Joanne Ruocco – Drummer and Percussionist

I was 16 years old when I began as a drummer for Chuck Berry, his gigs were in New York City and across New Jersey. My parents felt that it would be too much of an adventure to venture off on the road with him, I was still finishing high school – but he didn’t see things like this!

Chuck spent time in prison in late 1970s. He wrote to me, and shared very sincere advice about his mistakes to make sure I don’t repeat them myself–especially when it comes down (and this should go without saying) having a good honest accountant who will keep track on your money for you so nothing is lost in translation or left off due neglect!

The way he spoke made me feel like anything was possible if only because there are people out there who are friends, Chuck being one such soulmate. Every letter  he wrote encouraged me to pursue my passion for music, and drumming, even though he was struggling, while serving time.

I started drumming at the age four! Later, played along to all sorts of music, anything that had a beat, be it Gene Krupa Sing, Sing, Sing, Take the A Train, Duke Ellington, Motown, Rolling Stones Charlie Watts, Jimi Hendrix’s Mitch Mitchell.  I was hugely impressed by John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and Giovanni Hidalgo.

As a teenager – I began studying at Fairleigh Dickenson University (not my first choice but thats a whole other story) and privately with Joe Morello, Peter Erskine, and Glenn Weber of the New Jersey school of Drums, and Percussion in Southwest Orange New Jersey.

That’s when I developed into the world of Afro-Latin Cuban-Folkloric rhythms, and tympani orchestrated styles.  Then age 16 with Chuck Berry, and doing recording sessions on the Drum Chair for major advertising jingles house, ‘David Lucas’ NYC.

Age 24, I headed off to London to hit the UK Indie Pop and Rock world. Of course, that’s when I starting working with Paul Weller and the Style Council. Paul and his band, wow, that really shaped my world back then.  Those amazing London years will be explored in my memoir, a work in progress. I am planning a year to finish writing it, during most of 23.

Joanne Ruocco - Drummer and Percussionist Little Jo, Paul Weller, and Mick Talbot of Style Council in 80s London

That book will be very interesting to fans of the 80s, 90s pop/rock scene because I have many stories to share about working with so many gifted musicians, songwriters, and vocalists here in England.

Also, my time with Bobby Womack, Billy Ocean, Kylie Minogue, Ron Wood and many more.

I am very grateful I’ve been able to work with and share music with such prestigious artists.

What am I doing now?

Freelancing working as a drummer. In 2021 I worked on and completed an Indie Album, Blue Svengalis, with composer Shak Cohen, recorded at Luke Oldfield’s studios in West London.

And I’m having a blast performing the comedy voice part for ‘Dolly’ in Lizzie Snoopes Breakout!

The podcast is a lighthearted parody of Lockdown, Covid and world politics written and produced by Ali F Wickham.

In the show, I am the voice of Dolly – girlfriend of ‘fixer’ Reggie Fishteen, both of them are all-out rakes! Plus being the show’s ‘wordy-turdy’ monitor, making sure we don’t use too much fancy pantsy words in the text!! Keeping it funny, keeping it real!

We have some great comedy voice actors on the show from the UK and USA. Really nice mix. Ali loves my song – PLASTIC FACES, a post-punk / art rock song that I composed in New York back in the 80’s, so we put it as an intro to the show. So – keeping busy , and out of mischief, for now!

 

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