DVD Review: Terry Bozzio’s Melodic Drumming

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I promise this will be my last “drummer geek” posting at least until I get back to the type of news I usually post here. Terry Bozzio, who has played with classic rock greats like Frank Zappa, certainly qualifies as a classic rocker as well as one of my all-time favorite drummers. If you tell just about any drummer that someone played drums for Frank Zappa, they’ll know you’re talking about an real stand-out player.

Bozzio first came to my attention back in the “glory days” of MTV when they actually played music videos. In fact, music videos where the only thing on MTV back in the early 80’s when they first came on the air. Bozzio was playing in a group called Missing Persons with his then-wife Dale who was the lead vocalist. Their single “Words” was played on a pretty regular basis during that period.

Although Bozzio certainly struck me as a solid and very competent drummer at the time, I did not follow his career or hear a whole lot about him until much later. I was unaware that he had played with Frank Zappa and replaced another great drummer, Bill Bruford, as a member of the progressive rock group UK whom he recorded two albums with.

I’ve since seen footage of Bozzio playing with both Frank Zappa and his Zappa’s son Dweezil. It was then that I realized what a phenomenal drummer Terry Bozzio is.

I hate to ruin it for everyone else, but this set of three DVD’s is not for entertainment purposes. This is drum geek stuff through and through. If things like rudiments, flams, paradiddles and polyrhythms turn you on, this is one DVD set you’ll want to check out. This guy is on serious percussionist and he actually explains things in a manner that is easy to understand even for drummers like me who simply play for fun and don’t get too hung up on technical stuff.

Although the DVD release is new, the material was originally recorded for VHS between 1990 and 1995. Even so, the material he covers is as relevant today as it was when it was back then. The guy played with Zappa! I think that says it all.

There’s plenty of demo footage were Bozzio shows exactly what he’s talking about, and as I pointed out before, he came across to me as a great teacher since I was actually able to understand a lot of what he was talking about, and I’m one who has always struggled with the technical aspects of drumming.

These DVDs are chock-full of great material for drummers who want to venture a bit into the realm of great drummers like Neil Peart, Vinnie Colaiuta and of course, Terry Bozzio. Topics included as part of this instructional set include:

Approach to the Modern Large Drum Kit
Improvising Within a Concept
Basic Approach to Ostinatos
Melodic Tom Patterns
Asymmetrical Hand/Foot Double Bass Patterns
Flam/Top Cymbal Combinations
Rudiments From Hell (Sounds like fun, eh?)
Two Part Contrapuntal Tom Melodies
Linear Funk
Hand/Foot Overlaps

Like I said, drum geek stuff, but very cool if you are that type of drum geek.

Total content is 254 minutes (over four hours!), so this stuff could keep someone busy for quite a while.

I hate to beat a dead horse here, but I’ll do it anyway. The best thing about this set for me was Bozzio’s teaching style. Although I don’t think I will personally spend a lot of time trying to master this stuff, it might be fun to play around with some of the ideas he presents whenever I manage to get myself set up with a kit and a place to play it some day.

For the serious student, I’d have to say this DVD set is a worthwhile investment. If you really want to learn advanced drumming concepts, there sure would be worse places to start than with Terry Bozzio. Say it with me: He played with Frank Zappa!


  1. Dan March 14, 2011 at 11:55 am

    You need to update this site more. Alot is happening in Rock!

    • Real Rock News March 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      No argument with that! So damn busy lately, it’s been a real challenge, but I’m hoping to get back on track soon! Thanks!

  2. Dan March 15, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Glad your busy, keep up the good work. I like your site!

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