“He can break your heart with one cymbal crash.”
Bobby Previte’s first stage appearance came in 1956 at the Niagara Falls Talent Show, where, guitar in hand and adorned in an over-sized suit, he belted out a solo rendition of Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound Dog.’
Eight years later, thinking drumming might be a good way to get girls, he fashioned a bass drum from a rusted garbage can, a kick pedal from a wire coat hanger wedged between two pieces of linoleum and a rubber ball stuck on top, tom toms from upside-down trash bins, cymbals from aluminum pie plates suspended on plungers, and a box of loose junk for a snare – then practiced for a year in his dark basement with a lone spotlight shining on him before eventually starting a band, the “Devil’s Disciples.” But when they finally got a job at the church he was fired for not having ‘real’ drums. Seeking revenge, he took a job as a paperboy, saved every penny, and a year later bought the drum kit he still uses today in concerts all over the world.
Strolling in the East Village one bright afternoon, he peered inside a limo stuck in traffic (crosstown) and suddenly found himself face to face with Jimi Hendrix. Thinking fast, he unfurled the poster of Jimi he had fortunately just acquired, then looked on in astonishment as Hendrix smiled and flashed him the peace sign.
All the rest, as they say, is noise.
HISTORY: BA, SUNY Buffalo. Moved to New York City in 1979. Has worked for/with an unlikely array of leading lights including John Adams, Terry Adams, Robert Altman, Johnny Copeland, Lejaren Hiller, Charlie Hunter, Lenny Kaye, John Lurie, Sonny Sharrock, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Tom Waits, and the internet swears Iggy Pop, although he can’t seem to remember that, exactly.
AWARDS: The Greenfield Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, NEA, NYSCA, NYFA, Franklin Furnace, The American Music Center, MCAF, Mid Atlantic Arts, NY State Music Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Jerome Foundation.
EVENTS: RHAPSODY, ROULETTE, NYC, PAINTED BRIDE, Philadelphia, 2018, New College, Sarasota, FL, 2017, NIAGARA FALLS, 1959, Hudson Opera House, 2017, TERMINAL 4, Zankel Hall, New York, 2016, TERMINAL 4, PASIC, Indianapolis, IN 2014, TERMINALS with Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Clermont-Ferrand France, 2014, DIORAMA, Groundswell, Olana, Hudson NY, 2013, TERMINAL 4 with So Percussion, Look and Listen Festival, NYC, 2012, TERMINALS PART 1, WNYC New Sounds Live/Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall, 2011, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, 2011, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, 2013-2014; DIORAMA, Groundswell/Wave Farm/Olana State Historic Site, 2013; Franklin Furnace/Chashama, 2012, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, 2010; THE 23 CONSTELLATIONS OF JOAN MIRÓ, Winter Garden, New York, 2008; THE SEPARATION, Walker Art Center, 2007; DIALED IN (with Benton-C Bainbridge), Lincoln Center, EMPAC, Eyebeam, 2007; Touring various other bands and projects since 1985 at festivals and clubs worldwide.
RECORDINGS: Sony, Nonesuch, Palmetto, Gramavision, Enja, Thirsty Ear, New World, Ropeadope, Veal, Spacebone, RareNoise.
MASTER CLASSES: Eastman School of Music, Walker Art Center, Art and Music Omi, Merano Jazz Festival and Academy, Princeton University, Cornish College of the Arts, Purchase College, Bard College, The New School.
RESIDENCIES: The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, The Hermitage Artist Retreat, Civitella Ranieri, Montalvo Art Center, eleven MacDowell Colony fellowships.
THEATER/DANCE/PERFORMANCE/ART: The Moscow Circus on Broadway, Theodora Skipitares, Andrea Kleine, Clarinda Mac Low, Aynsley Vandenbroucke, Benton-c Bainbridge, e-team.
FILM SCORES: Chain Letters (dir. Mark Rappoport), Maze (dir. Rob Morrow).
ODDITIES: actor, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, “The Mute Marine,” w/ William Shatner, 1984; as “The Drummer” in SHORT CUTS – Robert Altman, 1993.
Bobby Previte plays Paiste cymbals and Evans heads on DW drums, with Regal Tip sticks.
Bobby Previte is a composer and performer whose work explores the nexus between notated and improvised music. One of the seminal figures of the 1980s New York ‘Downtown’ scene, Previte is the recipient of the 2015 Greenfield Prize for music and was a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow in 2012. He has received multiple awards for composition from the NEA, NYFA, NYSCA, New Music USA, The Jerome Foundation, The New York State Music Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the American Music Center. Mr. Previte has been an artist-in-residence at the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy, Civitella Ranieri, The Montalvo Arts Center, The Hermitage Artist Retreat, and nine times at the MacDowell Colony.
His original compositions have been recorded and released on Sony, Elektra, Rykodisc, Palmetto, New World, Ropeadope, Tzadik, Thirsty Ear, Cantaloupe and Rarenoise. Leading a plethora of diverse ensembles from his instrument, the drums, he has collaborated with many of the leading lights in and beyond the world of music, including master composer John Adams, iconic singer Tom Waits, pantheon filmmaker Robert Altman, and most recently, rock legend Iggy Pop. His music has been labeled as ‘utterly original,’ by the New York Times, while The New Yorker has said his ensembles ‘speak in visionary tongues.’ Mr. Previte has given master classes at schools and universities around the world including The Eastma School of Music, The New School, Bard College, and Princeton University. His recent work includes: TERMINALS, Five Concertos for Percussion Ensemble and Soloist, with SO Percussion, released October 28th, 2014 by Cantaloupe Music, GONE, with Bobby Previte & the Visitors, released summer 2016 on the forTune label, TERMINALS QUARTETS, the percussion only version of Terminals, summer 2016, by Cantaloupe Music, and MASS, a music in nine parts for choir, pipe organ, and metal trio, released April 2017 by Rarenoise Records. His newest work, RHAPSODY, a song cycle on the subject of migration, was commissioned by the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, and premiered April 21, 2017 at New College in Sarasota, Florida. Scored for acoustic guitar, harp, piano, voice, drums and saxophone, and featuring a powerhouse band of Zeena Parkins, John Medeski, Nels Cline, Fabian Rucker, and Jen Shyu, RHAPSODY was released in January, 2018 by Rarenoise.