“ He can break your heart with one cymbal crash.”
Bobby Previte’s first stage appearance came in 1956 at the Niagara Falls Talent Show, where, guitar in hand, and adorned in an over-sized suit, he belted out a solo rendition of Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound Dog.’
Eight years later, thinking drumming might be a good way to get girls, he fashioned a bass drum from a rusted garbage can, a kick pedal from a wire coat hanger wedged between two pieces of linoleum and a rubber ball stuck on top, tom toms from upside-down trash bins, cymbals from aluminum pie plates suspended on plungers, and a box of loose junk for a snare – then practiced for a year in his dark basement with a lone spotlight shining on him before eventually starting a band, the “Devil’s Disciples.” But when they finally got a job at the church he was fired for not having ‘real’ drums. Seeking revenge, he took a job as a paperboy, saved every penny, and a year later bought the drum kit he still uses today in concerts all over the world.
Strolling in the East Village one bright afternoon, he peered inside a limo stuck in traffic (crosstown) and suddenly found himself face to face with Jimi Hendrix. Thinking fast, he unfurled the poster of Jimi he had fortunately just acquired, then looked on in astonishment as Hendrix smiled and flashed him the peace sign.
All the rest, as they say, is noise.
HISTORY: BA, SUNY Buffalo. Moved to New York City in 1979. Has worked for/with an unlikely array of leading lights including John Adams, Terry Adams, Robert Altman, Johnny Copeland, Lejaren Hiller, Charlie Hunter, Lenny Kaye, John Lurie, Sonny Sharrock, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Tom Waits, Victoria Williams, and, the internet swears Iggy Pop, although he can’t seem to remember that, exactly.
AWARDS: The Greenfield Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, NEA, NYSCA, NYFA, Franklin Furnace, The American Music Center, MCAF, Mid Atlantic Arts, NY State Music Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Jerome Foundation.
EVENTS: TERMINALS PART 1, WNYC New Sounds Live/Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall, 2011, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, 2011, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, 2013-2014; DIORAMA, Groundswell/Wave Farm/Olana State Historic Site, 2013; Franklin Furnace/Chashama, 2012, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, 2010; THE 23 CONSTELLATIONS OF JOAN MIRÓ, Winter Garden, New York, 2008; THE SEPARATION, Walker Art Center, 2007; DIALED IN (with Benton-C Bainbridge), Lincoln Center, EMPAC, Eyebeam, 2007; Touring various other bands and projects since 1985 at festivals and clubs worldwide.
RECORDINGS: Sony, Nonesuch, Palmetto, Gramavision, Enja, Thirsty Ear, New World, Ropeadope, Veal, Spacebone, Rare Noise.
MASTER CLASSES: Eastman School of Music, Walker Art Center, Art and Music Omi, Merano Jazz Festival and Academy, So Percussion Summer Institute/Princeton University, Cornish University, Purchase College, Bard College, The New School.
RESIDENCIES: The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Civitella Ranieri, Montalvo Art Center, eleven MacDowell Colony fellowships.
THEATER/DANCE/PERFORMANCE/ART: The Moscow Circus on Broadway, Theodora Skipitares, Andrea Kleine, Clarinda Mac Low, Aynsley Vandenbroucke, Benton-c Bainbridge, e-team.
FILM SCORES: Chain Letters (dir. Mark Rappoport), Maze (dir. Rob Morrow).
ODDITIES: actor, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, “The Mute Marine,” w/ William Shatner, 1984; as “The Drummer” in SHORT CUTS – Robert Altman, 1993.
Bobby Previte plays Paiste cymbals, Evans heads on DW drums, with Regal Tip sticks.