Vinnie Colaiuta, The Grammy-Awardee Drummer

Everyone knows that Grammy is such a prestigious award in the music industry. Whoever won the nomination will be acknowledged for their artistry. One of the musicians who got this award and did deserve it is Vinnie Colaiuta.

Vinnie Colaiuta is an American drummer who has numerous achievements and collaboration projects with many notable jazz musicians. His drumming performances are nothing short of extraordinary, making him a favorite among young drummers.

With the skill and recognition that he got, no wonder he was asked to be the session drummer of some great artists. He has worked with the likes of Sting, Frank Zappa, Chick Corea, and many more.

Vinnie Colaiuta biography

Vinnie Colaiuta
Vinnie Colaiuta

Vinnie Colaiuta, who has Vincent Peter Colaiuta as his full name, was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, US, on February 5, 1956. He has been drumming since he was a child and got his first full drum kit when he was seven.

With the little guidance given from the school band teacher, Vinnie Colaiuta was able to play drum like he was born to do it. His favorite drummer was Buddy Rich, but what made he’s now is the album Ego by Tony Williams. It changed his life and the way he sees music.

Vinnie was a student at Berklee College of Music. It was years when jazz fusion was popular, so he listened to and admired great jazz musicians like Alphonse Mouzon and Billy Cobham.

After finishing school, Vinnie decided to play local gigs in Boston.

Music career

Vinnie Colaiuta Drumming Performance

Vinnie Colaiuta started his music career by joining performances and music projects in Boston and California, such as a brief tour by Al Kooper, Christopher Morris’ album, and many more. In 1975, Vinnie moved to Los Angeles and started working with various studio musicians.

His first big break came when he was invited to join Frank Zappa’s tour of North America in 1978. Vinnie Colaiuta successfully auditioned to play drums for him. It led to him doing live performances with Zappa and appearing on the albums Joe’s Garage.

With Zappa, he was getting recognition from several critics and music magazines, including Modern Drummer who put Joe’s Garage as one of the top 25 drum performances of all time. However, he left Zappa’s touring team to become a studio musician in 1981. Some recordings that he has done are for pop singer Gino Vannelli and the band Pages.

In the mid-1980s, Vinnie Colaiuta did a tour again, and it was with Mitchell. Later that year, specifically in 1986, he became The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers‘s house drummer.

By the late-1980s, he was back in the studio again and was living a busy life as a studio musician. He was recording music and doing TV and film work during the day while playing clubs at night.

The English band Sting called Colaiuta and ask him to join their drummer audition. He accepted it and flew to England, which resulted in him being part of Sting’s touring band.

Other than playing drums for pop artists or bands, he also did some solo works. Colaiuta released his debut solo album entitled Vinnie Colaiuta in 1994.


Vinnie Colaiuta Drumming
Vinnie Colaiuta Drumming

Vinnie Colaiuta has worked with many drummers and artists. Thus, it’s reasonable if he has countless albums in his discography.

As part of sting’s touring lineup in the 1990s, he also did some recording with them. The albums where Colaiuta played are the albums Ten Summoner’s Tales (1993), Mercury Falling (1996), Brand New Day (1999), and Sacred Love (2003).

While as a session drummer, he played drums for numerous albums from various artists, including Joe’s Garage (1971) by Frank Zappa, Nightwalker (1981) by Gino Vannelli, and Tales from the Bulge (1990) by Michael Landau.

Even though he worked with many notable jazz musicians and artists in general, his work with Five Peace Band was the one that got him the Grammy Award. He won Best Jazz Instrumental Album nomination as Five Peace Bands’ drummer.

Movies starring Vinie Colaiuta

Vinnie Colaiuta Performing
Vinnie Colaiuta Performing

Fred Armisen: Standup For Drummers

Vinnie Colaiuta starred in a Netflix show, titled Fred Armisen: Standup For Drummers (2018). The show was about a stand-up performance by Fred Armisen, who is talking about drumming, music, and many more. In it, Colaiuta featured alongside some of the world’s most renowned drummers, including Tré Cool, Sheila E., and Clem Burke.

Randy Jackson: Mastering the Groove

Vinnie Colaiuta was also featured in Randy Jackson: Mastering the Groove (2008). In the documentary, Vinnie and other acclaimed drummers shared their views on the importance of mastering groove in order to become a successful drummer. This DVD includes the concert footage of Randy Jackson with his drummers Vinnie and Jonathan Moffett.

Most Frequently Ask Questions

What brand of drums does Vinnie Colaiuta play?

He’s been known to play a yellow Gretsch Custom drum kit during the 80s and 90s. With that drum, his famous sound has captivated audiences and critics alike.


Drumming is an art form that not many can master. It takes years of practice and dedication to be able to play with the skill and precision that Vinnie Colaiuta has now.

With the many projects he’s done with other musicians, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to put him on the list of the best drummers in the American music scene. Plus, his skills earned him the Grammy award he deserves.

What do you think?

Avatar Of Andrea

Written by Andrea

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.

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