Today is Virgil Donati's 60th birthday.
He is the pinnacle of modern drumming and has relentlessly pushed the boundaries of drumming for more than 57 years.
I met Virgil in Copenhagen back in 1996 and from what was initially a fan/idol relationship, we formed a friendship that lives on.
I quickly became a moderator on his (then newly established) website forum, and later an editor and community manager. We grew the forum from 75 people to around 100.000 active, dedicated fans, before social media came along, and I continued my work on his various social profiles, as well as taking over for my friend Chris as Virgil's webmaster. We now entertain 170K+ fans.
It is a joy to work with an artist of his caliber, and his dedication to be better at what he does is contagious and inspiring.
Although he compares to no-one, I think Bryan Beller hit the nail on the head when he described Virgil after playing with him on an improv show with Mike Kenneally:
“Imagine the technical accuracy of Mike Mangini, the off-the-rails phrasing of Vinnie Colaiuta, the beat-displacement of Dave Weckl, and the rock sensibility of Tommy Aldridge, and that's pretty much Virgil Donati—all of it, all at once, all the time"
Speaking of Weckl and Vinnie, I reached out to a few of the world's greatest drummers and asked them if they'd like to join me in wishing Virgil a happy birthday.
Here it is. A short compilation of birthday greetings to Virgil from a handful of some of the other great drummers on this planet.
Happy Birthday, Virgil!