John Ramsay

254 – John Ramsay talks: Alan Dawson, Art Blakey and approaching music as a lifelong endeavor

John Ramsay could qualify as a person who has lived many different lives. Having started off as an underachieving student, John Ramsay got serious about his playing and created quite the career for himself in multiple capacities. He started as a student of the legendary Alan Dawson, landed a gig playing with Art Blakey (he later became Art’s tour manager, too) and now resides as the Chair of the Percussion Department at Berklee School of Music. All the while, John has maintained a balanced life of fatherhood and family, fishing, gardening and other interests that make him more than a musician…they make him happy.

John Ramsay talks about:

  • How he got started playing drums
  • What lead him to studying with Alan Dawson
  • Why Alan Dawson was such a genius player and teacher
  •  Getting the Art Blakey gig
  • How he ended up Art’s tour manager
  • Why he decided to get a job at Berklee
  • The importance of being happy
  • Why it’s ok to have other interests besides music
  • much more

Resources / Links / People mentioned:

John Ramsay Plays:

  • DW Drums
  • Zildjian Cymbals
  • Vic Firth Drumsticks
  • Remo Drumheads

DW Drums: I’ve been playing DW for years…not only because they make high-quality, handcrafted drums but because they support and foster drumming initiatives all over the wold, much like this podcast. I’m thrilled to announce that DW has signed on to support Drummer’s Reosource for 2016! Be sure to check them out today at

Evans Drumheads: Drummers can’t agree on much, but they do agree on UV1. With its patented UV-cured coating, it lasts longer and holds stronger than traditionally coated heads. UV1’s single-ply of unique 10mil film is more resistant to stretching and denting. These two features combined make it the first choice for drummers who’ve grown tired of heads that flake, chip, and wear out before their time. Learn more at

Dream Cymbals: Dream Cymbals are a different kind of cymbal company because they keep it simple. Their approach is simple: Make high-quality, handcrafted cymbals and gongs and sell them for a reasonable price. Their new Ignition Series cymbals are hand hammered from cast bronze discs making for professional quality cymbals at entry-level prices. The 3 piece pack includes 14” Hi-Hats, 16” Crash, 20” Ride PLUS a 22” bag to help protect them. Check them out at

Musicians Institute: Musicians Institute (MI) is the official education partner of Drummer’s Resource. Located in the heart of Hollywood, CA, (where they’ve been since 1977) MI boats world class faculty, recording studios, curriculum and events for the aspiring musician. MI offers a chance to learn everything you need to create a successful music career by showing you how to get not only your drumming chops together but also your business and tech chops together too. Learn more at