Aynsley Dunbar was born on January 10, 1946, in Liverpool, England. Over his career he has demonstrated the ability to play many different styles including jazz, blues, fusion, rock and progressive rock. With over 30 gold and platinum records from over 112 albums, Aynsley has proven himself one of the finest drummers in the music business for the past forty years.
Aynsley began his professional career on the Liverpool jazz scene, playing at various gigs until joining the band Leo Rutherford at the age of fifteen. He then moved on to play in a traditional jazz band Merseysippi Jazz Band. In August 1963, when rock descended on Liverpool, Aynsley began playing rock/R&B and joined Derry Wilkie and the Pressmen. In January 1964 the band broke up and Aynsley joined four of the band members to form The Flamingos. After a short tour of Germany, they joined Freddie Starr in April of 1964 to form Freddie Starr and the Flamingos. In 1964, Aynsley joined the Excheckers, and after that he played with Stu James and the Mojos, a Liverpool band who toured from 1963-1966, famous for their pop hit entitled Everything’s All Right.
After leaving the Mojos, Aynsley joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in 1966 with Peter Green and John McVie to record such British Blues hits as Hard Road and many others. As a Bluesbreaker, Aynsley recorded with Eddie Boyd and released an EP record with Paul Butterfield.
Aynsley’s next gig was playing for the Jeff Beck Group, with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, 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 they backed 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. Retaliation disbanded and Aynsley formed a new band, Blue Whale, a progressive style jamming band that recorded one album that featured a cover of the Frank Zappa song, Willie the Pimp. While with Retaliation, Aynsley met Frank Zappa in Belgium at a BYG record festival when Frank sat in with Retaliation on two songs.
Frank Zappa soon after invited Aynsley to join his new band and move to The United States. He first appeared with Zappa on Chunga’s Revenge and toured with the old Mothers on the Mother’s Day Tour of 1970. Aynsley appeared on such albums as Fillmore East: June 1971 and 200 Motels. Zappa’s music really gave Aynsley a chance to show off his jazz/fusion 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.
Aynsley later joined up with David Bowie in the 1973-1974 time frame for the albums Pin-Ups and Diamond Dogs. He recorded stunning drum tracks on a cover of his own Mojos hit, Everything’s All right, and Bowie’s huge hit, Rebel Rebel. In 1973, Aynsley also recorded Lou Reed’s famous session album “Berlin” with Jack Bruce, Steve Winwood, and Tony Levin. In 1974, after recording twelve albums in two years Aynsley was acclaimed by the music industry as the world’s leading session musician. That same year, after an exhaustive bi-weekly Atlantic crossings 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. He joined, and ended up recorded and co-writing four albums, including the highly acclaimed rock-fusion instrumental Kohoutek, Of a Lifetime, and such mega-hits as Lights, Feeling That Way, Anytime, Patiently, Something to Hide and Wheel in the Sky. Aynsley eventually departed Journey and went back to business as an in-demand session player.
In 1976, Aynsley played on rocker Sammy Hagar’s album Nine On a Ten Inch Scale and played for the second time with Nils Lofgren on his hit Back it Up on Cry Tough. 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, through the 1980s until 1985 when singer David Coverdale asked Aynsley to play drums on Whitesnake’s commercial breakthrough album, Whitesnake 1987. The album produced a string of hits such as Still of the Night, What is Love and Here I go Again. Aynsley has also performed and recorded with artists such as: Pat Travers, UFO, John Lee Hooker, Michael Schenker.
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. He later returned to touring 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 with the group, as well as a live DVD which includes one of Aynsley’s tremendous drum solos. As a New Animal, Aynsley reunited 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. Anysley continues to perform, record and serve as an inspiration to drummers everywhere who aspire to have long successful careers in the music business.