Mike Mangini started playing the drums when he was two and a half years old. He would practice two to four hours a day and by the time he was nine he was already mimicking Buddy Rich performances. By high school, he was performing in school bands and participating in the prestigious All-State, and all Eastern United States ensembles.
After graduating from Waltham Senior High School in 1981, Mangini put aside his music studies to pursue a computer science major at Bentley University. After graduating Mike started programming software for the Patriot Missile program. At the same time, he was working on a program that studied the links between the human brain and body.
In 1987, Mangini scored one of his first 'high-profile' gigs - playing drums for the Rick Berlin Band in Boston, where he worked with bassist Philip Bynoe (who would later go on to work with Mike in sessions for Journey's Steve Perry and more notably during Mike's time in the Steve Vai band). He also taught drums privately in Boston during this time.
In 1991, Mangini began working for the thrash metal band Annihilator. Mike performed on the drums on several tracks for the studio album, Set the World on Fire. He went on to tour with the band in support of this album up until 1994. In 1994 he was asked to play with the band Extreme, replacing original drummer Paul Geary. Mike Mangini had been friends with noted Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt since the 1980s. His time in Extreme included recording several tracks for their 1995 album, Waiting For The Punchline. During this time, he also made an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. While on tour with Extreme in 1995, Mike recorded songs for Nuno on his 4-track tape machine. Those songs ended up on Schizophonic after Nuno left Extreme to pursue a solo career.
After Extreme dissolved in 1996, Mike was informed through drummer Jonathan Mover that guitarist Steve Vai was auditioning drummers for his live band. Mike successfully auditioned for Steve Vai's band and relocated to Los Angeles. From late 1996 to early 2000, Mangini was the highly regarded drummer of Vai's live ensemble, which also included bassist Philip Bynoe, guitar wizard Mike Keneally and (in 2000) guitarist Dave Weiner. Mike recorded several drum tracks for Steve's Fire Garden and The Ultra Zone albums. He also rehearsed and recorded Alive in an Ultra World while on tour with Steve Vai in 2000.
Following the initial suspension of the South American leg of the Ultrazone Tour in 2000, Mangini moved back home to Boston and began teaching at Berklee College as an associate professor. He began working with former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone and bassist Pat Badger in the short-lived band, Tribe of Judah. He also continued to work with Dale Bozzio (formerly of the new wave band, Missing Persons), and recorded several more records. Among these records was a Rush tribute record (entitled Subdivisions) and a second full-length album with Annihilator titled All for You. He also recorded tracks for artists Sal DiFusco, Bill Lonero and Chris Emerson.
In 2005, he accepted a full-time teaching position at the Berklee College of Music in Percussion Department. He resigned in 2010 to join Dream Theater.
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Bare hands (no sticks) in 60 seconds, which he earned by executing 1,138 single stroke notes in April 2002.
Mike was the 1st person in history to break 1,200 notes when he played 1,203 single notes at the 2005 Winter NAMM Session, until Jotan Afanador passed with 1,219 in Puerto Rico. Mike got it back with 1,247 at 2005 Summer NAMM. In July of 2013, Mike asked for his 1,203 record to be re-instated due to its evenness throughout the attempt from which that record was made. Tom Grosset then beat Mike's official 1,203 record with 1,208 strokes in July of that same year.
Traditional Grip which he earned by executing 1,126 single strokes in 60 seconds in 2003, stood for five years before falling to Matt Smith (1,132) in 2008.
Single Stroke Foot record playing 13,222 hits in 15 minutes and 4,555 hits in five minutes, records that stood for two years before falling to Mike "Machine" Mallais (13,309/4,595) in 2007.