomas Lang.
Johnny has been a faculty member for the KOSA Festival for the past two years. He was honored to be able to play at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Nashville, TN.
He has published his own instructional drum videos, children’s books, and solo album. He has designed “The Rabb Pack,” a Signature Series of cymbals for the MEINL Cymbal Company. Johnny believes that education is the most important element for the future and continues to find opportunities to share his knowledge with musicians worldwide.
Johnny is an active clinician performing hundreds of dates per year. He is a product specialist for the Roland Corporation providing clinics and training on the full line of V-DRUMS and electronic percussion instruments. He keeps busy with teaching, conducting master-classes and other workshops for DW/PDP, PRO-MARK, REMO and MEINL.
He has played with other artists/groups SheDaisy, Tanya Tucker, Hank Williams III, Deana Carter and Mindy McCready. In 2003, Johnny had the honor of touring with jazz trumpet legend, Maynard Ferguson.
He continues to perform freelance with MASAKing (Japanese DJ/HPD-10 artist), Chris Patterson (Drumjockey/Percussion/Steel Pan).
Johnny resides in Nashville, TN and has worked in all aspects of the drum business. From owning a stick business to a performing artist, he continues to explore the drum world as a clinician, solo artist and touring studio drummer.
Johnny Rabb is highly motivated to continue to improve and learn as much as possible on the drums;
"Each drummer I see has a different personality and style. This is what keeps me excited and headed down the path of never ending drum knowledge. There are so many great drummers in the world and I respect all of them. It is because of them that I am able to stay inspired and motivated."
As a renowned clinician and an educator Rabb stays humble and rooted to the gorund;
"I try to realize that I am one of many that have something to share. When I was younger, I would get a little nervous in front of audiences. I never really had stage fright, but did worry about what the crowd might think of my performance. Then, I realized something after speaking to my friend and amazing drummer Nathaniel Townsley. Nathaniel always seems to play effortlessly and with such control. I love his playing and musicianship. I asked him if he ever got insecure or felt frozen about what he had just played. He responded by telling me that there was no reason why he should be worried. He then told me that he loved playing and always played what his heart told him during that moment. This made me realize that when I perform I have a choice to make. I can either worry and self-destruct my own performance, or not worry and play the drums to the best of my ability. When I start to worry or get a bit of stage fright, I remind myself not to worry, have fun and to play in the moment Thanks Nathaniel!"
When preparing for NAMM or Musikmesse, Johnny usually just makes sure he has quite a repertoire of music ready. He uses the Roland SPD-S to perform DJ like shows. He utilizes a large assortment of patches that he has made over the years that work for most any event. This combined with improvisation makes up 99% of his clinics, shows or other performances. For young and upcoming drummers he suggests they learn as many different styles of music as possible. Also, he stresses associating yourself with other instruments for use as a writing tool;
"It is a great feeling to play along with music that you compose. The last thing is to just keep going for what you believe in. I feel like we can do most anything that we put our minds to."
The Jungle/Drum ‘n’ Bass book was his first major release through a publisher;
"I am still very happy that book got finished and is still in print. It took a long time to compile my ideas, transcriptions and exercises, but in the end it came out how I hoped. My introduction to Jungle/DNB was from a friend in Sacramento, CA. He asked me if I have ever heard Jungle. I had not, so at the time I went to Tower Records, and grabbed whatever I could that had Jungle or Drum ‘n’ Bass in the title. I bought many compilation CDs that included DJ Goldie, Roni Size, LTJ Bukem and more. As soon as I got home I listened to what I had purchased and immediately started to transcribe it. I loved the tempo and energy of it. It wasn’t because it was fast, it was because it was so precise yet broken phrasing. The next thing I bought was a sample CD called Jungle Warfare III. This had a ton of beats and cuts used for producing this type of record. I would practice to this sampling CD for hours just trying to get the feel and sound together."
The process of writing an instructional drum book can be very tedious says Rabb;
"However, the end result is the rewarding part of the time spent working it all out. I started with many transcriptions and original exercises that I wrote out. I kept everything in a notebook and just kept expanding my library of information. The more that I compiled, the easier it was to develop a flow for the book. Then I eventually was able to make a Table of Contents. From there it takes months of working with the publisher to layout the book format, add photos, edit, proof read and finally print! There was also an audio CD included which was a lot of fun, but a big learning process. Just remember to do your audio after you have the final Blue line copy of the book in front of you. This way all your track numbers will line up correct with the contents of the book."
Rabb sites as just a few of his drum heroes; Neil Peart, Steve Smith, Steve Jordan, Gregg Bissonette, Vinnie C., Dennis Chambers, Tony Williams, Phil Gould, Simon Phillips, Jonathon Mover, Charlie Drayton, Abe Laboriel Jr., Peter Erskine, Omar Hakim, Robbie Ameen, Dave Weckl, Terry Bozzio, Gerry Brown, Ignacio Berroa, and others.
The Freehand Technique started for him after watching a video called JUST ADVANCE by Kenwood Dennard. In his video, Kenwood demonstrates a one-handed roll using the rim as the fulcrum. This inspired Johnny to create a full curriculum and method to allow the ability to play any rhythm with one hand. He uses the term Freehand since it allows the other hand to remain free to play grooves or ostinatos. His first book and video on the subject was released in 1999 and was produced by Jim Keltner. Rabb sites Jim as the one person who convinced him to put out a video and book on the subject. He was still in the age of VHS videotape and was now entered the age of DVDs and downloads. His book and VHS went obsolete in the early 2000s. With the popularity of YouTube and the internet, his technique was broadcast without consent and unfortunately copied and made into a DVD method. This was very upsetting to Rabb for many reasons. The primary reason was the video was poorly executed and almost done as a cheap infomercial. So, now a book is available through Hudson Limited entitled The Official Freehand Technique. The book comes with an audio CD with examples of exercises, solos, drumset grooves, and play-a-longs for you to check out. This technique works extremely well on both acoustic and electronic drums and other percussion instruments. I am now in the process of a DVD which will go into more details of the Freehand Technique. If you want to check out more about this please visit www.hudsonmusic.com or www.myspace.com/johnnyrabb
A summary of Johnny Rabb's recording and touring career outside of clinics and festivals:
While living in Sacramento, CA 1995-1996; Michael Lee Firkins-EUROPEAN TOUR, Larry Tagg-Recorded tracks for Album ROVER and live gigs, Scott Reams-Recorded tracks for Album, Tony Windle-Recorded tracks for Album Contemporary Jazz
Analysis-Recorded tracks for Album and Performed Live, produced Hip House Groove-Instructional Video, 1996-Moved to Nashville, TN, Tanya Tucker-Toured on and off from 1997-2004, started johnnyraBB Drumstick Company- 1998-2004; Maynard Ferguson Big Band-2003, Roland V-DRUM Artist and Clinician 2004-Present, Mindy McCready-Substitute gig-2004, formed DrumJockeys with partner Chris Patterson-2005-Present www.myspace.com/drumjockeys, Deanna Carter-Tour 2006, joined U.S.S.A. Band-Recorded The Spoils Album and Toured 2007, formed BioDiesel with partner Clay Parnell-2007-Present
He is currently involved in three different band projects. BioDiesel, U.S.S.A. and DrumJockeys. Johnny states the key to keeping multiple groups alive is to communitcate about scheduling. He uses whatever calendar tools he can to organize things as busy as he is, if he double books he is a firm believer in staying true to the gig he was first commited to, even if it is not the higher paying gig - [NOTE: a class act as well as phenominal musician ~DD].
Music and Drum education are both totally important to Rabb and for anyone serious about getting better at their instrument. He started playing drums for fun like most everyone else and still considers it fun, however has been able to take it to a professional level by studying with serious teachers and at the college level. Rabb states that he feels education never stops;
"A large part of my professional career is spent writing articles, books or working on online lesson content. I recently joined forces with Mike Johnston doing online video lessons. Mike has made it possible to teach real-time lessons via web-cam to hundreds of students at once. I recommend that you check it out if you get a chance." www.mikeslessons.com
Johnny Rabb has won the Worlds Fastest Drummer title twice and is featured in numerous interactive displays at various Guinness World Centre attractions. He does numerous clinic tours, with drummers such as Thomas Lang and Marco Minnemann.
Johnny Rabb (born February 29, 1972 in Fairfax, Virginia ) is a professional live/studio drummer, author, inventor, and instructor.
As a Product Specialist for Roland V-DRUMS, Rabb performs around 70 international clinic dates per year. He is endorsed by several companies including: Drum Workshop, Pacific Drums and Percussion, Remo, Audix Microphones, Prologix, Blowit Fans, Drumometer, and HansenFutz.
Rabb designed a series of cymbals with the MEINL company: Drumbals and Safari cymbals are part of MEINL's Generation X line. For Pro-Mark Drumstick's Autograph Series, Johnny Rabb designed his signature stick, TX7731W.
Johnny Rabb has performed with artists Maynard Ferguson, Alain Caron, Frank Gambale, Larry Tagg, Tanya Tucker, DJ Hype, Hank Williams III, SHeDAISY, Deana Carter, and Mindy McCready.
In 2006, Johnny Rabb and Clay Parnell formed BioDiesel, describing their intense electronic sound as "environmentally friendly Intelligent Dance Music".