Peter Erskine was born Somers Point NJ 5 June, 1954. He began playing the drums at the age of four, and has now been at the forefront of world-class jazz ensembles for over thirty years. His first major professional work was with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, which he joined in 1972. After a three-year stint with Kenton and a two year stay with Maynard Ferguson, he joined Weather Report in 1978. The excellence of the partnership between Erskine and bassist Jaco Pastorius was an integral part of that group's success. Following his 4 years in Weather Report (having recorded five albums with them including the Grammy Award winning "8:30"), he began to play with Mike Brecker, Mike Mainieri and Eddie Gomez in the group Steps Ahead.
His other touring and recording credits (500 albums) include Diana Krall, Steely Dan, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Gary Burton & Pat Metheny, Boz Scaggs, Joni Mitchell, Ralph Towner, Sadao Watanabe, Hubert Laws, Queen Latifah, Al Di Meola, Eliane Elias, Miroslav Vitous and JanGarbarek, as well as "Bass Desires" (with John Scofield, Bill Frisell, and Marc Johnson), the John Abercrombie Trio, the Kenny Wheeler Quintet & Big Band, the Bob Mintzer Big Band, as well as his own group. Peter has recorded ten solo albums: "Peter Erskine", "Transition", "Motion Poet", "Big Theatre", "Sweet Soul", and his ECM recordings "You Never Know,” "Time Being", "As It Is" and “Juni” as well as "History of the DRUM" on Interworld Music. His trio recordings on his own label Fuzzy Music include “Live at Rocco” and “Badlands” with Alana Pasqua and Dave Carpenter, plus 2 albums with the Lounge Art Ensemble (the latest being “Music For Moderns”), featuring Dave Carpenter on bass and Bob Sheppard on saxophone.
Besides touring and recording, Peter is now pursuing new avenues in his career by composing for dance, theatre and animation. He has completed musical scores for Shakespeare's King Richard II and A Midsummer Night's Dream, the latter being honored by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle with the award for the "Best Original Musical Score 1987". His music for The American Conservatory Theatre's production of Twelfth Night was awarded by the Bay Area Drama Critics' Circle as the "Best Dramatic Score for 1989". His most recent works for this medium are Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Side Man, Honour, and the dance piece "History of the Drum - Transitions in Rhythm", written expressly for the Kokuma Dance Company of Birmingham, England. In addition, he wrote and produced the music for the Japanese anime series "Gun Smith Cats” as well as the “Alien Voices” productions starring Leonard Nimpy and John De Lancie.
Erskine is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, and studied percussion with George Gaber at Indiana University. His own pedagogical efforts include four instructional videos as well as eight books, including: "Drumset Essentials, Vols. 1, 2 & 3 " (a trilogy of instructional methods), plus the "Erskine Method" book and DVD, "Essential Drum Fills" and "Time Awareness for All Musicians" (published by Alfred Music Publishing). Erskine's other books include "Drum Concepts & Techniques" and "The Drum Perspective", both published by the Hal Leonard Corp.
Erskine conducts clinics, classes and seminars worldwide. He is the Director of Drumset Studies at the USC Thornton School of Music, and is the Jazz Drumming Consultant to the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Peter Erskine has won the Modern Drummer magazine Readers' Poll in the "Jazz Drummer" category 10 times, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate degree from the Berklee College of Music. He was the soloist along with Evelyn Glennie at the world premiere of a new Double Concerto for Percussion titled "Fractured Lines," composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage, in London at the Proms in July 2000 with Sir Andrew Davis conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. That work was recorded for the Chandos label.
In 2005, Peter changed his endorsement from Yamaha to DW Drums and in 2015 to TAMA drums.