KEVIN GRIFFIN – DRUMMER BIO
I started playing by accident via my older brother Jack who had recently graduated high school, and being the late 60’s with peace,love, & flower power, wanted to be in a band. Being a drummer in school, he of course bought a nice new Ludwig Ringo drum set, but to my good fortune soon tired of drums and switched to bass guitar. Well, the drums sat there and my curiosity overcame me and I started playing them. My brother noticed I seemed to have a knack for it, so I kept it up. Later on there was another set at home, a beautiful Rogers 4 piece kit and I started seriously practicing.
Long story short, I eventually bought my own, or I should say my Dad bought me my own and I practiced by playing to my favorite records with headphones. I was never properly schooled at the drums.
By the time I was 16 or so, I met some kids who played guitar and bass, his name was Chris something and the bass players name escapes me, but Chris was nothing short of amazing for his age. We played only in my basement and we did nothing but Black Sabbath covers and Hendrix, and Zeppelin.
Great stuff to cut my teeth on !! I met a pair of guys who I’m proud to say are still my friends today that I see regularly. Nelson Diaz & Clark Whitemyer. We didn’t a band together then but for years would play in each others bands.
I still am a part time member of Nelsons “Deep 6” band. Anyways, I met a pair of brothers who was playing “mexican music” as they called it, but wanted to rock. They were Sam & older brother Carlos Rincones. This would be my first real band that actually played in front of people for money!! YIPPIE!!
It also cemented my love of playing 3 piece. We did Johnny Winter songs and all kinds of stuff WE liked, not really what was on the radio. But people loved the band nevertheless. I moved on from that and got a job in a country variety band with my friend Clark, with Dan Wolf (r.i.p.) called the Wolf pack. Fun band, 3 piece, and we learned different music from what we were used to. A great lesson for me.
I spent a lot of time playing with the popular local country bands of the day, The Johnson Brothers, Just Connie, and a bunch I can’t remember but I learned a great deal from these much more experienced players. They taught me time signatures, how to “trade fours”, and all the things I missed by not having proper training.
I loved those days. I’d been in a few bands but the next I recall was Randy Springers “Sundown” for about a year I think. Left them to play in a rock band with Art Zima and Nelson. That band eventually became “Shut up & Boogie” and to my amazement was a pretty popular band. We did our tenure at the “Jolly Trolly Saloon” on Alpine. Those were really fun days. That was in 1983 or so. It’s where I met all the rockers I came to love and respect.
It’s where I learned that girls loved musicians. It’s where I learned how to party like a rock star. Unfortunately the latter statement would plague me the rest of my life. That band was myself on drums, Art Zima on bass & vocals, Denny Avery of “Clockwork” on guitar, & Shannon Blaukamp on guitar. I played around the area in both the rock scene & country scene for a few years. I worked with the Thom Ellis Band for a time thanks to a reference from Tommy Davis. The manager made take all my bottom heads off and put duck tape on my top heads. After that I swore I would NEVER do that again.
I worked with Jimmy Davis & Pete Petersen in the “Pocket Monsters”. We did a show in Arkansas with ’70’s country crooner Narvel Felts. Unfortunately, Patti Loveless was booked right down the road at the height of her popularity so we ended up playing to about 10 people, including the staff!! We also recorded together. And in 2012 I recorded another Jimmy Davis/Cadillac Crumb record called “bohemian existentialist”. I had worked with Pete again with Wally Daniels and Herman Marshall in “Thin & Thin”. We recorded a couple of c.d’s and did a video for television with Rik Eyk.
I did one more stint with Springer in his self named band. We recorded an Album and had a few openers for signed artists. I worked with long time friends Jerry Lavan and his brother Mark in a country band that was very popular, but for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the band. We also did an opener for John Anderson the country star. I Then got a job offer with Chuck Bob Carnes, ( once again via the infamous Tommy Davis who had become my friend & biggest supporter) and to go on tour to support his recently recorded album.
That let me to tour down through Kentucy where we did a 2 week stint at Chucks fathers bar. Then on to Florida. We played all over but it was Key West I fell in love with, and decided to move there. Within 2 months I landed a job with Randy Lewis and his “out-a-hand band”. If you knew about Randy, he was born without a right hand his arm stopping just below his elbow. I won’t be able to say enough about this guy. He was one of the most talented people I have ever worked with. A phenomenal singer and player who was once signed to Capricorn Records with Mose Jones. He also wrote hit songs for A.R.S. Along with Randy, the guitarist was Carl Peachey, another of one the most talented guys I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Randy taught me more about groove than anyone had previously.
Anyway, besides that band, I had worked with the regionally popular since the 70’s “Bill Blue & the Nervous Guys”. We recorded and played behind a full length studio album called “Carolina Town”. It’s still around down south. One last Florida highlight is doing gigs with Tito Puente’s long time arranger & Grammy winner, Brian Murphy. He called me to do jazz gigs & I asked, “why you calling me”? I knew nothing about playing jazz. He just told me to wing it. I did. He later, I found out, was telling people all over Key West about what a “low down mother f’er” I was on the drums in a very complimentary fashion!! I was shocked!!
One more quick note, I was asked to join the “key west all stars” my first year there. We played once a year at fantasy fest for STUPID BIG MONEY!! Also, I was voted best drummer in Key West by the local press there.
I moved back to Michigan in 2001. I goofed off for a while and then got a call from long time friend & great bassist Dan Gard to come and join the band “Chaser” with another long time friend Clark my childhood friend.
I was in and out of that band due to my addiction issues rearing there ugly head again. I worked a day job taking care of disabled folks which I enjoyed immensely. I had also stayed clean and sober all through this time, (the 2000’s). During that time I reconnected with Wally Daniels from Thick-n-Thin. We shared a house and set up a recording studio. We then recorded an all original album called “Faith For Fear”. As well as many demo’ed up songs. I played in a local band or two, and then joined up with old friend Nelson in his “Deep 6” band, which I’m still part of part time.
Unfortunately, my health has taken a turn for the worse which stopped me from playing live. A lot of bone & muscle problems. Finally, In 2013, I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I am currently in treatment for that with hopes of recovering. But I am very ill with it. Thank You to all of the wonderful & talented people I have worked with over the years. If I have forgotten anyone, I’m sorry. If anyone has any old videos or recordings with me on them PLEASE let me know! Thanks Again!!
Venues Played at:
BARS & CLUBS
(in no particular order)
All gigs are Grand Rapids unless otherwise noted.
- LEXICON CLUB ( house gig was my first bar gig. Played 6 months at the lexicon with Wolf Pack).
- Leonard Heights Bar ( Grand Rapids)
- Jolly Trolly
- River City Saloon
- Silver Cloud
- Canopy (can-o-pee)
- The Valley
- The Loading Zone
- The Raven
- Old Town Tavern (Hastings)
- Champs (Middleville)
- Alpine Lounge
- Neutral Corner
- Holiday Bar
- Bow Tie Tavern (Sparta)
- Water Tower (Belding)
- The Colony (Howard City) how-weird city
- The Royal Knight (Hilliards)
- The Point
- Poinciana Lounge (Key West,Fla.)
- Sloppy Joes (Key West)
- Capt. Tonys (Key West) 1994-1999
- Hogs Breath (Key West & Panama City)
- White Horse Saloon (Orlando,Fla.) note* A t.v. Show was filmed there for years for Country Music T.V. Beautiful Place!
- Green Parrot (Key West)
- Turtle Kralls (Key West)
- Margaritaville (Key West)
- The Bull & Whistle (Key West)
- Ocean Key House (Key West)
- Schooner Wharf (Key West)
- Barneys (Louisville, Kentucy)
- Private Club (can’t remember name), El Dorado, Arkansas, Note* Played with 70’s country star Narvel Felts
- Lamar Park (with Country Roads, opened for John Anderson)
- Club Eastbrook (opened for Rob Crosby with Chuck Bob Carnes)
- Bullwinkles (with Shut up & Boogie, opened for The Pat Travers Band)
- Multi-Bar Club (Ft. Wayne, In. with Country Roads) note* at the same time we were playing, one night the Marshall Tucker Band was playing right across from us, then the band Survivor, Then the next night the James Young Band. Styx)
- Sons & Daughters
- The Swinging Door
- Traverse City Cherry Festival Main Stage. (headliner with C.B.C. Band)
- Downtown Grand Rapids. (one of the festivals. Opened for Eddie Raven. With Randy Springer Band.)
- The Zoo (Lowell)
- M66 Lounge
- Westwood Ranch House
- Wayland Hotel
- McDuffs (Wayland)
- Daisy Maes (Gun Lake)
- The Gun Tavern (Cedar Springs)
- Harvard Bar (Harvard)
- there’s probably some I forgot !!