When the music is great, and the artists at play are the tops in their field, Denny Seiwell is there! In a career that has traveled from the intimacy of New York’s most respected Jazz Clubs, to Rock’s biggest stadiums, to countless sessions in the studio, Denny has proven himself one of the most respected musicians at work today.

Denny is better known for his work with Paul McCartney and many of the classic Rock tracks of the time such as denny_paul_400“My Love” and “Live and Let Die”, but his first days in the studio were Jazz recordings with  artists like JJ Johnson & Kai Winding, Astrud Gilberto, Gary Mac Farland, Eumir Deodato. Paul McCartney came to New York looking for session players to record his RAM album. Denny was his choice as drummer for the project,  and Denny’s Jazz career was put on hold. “Recording with  a Beatle will damage your Jazz Career” Denny says with a hint of laughter in the delivery.

Denny’s signature drumming can be heard on records with artists such as John Denver, James Brown,  Billy Joel’s “Cold Spring Harbor,”  Janis Joplin’s posthumus “Farewell Song” album, Art Garfunkel, Joe Cocker, and Donovan. Denny also performed in the Who’s “Tommy” opera – live in London with the London Symphony featuring Roger Daltry, Keith Moon and Peter Sellers.  A consummate musician, Denny also studied the craft of production, having worked  alongside master producers such as Paul McCartney, George Martin, Phil Ramone,  Andrew Oldham, Richard Perry and Leon Russell.

Denny’s drumming can also be heard on over 100 CDs, countless TV & Radio commercials,  Film scores and TV shows.  Denny’s passion for music, his human spirit, his training and abilities have earned him the reputation as one of the industries’ most respected drummers.

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Comments 250

    1. Rhinosaurus_Rex

      Also, what affected your decision to turn your hand to (what seems like) improv jazz/blues stuff with the Trio after playing with rockers like Mccartney?

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        Denny

        I was a jazz player before meeting McCartney. In fact I went from playing with guys like Al Cohn and Zoot Sims at the Half Note Jazz club in NYC to the studio, to Paul and the Ram album. Jazz was always my first love, but as time went by and more rock came my way, I became more interested in playing it, as well as more studio dates called for rock . Now that I am less active in the studio and touring, I decided to get back to some Jazz. My trio is a magical thing for me, and hope to have another CD to release this year….

        1. Rhinosaurus_Rex

          That’s interesting to know. So you knew of people like Miles Davis and the Crusaders and Grover Washington Jr (also jazz on Motown which was the best…). Everybody thinks of Motown as Holland/Dozier/Holland and “Baby love” but there’s so much more to it!

          How do you interact in the trio, is there a specific way?

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            Denny

            yes miles , coltrane, wynton kelly.bill evans and so many more were my jazz influences. the trio is an organ trio with guitar, org, and drums…we play arrangements from the classic jazz standars as well as some mccartney penned tunes….if you go to youtube and type in dennyseiwell trio live at vitellos, you can see clips of the trio performing

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      Denny

      I come from a jazz background, so guys like Elvin Jones and Mel Lewis were my main drummer influences. I of course was influenced my Ringo, Bonham, and Jeff Porcaro who was a big influence too….also I listened a lot to the motown and r&b drummers of the time.

  1. Anthony

    Denny, as a drummer who grew up/ started playing in the 1990s I was wondering if you could offer some insight into the quality of drum equipment in the 60s/70s compared to now? Of course the equipment is more heavy duty etc. but, given a choice, would you rather play a kit made during your days of recording with Paul or something brand new out of a drum manufacturer’s custom shop?

    Thanks!

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      Denny

      Today’s equipment is far better in s one regards….ie: hardware, choice of heads, some new types of cymbals , and a myriad of new custom snare drums, however my old Gretschs are still my favorite drums to play when recording . I signed with DW drums in recent years, and think they are making incredible drums . I also have a Ringo…Ludwig kit that I enjoy playing very much….they also have a unique sound. You just can’t beat some of the older 60’s vintage kits, that have many flaws in manufacturing, but a distinct sound, that makes playing them a blast….that is when you find a good one….todays drums have better quality control, but I love the old stuff for the sound they get. I am glad to see that hardware co’s are making lightweight flat bottom stands again , that were popular back in the 60’s.

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      Denny

      touring is so much different from the creative process in the studio. on tour you have a job to do performing the song that ‘s already been created…whereas the studio provides the opportunity to create parts to the song that will be memorable to the music and establish your style as a drummer…this to me is far more rewarding…
      touring these days is demanding…they pay you more to travel than to play…it’s so difficult crossing time zones, boarding planes , riding in vans, doing sound checks, hangin’ out backstage waiting for the show to start, and the back to hotel for a little sleep before an early wake up call to do it again the next day….it isn’t as glamorous as it looks. eating healthy, getting your rest , staying fit to do the gig each nite is difficult in the touring situation and today is considered “Business”, as in the past touring might have been one big party until everyone ran out of steam…in today’s world, record sales are not what they used to be, so many artists make their income touring…you mess up and they can’t depend on you being in top shape to do your job.
      When I get called on to record, I’ve had a good nite’s sleep in my own home, drove to studio in my own car, and show up ready to do whatever is required of me to make a song come to life ….I love both, but man it’s a lot easier to stay home, but when on stage and the crowd is cheering…it is a feeling that all musicians live for!

  2. Jostein

    Hi, this site is a really cool initiative!

    Given you extensive experience as a working drummer, what are the most common mistakes you see other drummers and musicians make (not technique, but everything else like musicality, sociability, financial stuff, whatever). Also, what are the most useful concepts/ideas you’ve discovered; stuff that you’ve stumbled on to and have used ever since? Again, not restricted to anything inn particular, maybe just to drumming (setup, playing, listening).

    Thanks a lot!

    Best regards,

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      Denny

      Great question….I see many drummers that bring their style to the stage rather than remembering that they are the backbone of the band, and sometimes get confused about their role….in recording the drummer has to understand what the SONG needs, not what drum part might make him look better as a player….that fine line is the difference between the real pros and the amateur. another flaw of some drummers is learning LICKs from popular drummers and using them when it seems to fit. A true drummer listens to the song carefully , and when done the song really dictates what the drum part should be. It takes time to develop this skill which comes from becoming open to the creative factor when writing and performing . the idea of creating your own style is the thing that makes the greats. there are many many good drummers out there in this business, but longevity depends upon providing the ultimate service to the musical situation you are working with at the time.

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      Denny

      Davey is not resigned from Musinq, and will resume taking questions….he took a holiday break to spend time with family. He is now accepting questions while we are making some updates to our site, and soon will be offering memberships that will allow fans access to many more features that we are adding…..log in and stay tuned

  3. Tommy

    It is a priviledge, Denny…When you record with the songwriter (Paul McCartney for example) do they always instruct you on how to play the song, such as beat, tempo, etc.; or are the percussion parts totally yours. Thank you

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      Denny

      No usually songwriters hire you for their recordings because they understand how you conceive parts for tunes.
      Once in a while a writer will have a specific idea as to how they want the drum part to be, but for the most part they hire you to have your take on their music…It varies, b ut with Paul…he gave me full reign as to what I played, except for several tunes , such as Uncle Albert…his direction was for me to create and “UNDRUM”like part,
      not a usual beat that is on many recordings….the drums are the heartbeat, so time and feel are most important with most records, but with Paul the creative aspect was so much fun and quite a challenge….thanks for the question

  4. Darrin Henry

    Denny,

    What do you consider some of your best work as a drummer ? I hear about you all of the time from John Marsh who played with you in the late 70’s. I play in a band currently with John and he speaks very highly of you and I would like to listen to what you consider being some of your best work. Thank you.

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      Denny

      some of my best work was the Ram album with Paul McCartney, but i was also privileged to record with many artists over the years, that were awesome. James Brown was a lot of fun, AStrud Gilberto a fav of mine,John and I worked with an artist by the name of Bill Quateman in chicago. That was a nice experience as well. John is a terrfic musician…thanks for your question and happy new year

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  5. Evan J Rodgers

    What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of performing music while high on marijuana?? It is no secret that alot of musicians were smoking pot and performing in the 70’s. I am not trying to encourage anything, I am just curious. I have heard that while it can enhance creative imagination, it can also throw off a musicians timing. Any thoughts or insight you have on this subject would be appreciated. Thanks.

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      Denny

      There are NO real advantages….I did smoke pot on many occasions, but looking back…it was more a waste of time and money than anything else. You get a few good ideas, but none seem to get done.

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  6. Bill Slocum

    As a jazz drummer in your pre-Wings days, what’s your take on the rise in the 1970s of jazz fusion? Was it a mere flash-in-the-pan, or is it something that deserves credit for being a worthy meeting of great genres? Are there any jazz-fusion acts you think highly of (e. g. Stanley Clarke, Weather Report, Utopia, Return To Forever)?

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  7. Edward Eikelenboom

    Hi Denny, all the albums are re-released as the McCartney Archives. Have you been approached by MPL yet to contribute to the upcoming Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway albums?

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      Denny

      I played shakers of al
      l kinds, congas, bongos, tuned cowbells, maybe triangles, bell tree….the usual suspects but nothing very exotic…..other overdubs were things like drumming on th manhattan phone book on “another Day”

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  8. Edward Eikelenboom

    Hi Denny, hope to talk to you soon. One question: of course you played drums on the RAM sessions, but in some cases also percussion. What kind of percussion do you remember you played and on what tracks?

  9. Tax Man Dan

    Denny,
    Have you and Steve and Davey considered recording a short theme music piece as a demo track on the website? Three greats playing together? Could be cool!
    Dan

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      Denny

      Hi Dan…yes we have…we have the tune and waiting for everyone to be free to shoot a video at the same time…as the ad for the relaunch to be used on Youtube….with all 5 guys participating…..we have a new roster that is awesome. Please get me that list of web guys to talk to soon….we are almost ready to relaunch….thanks for the question Dan the tax man….

  10. Charles Geier

    Denny,

    What is the best thing that a beginning drummer can learn, in your opinion?

    How does a drummer choose how many drums to have in their set (i.e. bass, snare, symbol vrs. whole set). What do you recommend for beginners/intermediate players?

    Thank You,

    Charles Geier

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      Denny

      Thanks for the question Charles….In My Opinion..the best thing a beginning drummer should learn is the basic concept of bouncing and controlling the sticks….which can be done by practicing the 26 rudiments of drumming. I have taken these 26 rudiments and updated them into a simpler form that seems to make the process easier to remember and brings about quicker results. This concept will be available in the book I am writing for Alfred publishing, which is expected to be released in 2014….I will also make this concept available here on MUSINQ in the near future.
      as to the question of how many drums to use….I am of the belief that if you can’t say what you gotta say with a basic 4 piece kit, you’re missing the boat. Sometimes the music dictates if a larger kit is needed to perform certain sounds such as toms or even cymbals…ie; chinese , splashes or whatever. It took me 20 years to add a second tom to the rack, and I do enjoy the 4 piece kit more than an oversized kit , because it makes me think more musically as to what the song needs as opposed to “what can I put into the song” with my drum part. The idea of the egoless drum part seems to be a real key to success for many drummers. Summing up….it’s your call , but remember the more you add to your setup…the more you have to carry, maintain, mic, and tear down, and tune, and replace heads on, and worry about…hahahahaha..hope I’ve answered your question

  11. Lisa Cueto

    I am a drummer and I was wondering if you could provide me with an example of a warm up lesson that you do including the staff notation.

    Thank You

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      Denny

      I usually do a series of single strokes….double strokes…triple strokes, quadruple strokes…ie……rlrlrl – rrllrrllrrll – rrrlllrrrlll – rrrrllllrrrrllll….folowed by 5 stroke rolls rrllr..llrrl, followed by 4 stroke roughs…rlrl lrlr then the drag rrl llr rrl llr followed by flams lr rl lr rl and back to single stroke rolls…
      It is more than difficult to put music as written into this format, so I hope this helps.
      nothing like basics to make a good drummer.

  12. Justin R

    Hey Denny! Just wondering how would you go about starting a teaching career with drums? I have toured and done session work for years but things have slowed down and I am getting more into the education aspect. Any Pointers?? thanks!

    J

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      Denny

      HI Justin….I started at a music store with a few students each week, and the word of mouth takes care of the rest. I now have a home studio where I can teach, and have had anywhere from 5 to 12 students each week.
      It’s rewarding in a different way, and I have had several students go on to universities, and several on to being professionals in bands etc….the other benefit is, you get to keep your chops up and stay current on the music scene…II bet you can get the word out thru social media as to your starting up with a teaching program…after that, it’s up to you to develop a program or many programs for the students that come to you. I find that individual needs of each student dictate what to teach them, and wish you well….please keep me posted as to how it is going

  13. Adriano Nunes

    Hey Denny, it’s me again, from “Wings Over Brazil” website.

    I was looking at some picture of Wings tour bus of University Tour and thought were in the world should be that bus right now… Do you know what happened to it?

    Cheers,

    Adriano Nunes

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  14. Will Holdcroft

    Hey Denny! Just wanted to ask, do you have any special moments or memories from the recording/writing of Red Rose Speedway? My favorite Wings album! You’re the best thanks Denny!
    Will

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      Denny

      HI Will, sure plenty of fond moments….we recorded at several studios and also worked with Glynn Johns on several tracks….we had a lot of fun doing things like switching instruments….henry played drums, I played , bass, which I dont really play, sax, and trumpet. It was a lot of fun and we were becoming a real band, and had history together…I could go on and on, but it was a great time

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      Denny

      yes in fact I played with them at the Grove in Anaheim for an event and also at the Hollywood Bowl. sat in for a few tunes and they are very good. I’m not a fan of tribute bands in general, but there seems to be a need for them.
      For me, the creative of part of making the music come to life is the magic of it all…..repeating someone’s parts does not interest me …..

  15. John U

    Denny, I was wondering if I hear you singing anywhere on Ram or any of Paul’s early songs. Often, he has some spoken word stuff and was thinking maybe you had some presence there. Also, was listening to “Wide Prarie” today and thought maybe you had played on some of those songs as well.

    Thanks Denny. ‘Ve always been a huge fan

    John

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      Denny

      Hi John,

      I did not sing on Ram at all, but did a few background vocals on Red Rose Speedway. Little lamb dragonfly is the trackk where I can be heard best…although my voice is more like a fog horn than a singer’s voice. I did play
      on Wild Prarie…you have a good ear….

      1. John U

        I read somewhere you wrote a bit of Little Lamb Dragonfly. It’s honestly a really nice, delicate piece, one of my favorites. Have you ever performed that live? For whatever reason I always thought it sounded more like a RAM song than a Red Rose Speedway song. Just the personal quality of the recording I guess. Thanks, great website you have.

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          Denny

          I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that i WRPTE apart of it,, but I did help Paul complete some of the song one day while we were at Trident studios in London, by finishing some background vocal parts. I guess that is writing , but really nothing as creative as the main lyric Little lamb Dragonfly was written for the Rupert the Bear cartoon that Paul wanted to make into a film one day….WE have never performed it live….it is a great song, and needs to be in a set …dont forget to peek in on MUSINQ.com….our new lineup is complete with Davey Johnstone ( Elton John band), Steve Porcaro, studio- Toto, as well as
          soundtrack composer, Lee Sklar (everyone)…Lenny Castro studio ( everyone)
          and yours truly…Our new launch is right around the corner…tell your friends to check in and ask questions of the PROS….

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      Denny

      Glyn got one of the best drum sounds I ever had, and yes I learned a bunch from his production techniques, but Paul taught me more than any of the producers I worked with and some were greats….like Andrew Oldham, Leon Russell , Richard Perry,Phil Ramone, Brooks Arthur, Desmond Childs and so many more….

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          Denny

          I would LOVE to come to Brazil again…I was there in 1963 with a Navy Band….we were in Salvador, Bahia, Recife, Rio, Puerto Allegre , and it was one of my fondest memories. The Music absolutely influenced my rock drumming.
          I am known as a drummer that specializes in Brazilian music, and if you tell your fans to go to my website.www.dennyseiwell.com, they can buy my trio(Denny Seiwell Trio) CD “Reckless Abandon”, which is also on itunes….we do quite a few tunes with the bossa . / samba influence. I played with AStrud Gilberto back in 1970 just before meeting Paul, and Brazilian music is always a part of me…I’d drop everything to come to Brazil to play music…

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            Denny

            the trio is made up of Joe Bagg on organ, John Chiodini on guitar and me….we have a facebook page dennyseiwelltrio…plz tell your friends to visit it, and the 1st cd is available on itunes,….we are starting our 2nd cd very soon. we thought it would be a good idea to use some McCartney tunes since I am known as his drummer …so we do oour versions of Coming Up, DEar Friend, Bip Bop, Loup, and Every Nite on the Reckless Abandon cd.
            if you go to youtube, and type in Denny Seiwell Trio Live at Vitello’s, you can see 4 or 5 clips of the band playing live….enjoy

          2. Adriano Nunes

            I’ll certainly share this with brazilian fans, really is great stuff. The versions you made were beatiful. Well, thanks for your time, Denny, hope someday you make that recording trip to Rio that Wings were planing before choosing Lagos. C’mon, I Know that is the real reason you decided to leave Wings! You’re always welcome in Brazil, and was an honor to interview you. Any last words for the readers of Wings Over Brazil?

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            Denny

            glad you like our versions of Paul MCCartney tunes….with a Brazilian flare….we are about to record our next CD which will include a tune called “Curumim” one of my favorite tunes…go to youtube and type in Denny Seiwell trio Live at Vitellos to see videos of the band and hear Curumim as well…

  16. Adriano Nunes

    Hi Denny, would like to start knowing your thoughts about the most recent facts involving Wings.

    Henry’s family and friends are preparing a benefit concert to help in his treatment. I must admit I started thinking in a possibility to see you, Denny Laine and Paul at stage together, again. Is this something possible? Not exactly a Wings reunion, but kind of “hey, this guys were part of WIngs and now there are playng this Elvis song together.” Do you think it will ever happen?

    Paul McCartney is reissuing his after-Beatles albuns, including Wings ones. Are you involved with this process? Do you have some rare Wings material that intend to release someday too? It would be nice to watch more live concerts, there are some bootlegs with good quality but most of the don’t have video.

    Still talking about bootlegs, do you download some of them secretely?

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      Denny

      Thanks for your question. I don’t know of anything being planned regarding a benefit for Henry. I doubt that the remaining Wings would play together even for an event like a benefit for Henry’s treatment..But you never know.
      I am not involved with the releases of Paul’s past albums, however I did quite a few interviews about the re-issue of the RAM album. I do not have any rare stuff that I could release, and if did would need Paul’s permission anyway, and I do not download bootlegs….once in a while a fan sends me a bootleg copy of a show from one of our tours, but that is about it. Facebook has clips every once on a while.

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          Denny

          I don’t think so….I talked to Paul about a Wings reunion shortly after Linda passed, and he was into it for the moment, but after thinking about it, he said ” doing a wings reunion without linda, would be like doing a beatles reunion without john…i’m pretty sure he still feels that way

          1. Adriano Nunes

            Well, I agree with you and Paul.
            Talking about the albuns, Red Rose Speedway didn’t have that “one-take recording” of Wild Life, but still sound like a simple and beatifull album (one of my favorites, by the way). When recording RAM you told once that you felt that it was a great album and the songs would be heard 50 years ahead. What were your impressions while recording Red Rose Speedway? Did you felt that it was part of something big, whitout knowing that Wings would close the 70’s as one of the most important bands of that period?

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            Denny

            While we were doing RR Speedway, it was supposed to be a double album, and the material was great, but not as great as Ram in my opinion, and the band had become a better band after the time on tour etc…It was a good record, but lacked something that the Ram album had. We also used Glyn Johns on some of the tracks for RR Speedway , which was really nice. It didn’t work out to have Glyn produce all of the tracks tho…unfortunately. I loved his production.
            I didn’t think that Wings would become as big as we did in that period of music history..

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