Sex, Drums, Rock 'n' Roll: The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business

By Kenny Aronoff - Book Review + Exclusive Video Interview

One of the many pearls of wisdom from drummer Kenny Aronoff’s memoir Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business is when the author and drummer extraordinaire says, “It helps to get lucky, but you can make a lot of luck by kicking ass and not being an ass.”

By all accounts, as much from his frank and fun memoir — as from the likes of John Mellancamp, Billy Corgan, Jon Bon Jovi, Michael Anthony and many more who offer up insights about the musician as well as the man — Aronoff has built his life and career by pretty much “kicking ass” while being the consummate professional.

He’s the follicly challenged dude you saw sitting behind Mellencamp’s band for years — and playing that iconic drum break in “Jack & Diane.” He’s presently manning the skins for John Fogerty, and is the same guy who has toured with the Smashing Pumpkins, recorded and toured with Melissa Etheridge, and played countless Farm Aids, Kennedy Honors broadcasts and Grammy Awards telecasts.

You could say he brought Brian Wilson some enthusiasm, but he’s also backed such country notables as Hank Williams, Jr., Willie Nelson and The Highway Men. Having played on over 300 million records sold, Kenny Aronoff is a force to be reckoned with.

We get it all in Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business. There’s his wonderful childhood where he grew up in Massachusetts, practicing and creating bands with his twin brother after seeing the Beatles for the first time on Ed Sullivan. He would later try out for summer drum orchestra positions, attend college for orchestra percussion in Indiana where he met John Mellencamp. From there, he became part of a band that changed his life.

The Mellancamp years are rich and full of music business mechanizations that only one who had been there could understand. Even during his time with Mellencamp, Aronoff, with his boundless energy and growing chops, began flying around the country to record with other artists and giving drum clinics. When the time came to leave John Mellencamp (something both Mellencamp and Aronoff comment on in the book), Aronoff was already a highly sought-after session player and teacher.

Halfway through the book, Aronoff talks about building his brand and reputation even wilder and wider. Along the way, he details his encounters with various characters (many of them famous) he met, played with and grew to befriend. Through it all, we get learn how the man’s ambitions ran through marriages and ex-wives, and how he’s come to terms with it all.

Toward the end of the book, 50 years after seeing the Beatles on that “night that changed the world” Aronoff tells the amazing story of playing with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. His enthusiasm over this story alone ignites the pages!

Whether you are a drummer, a fan of rock and roll, or just want to get off on this guy’s inspiring energy and spirit, Kenny Aronoff’s Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business is a fantastic read about a kick-ass life.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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