Russ McKinnon's solid intricate and syncopated grooves drove what many people call the "funkiest band in the world" ... Tower Of Power. His work with the band led Russ to being honored for five consecutive years as one of the winners of Modern Drummer's prestigious Reader's Poll. And although he may be best known for his six years of recording with Tower Of Power, Russ has now embarked on a world tour with the one and only British rocker ... Joe Cocker.
"Playing with Joe has been a great experience," says McKinnon. "I'm having the time of my life." In addition to his current gig with Joe Cocker, the Oklahoma native has been lending his enormous talents to such diverse artists and performers as: Luis Miguel, Michelle Shocked, Billy Vera, The Gap Band, Marie Osmond, Cecelia Noel, Freddie Ravel, Engelbert Humperdinck, and fellow Rhythm Tech endorser Ellis Hall.
An active educator, Russ has become very much in demand as a drum set clinician. His informational and inspirational drum events have been well attended by players and fans all across Europe, the UK, Canada and, of course, the USA.
Russ' drumming and interviews have been transcribed and featured in
nearly every major international drum publication. When we asked him what has been the most flattering of late, he responded, "Modern Drummer recently published my three part series called 'Becoming A Working Drummer.' I'm glad that I could share some of the knowledge that I acquired over the years with fellow players."
Russ graduated from The University Of Tulsa in Oklahoma and later attended graduate school at North Texas State University. His professional career actually began as he performed classical percussion with The Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra and later as a member of The Fort Worth Symphony.
He credits his membership in the 27th Lancer Drum and Bugle Corps rom Revere, Massachusetts as an important musicianship-building experience.
Russ remains very active in the Los Angeles / West Coast music and recording scene. His summers take him to Hawaii where he teaches percussion for the Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu.