Colaiuta with Jeff Beck at the Palais, Melbourne,
January 26, 2009
|Birth name||Vincent Colaiuta|
February 5, 1956 |
Brownsville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Genres||Jazz, fusion, rock, funk, post bop, pop, thrash metal, heavy metal|
|Associated acts||Frank Zappa, Sting, Eric Clapton, Lynda Thomas, Chick Corea, Jeff Beck, Herbie Hancock, Tal Wilkenfeld, Five Peace Band, Megadeth, Nik Kershaw|
|Heuer Drums, Paiste Formula 602 Modern Essentials|
Vincent "Vinnie" Colaiuta (born February 5, 1956) is an American drummer based in Los Angeles. Originally from Republic, Pennsylvania, he began playing drums as a child and received his first full drum kit from his parents at the age of fourteen.
After attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston for a year, Colaiuta had his first big break as a member of the Christopher Morris Band in 1976–1977. Playing and recording with the Christopher Morris Band (MCA 2282) in 1977, Colaiuta relocated with the band to Los Angeles. After leaving the Christopher Morris Band, he made a mediocre living playing with lounge bands.
His next break came in April 1978 at age 22, after auditioning for Frank Zappa. The audition entailed performing "The Black Page". Colaiuta went on to work with Zappa as his principal drummer for studio and live performances. He played on the successful Zappa albums Tinsel Town Rebellion, Joe's Garage, and Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar. Joe's Garage was named one of the top-25 drumming performances of all time in a 1993 Modern Drummer article.
Steve Vai related a story about Colaiuta's virtuosity with Zappa's band during the '80s:
"He's one of the most amazing sight-readers that ever existed on the instrument. One day we were in a Frank rehearsal, this was early '80s, and Frank brought in this piece of music called "Mo 'N Herb's Vacation." Just unbelievably complex. All the drums were written out, just like "The Black Page" except even more complex. There were these runs of like 17 over 3 and every drumhead is notated differently. And there were a whole bunch of people there, I think Bozzio was there. Vinnie had this piece of music on the stand to his right. To his left he had another music stand with a plate of sushi on it, okay? Now the tempo of the piece was very slow, like "The Black Page." And then the first riff came in, [mimics bizarre Zappa-esque drum rhythm patterns] with all these choking of cymbals, and hi-hat, riffs, spinning of rototoms and all this crazy stuff. And I saw Vinnie reading this thing. Now, Vinnie has this habit of pushing his glasses up with the middle finger of his right hand. Well I saw him look at this one bar of music, it was the last bar of music on the page. He started to play it as he was turning the page with one hand, and then once the page was turned he continued playing the riff with his right hand, as he reached over with his left hand, grabbed a piece of sushi and put it in his mouth, continued the riff with his left hand and feet, pushed his glasses up, and then played the remaining part of the bar. It was the slickest thing I have ever seen. Frank threw his music up in the air. Bozzio turned around and walked away. I just started laughing."
In 1990, Colaiuta successfully auditioned as drummer in Sting's touring band in support of his album The Soul Cages. Colaiuta remained as a member of Sting's band for the next seven years. He declined the offer to go out on the road for the Brand New Day tour in 1999 due to the considerable length of a typical Sting world tour. His studio work with Sting can be heard on Ten Summoner's Tales (1993), Mercury Falling (1996), three songs on Brand New Day (1999) and two songs on Sacred Love (2003). On October 21, 2011, Colaiuta rejoined Sting's tour band for performing on the Back to Bass Tour.
Colaiuta released a self-titled solo recording in 1994, and still remains one of the most in demand studio musicians playing on countless albums, film soundtracks, TV and radio jingles. He has won a total of 18 Drummer of the Year awards from Modern Drummer magazine's annual reader polls. These include 10 awards in the "Best Overall" category.
2000 to present
In 2004, Colaiuta played drums on the film score of Elektra as director Rob Bowman is a great fan of his. In 2006-07, Colaiuta toured with Jeff Beck and Tal Wilkenfeld on bass, with Jason Rebello playing keyboards, in Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. He recorded and toured with Faith Hill, recorded with the thrash metal outfit Megadeth on their album The System Has Failed, and toured with Jeff Beck and Herbie Hancock.
Colaiuta has endorsed Remo Drumheads throughout his career, playing mostly Coated Ambassador batter heads, Clear Ambassador resonant heads, and a Smooth White Powerstroke 3 on the bass drum. In his earlier career, he played Yamaha Drums. He switched to Gretsch Drums in 2007 (though it was rumored that he had recorded with them since 1993), and to Ludwig Drums soon afterwards in 2012. In 2013, Colaiuta dropped his Ludwig endorsement. As of January 2015, he plays a custom-made Maple kit made by private craftsman Chris Heuer under the Heuer brand. Colaiuta was a prominent Zildjian Cymbals endorser, having contributed to the development of the A Custom Series. In 2012 he switched to Paiste, assisting with the development of the Formula 602 Modern Essentials line of cymbals. As Colaiuta switched from Zildjian to Paiste, he abandoned his Zildjian Artist Series drumsticks. In 2013, Vic Firth released a signature stick for him, the SVC. Colaiuta has left behind a Yamaha Recording Custom drumset, a Gretsch Signature Snare and Signature Maple Drum Set, the A Custom Cymbals, and the Zildjian Vinnie Colaiuta Artist Series Drumsticks as developed products from previous endorsements. 
With Frank Zappa
- Joe's Garage (1979)
- Saarbrucken (1979)
- Tinseltown Rebellion (1981)
- Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar (1981)
- The Man From Utopia (1983)
- Guitar (1988)
- Any Way the Wind Blows (1991)
- Strictly Commercial (1995)
- You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (1988)
- You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 (1991)
- You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 (1992)
- The Lost Episodes (1996)
- Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute (1996)
- Have I Offended Someone? (1997)
- Son of Cheep Thrills (1999)
- Halloween (2003)
- Trance-Fusion (2006)
- Buffalo (2007)
With Joni Mitchell
- Wild Things Run Fast (1982)
- Dog Eat Dog (1985)
- Night Ride Home (1991)
- Hits (1996)
- Misses (1996)
- Songs of a Prairie Girl (2005)
- Acoustic Live in Newcastle" (1992)
- Ten Summoner's Tales (1993)
- Mercury Falling (1996)
- Brand New Day (1999)
- Sacred Love (2003)
- The System Has Failed (2004)
- Colaiuta, Vinnie (February 26, 2013). "Vinnie Colaiuta Plays Paiste Formula 602 Modern Essentials". Paiste Artist Vinnie Colaiuta discusses the Paiste Formula 602 Modern Essentials line. This video features an in-depth interview and in-studio performance footage. Paiste. pp. Documentary by Colaiuta promoting Paiste. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
- Official site; accessed October 26, 2014.
- Allmusic Review [http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p65477; accessed October 26, 2014.
- Interview with Colaiuta in Modern Drummer, vinniecolaiuta.com; accessed October 26, 2014.
- Profile, drummerworld.com; accessed October 26, 2014.