Aynsley was born on January 10, 1946, in Liverpool, England. Over his career, he has demonstrated the ability of playing many different styles including jazz, blues, fusion, rock and progressive rock. With over 30 gold and platinum records from over 112 albums, Aynsley Dunbar has proven himself one of the finest drummers in the business for over forty years, whether as a member of a band or as a session musician.
After leaving the Mojos, Aynsley joined John Mayall's Bluesbreakers in 1966 with Peter Green and John McVie to record such British Blues staples as Hard Road and many others. As a Bluesbreaker, Aynsley recorded with Eddie Boyd and released an EP record with Paul Butterfield. It was through Bluesbreaker concerts that drummers first discover that an Aynsley Dunbar drum solo was something never to be missed. Aynsley's next gig was drumming for the Jeff Beck Group, with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Woods, playing on Jeff Beck's Seminal Truth sessions, Tallyman and Rock My Plimsoul. Before leaving the band, the whole group appeared in Donovan's album, Barabajajal. In 1967, Dunbar formed a blues-rock band named The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, which featured guitarist/vocalist John Moorshead, keyboardist Tommy Eyre, bassist Alex Dmochowski, organist/singer Victor Brox, and also backed-up veteran blues artist Champion Jack Dupree and Tim Rose, famous for his songs Hey Joe and In the Morning Dew. Rod Stewart also fronted Retaliation on an earlier live recording with members Peter Green and Jack Bruce. In 1969 Retaliation disbanded and Aynsley formed a new band, Blue Whale, a progressive style jamming band that recorded one album that featured a cover of a Frank Zappa song, Willie the Pimp. While with Retaliation, Aynsley met Frank Zappa in Belgium at a BYG record festival, where Frank sat in with Retaliation on three songs.
One night, upon randomly wondering into his favorite haunt, the London Club SpeakEasy, Aynsley was told someone was there waiting for him. There sat Frank Zappa. He invited Aynsley to join his new band and move to America. Aynsley arrived in the U.S., moved into Frank's Los Angeles house and set up his drums in his basement. Frank immediately put him to the test: OK, now remind me why I hired you. Aynsley delivered the goods and in that spontaneous moment, he and Frank created Chunga's Revenge. Not bad for the first day in the basement. Aynsley first appeared with Zappa on Chunga's Revenge and toured with the old Mothers on the Mother's Day Tour of 1970. Frank then approached Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (The Turtles) to join his new version of the Mothers of Invention, appearing on such albums as Fillmore East: June 1971 and 200 Motels, and playing music that gave Aynsley a chance to show off his jazzier chops. In 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono joined Aynsley with Frank and the Mothers to record the live album SOMETIME IN NEW YORK CITY..
When Howard Kaylan (Eddie) and Mark Volman (Flo) jumped ship from Zappa's band in 1972 after a strange accident in London, where a fan pushed Zappa from the stage and caused him to be confined to a wheel chair, Aynsley joined them as a member of their backing band for a short period. He would return to work with Zappa on jazzier studio projects like Waka/Jawaka, and Apostrohpe', as well as continuing his studio work for other artists. In 1973, Aynsley recorded Lou Reed's famous BERLIN album with Jack Bruce, Steve Winwood, and Tony Levin. Towards the end of Lou’s recording session David Bowie invited Aynsley to the last Spiders from Mars performance, and then David asked Aynsley to do the recording sessions for the albums PIN-UPS and DIAMOND DOGS. Aynsley recorded some powerful drumming on a cover of his own Mojos hit, Everything's All right, and Bowie's huge hit, Rebel Rebel In 1973. Also in that year he recorded Herbie Mann’s album LONDON UNDERGROUND. After recording twelve albums in two years (yes, 12 in two years), Aynsley was acclaimed by the music industry as the world's leading session musician. That same year, too busy flying a bi-weekly Atlantic crossing from Los Angles-to-London to record with Bowie. Aynsley delayed returning several phone messages from Santana guitarist Neal Schon and manager Herbie Herbert . When Aynsley finally returned the call, he took a listen to this new jazz-rock fusion group named Journey. Eager to build a democratic rock-fusion band, he joined, recorded and co-wrote four albums, including the highly acclaimed rock-fusion instrumental Kohoutek, and Of a Lifetime, which features Gregg Rolie’s vocals with high-impact solos, Hustler, which featured Aynsley's first use of double kick drums, and such mega-hits as Lights, Feeling That Way, Anytime, Patiently, Something to Hide and Wheel in the Sky. Late in 1978 Aynsley departed Journey as the band shifted their sound away from challenging rock-fusion towards simpler ballads. Whilst playing with Journey, in 1975 Aynsley played on Nils Lofgren’s album Nils Lofgren with his hit BACK IT UP. Then again in 1976 on his CRY TOUGH album, on the song Cry Tough. That same year he also played on Sammy Hagar's album NINE ON A TEN INCH SCALE. Aynsley next joined Jefferson Starship in 1978, promptly bringing the band a new hit album with FREEDOM AT POINT ZERO and such hits as Jane, Girl with the Hungry Eyes, and the mega hit, Find Your Way Back. He stayed with Jefferson Starship, touring and recording through 1982's Winds of Change. Aynsley took a well-deserved breather, to rest on his laurels in the great city of San Francisco, the same city that awarded him three prestigious BAMMIES. At the request of David Coverdale, over lunch at Sunset's La Dome, Aynsley was convinced to leave retirement to join Whitesnake in 1985. Aynsley played drums on the band's commercial breakthrough album, WHITESNAKE 1987, producing another string of hits, Still of the Night, What is Love and Here I go Again.
Aynsley then took another leave to raise his four children, Gretchen, Bibs, Taylor and Dash but the sticks kept calling and Aynsley headed out on the road again in 1994, playing and recording with such artists as Pat Travers, UFO, John Lee Hooker, Michael Schenker, and collaborating with many of the world's top musicians on tribute albums to Van Halen, Steve Ray Vaughn, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Queen and Metallica. In 1996, Aynsley joined guitarist Alvin Lee from Ten Years After, Eric Burdon and a band of veteran musicians for a tour entitled Best of British Blues. Soon after, a virtuoso of musicians formed a hard driving rock band Mother's Army, featuring guitarist Jeff Watson from Night Ranger, Ozzie Osborne's bassist Bob Daisley, Deep Purple front man Joe Lynn Turner with Aynsley on the chops for a progressive metal-rock album Fire on the Moon.
In October 1996, Aynsley returned to his hectic world touring roots and signed on with Eric Burdon and the New Animals, bringing his powerful, driving beat to the rock `n roll hits We Gotta Get Out of This Place, It's My Life, Spill the Wine, Don't Bring Me Down, House of the Rising Sun, and many, many others. He has recorded three albums and a live recorded DVD which includes one of Aynsley's tremendous drum solos. As a New Animal, Aynsley reunited last year with John Mayall and Spencer Davis to perform for the Official 2000 Grammy Awards. The New Animals joined Spencer again, playing at the U.S. Democratic National Convention in 2000.
No other modern rock / jazz / blues / fusion drummer has played with as many successful bands and musicians as Aynsley Dunbar. Although Aynsley has achieved such professional success, tragedy struck him June 1999, when his youngest son Dash was diagnosed with brain cancer. Sadly, Dash passed away on May 9, 2000. Dash's courageous fight proves to be an inspiration for Aynsley to keep pushing on, never to give up his dream... to continue creating music and to share his tremendous musical talent with the world. Aynsley continues to be one of the most recorded drummers in the world with his talents sought by the biggest names in the industry. Don’t be surprised to see Aynsley’s talents with one of your favorite artists as he continues to play hundreds of live shows all over the world with THE WORLD CLASSIC ROCKERS, as well as his session work.
In 2003, Aynsley was recognized with a BAMMIES WALK of FAME AWARD. Aynsley with the current and past members of Journey members were inducted into the Bammies Walk of Fame in San Francisco. This was a special event that included an all-star jam session of many of the top rock n’ roll musicians in the industry. In 2005 Aynsley and the Journey members were recognized again with a HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME AWARD. Journey was recognized for selling in excess of 75 million albums and has been one of the all-time musical acts of our generation. On April 7, 2017, Aynsley will be inducted into the ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME as a member of Journey. A truly amazing career!
The following list contains the bands that Aynsley either played or recorded with over his very impressive career (listed in alphabetical order):
AYNSLEY DUNBAR RETALIATION
DERRY WILKIE & THE PRESSMEN
ERIC BURDON & THE NEW ANIMALS
ERIC BURDON'S I BAND
FLO & EDDIE
FREDDIE STARR & THE FLAMINGOS
JACK CHAMPION DUPREE
JEFF BECK GROUP
JOHN MAYALL'S BLUESBREAKERS
MERSEYSIPPI JAZZ BAND
PAT TRAVERS BAND
STU JAMES & THE MOJOS
THE BEST OF BRITISH BLUES
THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION
THE WORLD CLASSIC ROCKERS