Brian Downey

Brian Downey (also known as Brian Michael Downey) is an Irish drummer, born in Dublin and raised in Crumlin, Ireland. His birthday is January 27th, 1951.

Downey is best known for his work in Thin Lizzy, a British hard rock band he has performed with on and off since the late 1960s. He has been cited as one of rock music’s most underrated drummers.

Bands

Brian Downey played in a number of local bands while in high school, including The Liffey Beats and Sugar Shack. He would meet Phil Lynott in one of these bands, called The Black Eagles.

Downey and Lynott would later team up with a guitarist named Eric Bell to form the hard rock band Thin Lizzy in 1969. The band’s lineup notably changed several times over the years; Lynott and Downey were the only founding members consistently involved in Thin Lizzy until its first breakup in 1983. Downey also contributed backup vocals and some songwriting to the original Thin Lizzy.

Following the band’s breakup, Brian Downey continued to work with Phil Lynott until Lynott’s 1986 death. The pair toured briefly under the name The Three Musketeers with fellow former Thin Lizzy member, guitarist John Sykes. Downey also played drums on both of Lynott’s solo albums.

Thin Lizzy reunited for a Phil Lynott tribute song in 1990, and began performing together again in 1991. Brian Downey left the reunion lineup in 1997, but signed back on in 2010. He and the reunited Thin Lizzy are expected to tour throughout 2011.

Influences

Brian Downey’s earliest musical influence was his father, who played in a local pipe band while Brian was a child. Growing up in the early 1960s, he also cites British Invasion bands as his biggest influences, including The Beatles’ Ringo Starr, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones. Downey has also cited swing and jazz music among his musical influences.

Equipment

Downey’s first drum set was made by vintage cult brand Olympic. Downey had the Red Sparkle model, with 18, 12, and 16 inch drums, a wood snare, and Zyn crash and ride cymbals. Downey is also noted as being one of the first rock drummers to use Rogers drums, another cult drum brand.

Throughout his career, he has also played Premier, Gretsch and Tama drums, and once turned down an endorsement for Paiste cymbals because he preferred the Zildjian cymbals he was using on his kit at the time.

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Mars Volta Drummer Jon Theodore

Jon Theodore is an American drummer, born and raised in Baltimore, MD.  His birthday is December 1st, 1973.

Theodore started drumming in his high school’s concert band at the age of 15, before moving on to lessons on a drum set.  He listened to a wide range of music in his teens, much of which he cites among his biggest influences.  By the time he began studying at Oberlin College’s Oberlin Conservatory of Music, he had already devoted himself to drumming.  He’d studied percussion extensively by this time, learned to map drum arrangements and joined his first band.

Bands

Theodore joined Golden towards the end of high school, who he would record and tour with for a decade.  This band also included Ian Eagleson, Alex Minoff (of Six Finger Satellite and The Make-Up) and Philip Manley (of The Fucking Champs and Trans Am).  Golden is considered something of a side project for its members, and the band hasn’t released an album since 2002’s Apollo Stars.

He also played with alt-rock band Royal Trux for a little over a year, which led to Theodore meeting former At the Drive-In members Omar Rodríguez-López  and Cedric Bixler Zavala.  He would later team up with this pair to join prog-rock band The Mars Volta in 2001.  This is Theodore’s best-known work, where he contributed to albums like De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute.  He left the band in 2006, saying, “The life ran out of it.”

He has gone on to work with former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha and The Locust’s Joey Karam in One Day as a Lion.  This band released an album in 2008 and made their first live appearances in the summer of 2010.

Jon Theodore has also worked with several other bands during his career, including Utada, Will Oldham, and HiM (not to be confused with the Finnish band).

Influences

Theodore cites rock, jazz and fusion music as his biggest influences, but enjoys and is inspired by many other styles as well.  He has cited several drummers who have had an inspirational impact on his work, including:

Billy Cobham
Herbie Hancock
John Bonham
Elvin Jones
Keith Moon

Equipment

Jon Theodore uses a Ludwig Stainless Steel drum kit, featuring a 14×10 tom, 16×16 and 18×16 floor toms and a 24×14 bass drum.  His snare drum is also a Ludwig, a LM402T with custom die cast hoops.

Theodore has an endorsement contract with Zildjian cymbals, which he uses in his kit.  Among the Zildjian cymbals in his setup are a pair of 19” medium thin crash cymbals (K, Avedis or A Custom lines), a 21” Avedis Sweet Ride with 4 sizzle cymbals and 13” combo hats.

He also has an endorsement deal with Vic Firth drum sticks, and uses their American Classic Extreme 5Bs with wood tips.

He uses Remo drum heads (Ambassador and CS black dots).  Theodore also uses DW cymbal stands (and a DW 7000 hi-hat stand), and a Pearl Eliminator single kick pedal.  As a barefoot drummer, Theodore uses surf wax on his pedal.

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