Kenny Aronoff Temporarily Joins Styx as Drummer
He may not be a household name, but for anyone who spends time reading liner notes, Kenny Aronoff is a legend — a prolific session drummer who’s manned the kit for everyone from John Mellencamp to the Smashing Pumpkins. Recently, Aronoff’s busy schedule has included the all-star Beatles tribute concert as well as a brief series of gigs with Styx.
Aronoff stepped up for Styx after the band’s full-time drummer, Todd Sucherman, bowed out to spend time with his wife Taylor as they celebrated the birth of their new daughter. It was a planned handoff, in other words — but as happens so often, the newest Sucherman didn’t arrive on schedule.
“The day after the Beatles filming, I went to New York and did three shows with [John] Fogerty, one of which was for the Howard Stern birthday bash. I come back on a Saturday night, Sunday’s my day off to watch the Super Bowl and I get everything organized so that starting Monday, I can go right into work. The main concern was to start getting ready for the Styx shows, which were about two and a half weeks out,” Aronoff told Ultimate Classic Rock.
“I wake up that morning and I’ve got a message to ‘call me immediately’ and that was the manager from Styx. He says ‘Kenny, it looks like Todd’s wife’s baby is coming sooner than expected. So basically, are you available in three days? Can you put the show together in three days?’ I went ‘Wow,’” recalled Aronoff. “So my first thing was ‘Of course I can!’ And then, the reality that you’re not replacing a drummer who plays meat and potatoes [stuff] like AC/DC — Todd’s drum parts and Styx’s music is extremely complex with tempo changes and time signatures and all kinds of very detailed specific things to work out.”
Despite all the last-minute legwork, Aronoff tells us his time with Styx was nothing but fun. “Oh, I love it. They’re great musicians. Oh my God,” he enthused. “They’re the finest musicians around. I mean, three lead singers, you’ve got three soloists, J.Y. [Young], Tommy [Shaw] and Lawrence [Gowan]. You’ve got three strong singers — it’s unbelievable. They’re as good as it gets — superb musicians. Being in a band, they really value that they get to play music and tour and make records and do what they do. They appreciate it very much. They don’t take it for granted. They’re a class act.”
“Kenny Aronoff has done an amazing job filling in for Todd who is home in Texas with Taylor and their new born daughter Teagan,” wrote Tommy Shaw on his Facebook page. “We all enjoyed watching Kenny masterfully man the drums for numerous performances last night on the Beatles tribute concert on CBS. Tonight is his last night with us and we can’t thank him enough for being so flexible as we did our best to estimate when Teagan would decide it was time to be born! Cheers Kenny!!!”
For Aronoff, it’s all part of embracing the versatility that makes him one of the most in-demand drummers in rock. “I look at these experiences as really, really valuable,” he told UCR. “To play Styx music makes me a better musician. To play the Beatles stuff makes me a better musician. To do the Santana segment on Kennedy Center Honors, totally different, I mean, there’s a whole Latin feel. I try to adapt — I’m still Kenny Aronoff, but I definitely adapt to trying to be the right drummer for that situation and in the end it makes me a much more well-rounded musician that happens to play drums.”