Kenny Aronoff, not only a studio drummer but one of the most outstanding American drummers

Disclaimer: Links in the table below and some throughout the article could be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That's how we review products on Zero to Drum.

Kenny Aronoff was born on March 7, 1953, in Albany, NY. He is one of the most outstanding American drummers, having served as a sideman for many bands, both live and studio. His longest services were with John Mellencamp, from 1980 to 1996.

Kenny Aronoff
Kenny Aronoff

The drummer’s early life in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, was filled with inspirational moments that led him into the music industry.

Kenny Aronoff started studying music at a very early age and developed his focus on drums. He was always fascinated by musical instruments, but the drum becomes his favorite because they call for 100% emerging energy. But it was his natural talent, which earned him 3-letters playing lacrosse, ski team, and soccer, that brought out the best in him.

Aronoff attended Berkshire County Day before joining music school for one year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He then joined Indiana University School music and pursued a major in performing classical music. That was not all; he went ahead to spend a summer at the Aspen School of Music run by Juilliard School of music.

He also spent another summer at Tanglewood in the Fellowship program, which is today the Tanglewood Music Center. 

Kenny Aronoff Performing
Kenny Aronoff Performing

He graduated in 1976 and received a job offer from Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Quito Ecuador Symphony Orchestra, which he declined and moved to the East Coast to continue his studies from Alan Dawson.  He also learned from Gary Chester in NY, where he started to focus more on jazz and fusion music.

Aronoff decided to go back to his rock and roll roots that started in 1964, with a band of kids, the Alley Cats. Because of his knowledge and dedication, he was easily accommodated into the John Cougars group after winning the audition.

He joined the band, which elevated his career to Mellencamp, with which he recorded ten albums. It was also with this team that the drummer toured different places for more than 17 years. 

He used the opportunity to further develop his career, becoming one of the most influential studio musicians in the mid-80s. He worked on hundreds of records, just as he toured the world with a bunch of other musicians.

Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll – The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business

During the second hand of Richard Thomson’s 1988 tour, he filled in for Dave Mattacks, who had broken his rib. And in 1996, we recorded several songs with Bob Seger and then Mellisa Etheridge. He has continued to offer his support to the industry, having served as an inaugural member of the Independent Music Award’s 2001 first Annual IMMA judging panel.

Kenny Aronoff On Stage
Kenny Aronoff On Stage

He had a big role to play in supporting independent artists. In 2004, he was instrumental in recording Avril Lavigne’s hit single, “My Happy Ending,” and also worked on her 2007 CD, The Best Damn Thing. That is all; he worked with Michelle Branch on her records, The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper. And in 2014, he was part of Gregg Allman’s All My Friends Concerts.

Aronoff has always been known as a hard-bashing best drummer who never left anything to chance. He continues to be a great inspiration even today.

Photo of author


Andrea is a music lover and an experienced drummer with more than 15 years of drumming with different bands and music projects, such as Seditius and Hermano & the Marines.
Join Other 10.000 drummers

Subscribe To Our Monthly Newsletter

Get notified about new products, drumming tips and best drummers.