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Kenny Aronoff (born March 7, 1953 in Albany, New York)[1][2] is an American drummer who has been the sideman for many bands both live and in the studio. He is most recognized as being the longtime drummer for John Mellencamp, with whom he worked from 1980 to 1996.[3] He is also known for his recorded drums and percussion with many recording artists.[4]


Aronoff grew up in Stockbridge, Massachusetts with his twin brother Jonathan, a clinical psychologist.[5] He developed an interest in music at an early age and gravitated to the drums as an instrument as "drumming was one hundred percent energy".[6] An athlete in high school, Aronoff was a natural, earning 3-letters playing lacrosse, ski team and soccer.[7]

After attending Berkshire Country Day,[5] Aronoff went to music school for one year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and spent four more years at the Indiana University School of Music (presently known as Jacobs School of Music) as a performance major in classical music as well as spending a summer at the Aspen School of Music run by Juilliard School of Music. He also spent one summer at Tanglewood in the Fellowship program (now Tanglewood Music Center), which at that time was managed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra where he worked with conductors Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Arthur Fiedler. While studying at Indiana University from 1972 to 1976 Aronoff studied under timpanist George Gaber. He also studied privately with Vic Firth and Arthur Press, both formerly with The Boston Symphony Orchestra.[8] After graduating in 1976 he was offered jobs with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Quito Ecuador Symphony Orchestra but decided to move to the East Coast to study in Boston with Alan Dawson,[9] a teacher from Berklee College of Music, and with Gary Chester in New York where he began to concentrate on jazz and fusion music.

During this time he decided to return to his rock and roll roots that started in 1964 with his very first childhood band, The Alley Cats.[5] In 1980 he won an audition with John Cougar and promptly joined the band which led to a career with Mellencamp recording 10 albums and touring with him over a 17-year period.[10] Scott Ross, Maven Management, secured Kenny on the drums for his first number one single (Belinda Carlisle, “Heaven on Earth”).

In the mid-1980s, Aronoff developed a successful career as a studio musician, playing on hundreds of records as well as touring worldwide with many artists.

He filled in for Dave Mattacks on the second half of Richard Thompson's 1988 tour (after Mattacks broke his rib). In 1996, Aronoff recorded with Bob Seger and then Melissa Etheridge. He has made records and toured with John Fogerty for 20 years.[10] In 1998, he played the thirty six date Smashing Pumpkins' An Evening with... tour. Aronoff started touring with Joe Cocker in 2000 and has been touring and recording records with BoDeans since 1988.

In 1990, Aronoff recorded on Jon Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" from the Western film Young Guns II, in 1993 on Meat Loaf's comeback record Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, and in 1994 on Cinderella's fourth album Still Climbing. He also recorded with Celine Dion on Let's Talk About Love that was released in 1997.

Aronoff was an inaugural member of the Independent Music Awards' 2001 1st Annual IMA judging panel to support independent artists.[11]

In 2005, Aronoff began touring with roots rock band The BoDeans. He performed on their two-CD live set, Homebrewed: Live From the Pabst.

Aronoff recorded on Avril Lavigne's 2004 hit single "My Happy Ending"[12] and her 2007 CD The Best Damn Thing.[13] featured on the track "Everything Back But You". He recorded both Michelle Branch records The Spirit Room[14] and Hotel Paper[15] and most recently on Brandon Flowers 2015 release The Desired Effect.[16][17]

In 2007 and 2008 Aronoff worked with John Fogerty, performing on his 2007 US and European tours and on his 2008 Australian tour. Aronoff is one of four rotating drummers in Daryl Hall's house band for his Live From Daryl's House webcast.[18][19]

On July 26, 2011, Aronoff reunited with members of Chickenfoot and toured with the band on the heels of their second album, temporarily filling in for Chad Smith who was unable to participate on the tour due to commitments with The Red Hot Chili Peppers.[20]

In 2014, Aronoff was part of the Gregg Allman All My Friends concert.

Aronoff has performed at the Kennedy Center Honors Ceremonies from 2008 to 2014 as well as two performances at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards with Ringo Starr and the Highway Men. He also performed a tribute to The Beatles sharing the stage with the two remaining Beatle members Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney in "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America".[10] During that same show, he also played drums for Stevie Wonder, David Grohl, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Joe Walsh, Keith Urban, John Mayer, Jeff Lynne, Pharrell Williams and Brad Paisley.[21]

In an interview, Aronoff told Starr, "You're the reason why I'm playing drums. You're the reason why I'm in a band. You're the reason why I decided to be a musician!"[10]

As of November 2017, Aronoff is drumming for Rock and Roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis.

Music industry and endorsements

He is the owner of Uncommon Studios L.A. located in Los Angeles.[22]

Aronoff's distinctive style has awarded him many endorsements and celebrity branding by several musical equipment companies including Tama Drums and hardware, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks, Evans Drumheads, Meinl Percussion, Yamaha DTX electronic drums, and Shure Microphones.[23]

Personal life

Aronoff lives in Studio City, Los Angeles California with his wife Georgina Anouska Aronoff.

List of recording credits

Aronoff's recording credits include:

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