Well, if there's one drummer we admire among all the legends still walking among us, it's probably Mike Portnoy, and we are excited to tell you some interesting facts about him:
1. He was born into a Jewish family on April 20, 1967, as Michael Stephen Portnoy and grew up in Long Island, Long Beach, New York.
2. Mike later moved with his father to the city of Carmel, California, following a job offer he received from the KRML radio station.
3. Portnoy's Father - Howard Portnoy was a DJ on a local radio station, so Portnoy was exposed to a great deal of music from his father's record collection, from an early age.
4. Among the bands he was influenced as a child were, "The Beatles", "Rush", "Led Zeppelin", "The Who", "Queen", "Iron Maiden" and more. Portnoy was also influenced much by Frank Zappa.
5. Portnoy's mother died in a plane crash in 1984. Portnoy wrote the masterpiece "A Change of Seasons" about her.
6. Although he took several theory lessons during his high school years, Portnoy actually taught himself to play the drums, through many hours of listening to and imitating the drummers he admired as a child, especially Neil Peart, the Rush drummer. In fact, Portnoy has repeatedly stated that Neil Peart was God for him.
7. During high school he started playing with local bands with some of them he even recorded albums.
8. For example, with a power metal band called "Rising Power", Mike recorded the album "Power for the People" in 1984. You can listen to the rare album here:
9. In 1986 he recorded with the band "S. A. Adams" the album "Unearthed", which a few years ago was even uploaded to Spotify, here:
10. He was also part of the thrash metal band "Inner Sanctum" with whom he released in 1986 the album "12 A.M.". You can also listen to this rare album here:
11. He left "Inner Sanctum" after winning a scholarship to study music at Berkeley, where he met guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung.
12. Shortly afterward the three formed the band "Majesty" and left college to pursue a musical career. They used to play covers of bands like "Rush" and "Iron Maiden".
(Photo: Ethan Miller)
13. To complete the lineup, Portnoy contacted his friend from high school, Kevin Moore, to play the keyboards. They recruited singer Chris Collins to the band after hearing him perform the song "Queen of the Reich" by the band "Queensrÿche".
14. The name Majesty was chosen by Portnoy for the band, under the influence of the song "Bastille Day" from the album "Caress Of Steel" by "Rush", the ending of which sounds to Portnoy Majestic !!
15. Under the name Majesty they recorded in the years 1986-1985 a demo album that originally included six songs, on Portnoy's 4-channel tape - the album is called "The Majesty Demos".
16. These demos were later released as a bootleg with bonus clips from other recordings called "The Berklee Demos" and included, among other things, a cover version of Rush's instrumental track "YYZ", in which Mike also plays keyboards. Those who are interested in listening to demos, can do so here:
November 17, 1986, Singer Chris Collins was fired from the band. After a frantic search, singer Charlie Dominici was selected to join the band.
18. Following a threat from a band from Las Vegas also called "Majesty", Portnoy and his friends changed the band's name to "Dream Theater".
19. The one who suggested the name of the band was Portnoy's father. "Dream Theater" was the name of a real movie theater where Portnoy used to watch cult movies as a child.
20. Along with Charlie and the confidence he brought with him, the band began to perform intensely and at the same time writing material for their first album.
21. The exposure brought with them by the intense performances bore fruit when on June 23, 1988, the band signed a record contract with a subsidiary of RCA.
22. The band released their first album "When Dream and Day Unite" in March 1989 and already on this album Portnoy was writing the music as well as some of the lyrics.
23. Following the release of the album "Dream Theater" made a limited number of performances during which they warmed up the Canadian trio "Zebra". After only 4 performances, the band decided to fire singer Charlie Dominici. They felt he was not delivering the goods and were looking for a singer whose voice resembles Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden or Geoff Tate from "Queensrÿche".
24. The search for a singer took a long time but finally came to an end in January 1991, after the band received a demo tape of James LaBrie, who was immediately invited to audition and was accepted into the band.
25. The band's big break came with the album "Images and Words" which was released in July 1992. In this album, Portnoy will start using triggers that trigger samples, expand his drum set with the addition of percussion, and also direct background vocals in the "hit" from the album "Pull Me Under ".
26. He wrote the song "The Mirror" from the 1994 album "Awake" about his alcohol addiction. He will return to this subject in a sequence of songs scattered across the band's next albums, starting with the album "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence". The sequence of songs was nicknamed the "Twelve-step Suite".
27. In 1996, Portnoy participated in six songs from the tribute album "Working Man - A Tribute to Rush".
28. While working on the 1997 album "Falling into Infinity", arguments arose between Portnoy and Petrucci who responded to the record company's pressure to work on more commercial and accessible material. The result was that all the lyrics of the songs that Portnoy wrote for the album dealt with his frustration and protest against the record company.
29. In 1997, Portnoy and Petrucci set up the side project "Liquid Tension Experiment", along with legendary bassist Tony Levin and keyboardist Jordan Rudess. With the band, Portnoy will release Three studio albums in 1998, 1999, and 2021, as well as another studio album without John Petrucci under the name "Liquid Trio Experiment" in 2006.
30. Portnoy and Petrucci's work with keyboardist Jordan Rhodes will lead them to replace keyboardist Derek Sherinian, before they started working on the band's masterpiece album "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory" from 1999. Beyond the substantial partnership in writing, playing On drums and percussion, and background vocals, Portnoy will be co-producing the album this time as well.
31. In 1999, Portnoy, along with Neal Morse of "Spock's Bird", Pete Trewavas of "Marillion" and Roine Stolt of "Flower Kings", formed the "Transatlantic" supergroup. Together with the supergroup, Portnoy will release 5 studio albums and a variety of performances, starting in 2000, when the latest album "The Absolute Universe" released in 2021.
32. As part of the 2002 album "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence", Portnoy began to take the lead in singing some of the songs, along with James LaBrie, such as "The Glass Prison" and "War Inside My Head". The album also features Portnoy's father playing the gong.
33. This album was the first to begin that will continue in subsequent albums, to start the album with sounds that ended the previous album. This tradition was Portnoy's idea. He conceived it after hearing the end of Van Halen's "Women and Children First" album.
34. In The song "Honor Thy Father" from the album "Train of Thought" from 2003 Portnoy wrote about his stepfather. Portnoy also shot a documentary that accompanies the album's writing process called "Making Train of Thought". Portnoy will also be responsible for filming the band at various locations in the coming years which he will release through a production company as a side project.
35. In the same year, Portnoy will participate in the debut album "Office of Strategic Influence", by the progressive band OSI. Portnoy will continue to collaborate with the band on their second album from 2006.
36. In 2003, Portnoy will begin a long-standing partnership in various projects with multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse, a member of the "Transatlantic" supergroup. It will start with the solo album "Testimony", and will continue with various Morse solo ensembles.
37. During 2005 and in parallel with the release of Dream's eighth album - "Octavarium", Portnoy took part in the G3 guitar performances with which he recorded part of the "G3: Live in Tokyo live" album.
38. That same year he joined the Beatles' tribute band - "Yellow Matter Custard" and released the album "One Night in New York City".
39. Portnoy played with other cover bands such as "Hammer of the Gods" - the tribute band to Led Zeppelin with whom he released in 2006 the album "Two Nights in North America" and the tribute band "Cygnus and the Sea Monsters" to the band Rush, with whom he released the album "One Night in Chicago". Guitarist Paul Gilbert, known from "Mr. Big" is a partner in these two ensembles.
40. Another cover composition in which Portnoy took part in parallel with the album "Systematic Chaos" released by Dream Theater in 2007, was Amazing Journey which played cover versions of songs by The Who. Portnoy released with them the album "One Night in New York City" and here too guitarist Paul Gilbert will play with them.
41. Portnoy's latest album with "Dream Theater" was "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" from 2009. During the tour that accompanied the album, we were privileged to see him here in Israel with the band.
42. After the tour, Portnoy asked his friends to take a break from the intense work with the band. He felt that the circle of the album, tour, album, and repeat God forbid played it and wanted to devote himself to other and less intense music pursuits.
43. At that time he was invited to join as a replacement for drummer James "The Rev" Sullivan of the band "Avenged Sevenfold", who passed away in December 2009. Portnoy even recorded the album "Nightmare" which was released in 2010 and went on tour with "Avenged Sevenfold" to promote the album.
44. During this time Portnoy announced that after 25 years with the band he was leaving Dream Theater.
45. After four months of intense searching in which the band conducted a series of auditions for drums, drummer Mike Mangini was chosen.
46. When Mike Portnoy ended his affair with "A7X" he asked to return to Dream Theater but by then it was already too late. Dream Theater's attorneys have announced that they are already binned to the new drummer and the request of Portnoy was denied.
47. Portnoy is involved in huge projects and bands like: "Flying Colors", "The Winery Dogs", "Metal Allegiance", "Shattered Fortress", "BPMD", and "Adrenaline Mob", "PSMS", "Sons Of Apollo" and more.
48. In addition, Portnoy collaborated with a lot of artists and among others replaced AJ Pero - drummer of "Twisted Sister" after he passed away, played on albums by Paul Gilbert, Bigelf, and more.
49. During a performance with "Dream Theater" in Munich in 1997, he severely dislocated his wrist. It was during the last song of the set and Mike suffered from severe pain, but thought that if Rick Allen from Def Leppard could do it then so could he, and continued to play with one hand until the end of the song without missing a note at the complex drumming sections.
50. He is an avid collector of rare items and the memorabilia of "Dream Theater", and holds the band's rarest items.
51. He has released a series of videos in which he explains and demonstrates his drumming technique from different angles.
52. Mike's son - Max, followed. He is the drummer of the band Next to None, which warmed up his father in performances of "Adrenaline Mob" and now he plays in the band "Tallah".
53. Portnoy has won countless awards during his career. We are not able to list them all, but it should be noted that among the awards, he was chosen best drummer 11 times in a row by "Modern Drummer" magazine.
54. Portnoy is a rare talent who can play any song you ask for even on a "Hello Kitty" drum set.