Mike Portnoy

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Mike Portnoy
Twisted Sister - Wacken Open Air 2016-AL3807.jpg
Mike Portnoy in 2016 performing with Twisted Sister.
Background information
Birth nameMichael Stephen Portnoy
Born (1967-04-20) April 20, 1967 (age 52)
Long Beach, New York, U.S.
GenresProgressive metal, heavy metal, progressive rock, hard rock, blues rock
InstrumentsDrums, percussion, vocals
Years active1984–present
Associated actsDream Theater, Transatlantic, Liquid Tension Experiment, Neal Morse, OSI, Avenged Sevenfold, Adrenaline Mob, Stone Sour, Flying Colors, Bigelf, The Winery Dogs, Yellow Matter Custard, G3, Twisted Sister, Metal Allegiance, Sons of Apollo, Haken,

Michael Stephen Portnoy (born April 20, 1967) is an American drummer and songwriter primarily known as the former drummer, backing vocalist, and a co-founder of the progressive metal/rock band Dream Theater. In September 2010, Portnoy announced his departure from Dream Theater after 25 years, with Mike Mangini taking his place as drummer of the band. Since his departure, Portnoy has formed a variety of new bands and projects, including Adrenaline Mob, Flying Colors, The Winery Dogs and Sons of Apollo.


Portnoy was born April 20, 1967 and raised on Long Island in Long Beach, New York.[1] His father, Howard Portnoy (1940–2009), worked as a DJ at a local radio station. Mike and his father later moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea, California to work at KRML radio station after watching the 1971 film "Play Misty for Me".[2] His mother died on November 16, 1984, when the private plane she was riding in, with her boyfriend, crashed off the Atlantic City coastline.[3]

Portnoy's father's job helped him gain an appreciation for music at an early age particularly, as Portnoy has pointed out, because he had access to his father's collection of LPs. He developed a preference for bands including Rush, Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Iron Maiden, and The Beatles, among many others. Portnoy claims to be self-taught as a drummer, though he did take music theory classes in high school. During that period he began playing in local bands, two of which (Rising Power and Inner Sanctum) recorded and released independent albums.

Dream Theater: 1985–2010[edit]

He left Inner Sanctum (his last high school band) after being awarded a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. In university, he met John Petrucci and John Myung. They formed a band, initially taking the name "Majesty" before changing their name to Dream Theater. They left Berklee soon after.[4]

Known for his technical skill as a drummer in Dream Theater, Portnoy has won 30 awards from the Modern Drummer magazine.[5] He co-produced six Dream Theater albums with guitarist John Petrucci, starting from Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory through Black Clouds and Silver Linings and was one of the main songwriters during his tenure. He is the second youngest person (after Neil Peart) to be inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, at 37 years of age.

In the spring of 2010, Portnoy filled in for Avenged Sevenfold's former drummer, Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, who died during the production of the band's fifth album Nightmare. On May 5, 2010, Portnoy released a statement on his status with Avenged Sevenfold on their official website, concluding his working relationship with the band[6] On September 8, 2010, Mike Portnoy announced he would be leaving Dream Theater. The band hired Mike Mangini to take his place after inviting and holding auditions with seven "world-class" drummers.[7] When Avenged Sevenfold later decided to also sever ties with Portnoy,[8] he announced that he had asked to return to Dream Theater, but was turned down by their lawyer[9] since the band had already brought Mangini on board, and Mangini had left his tenured teaching position at Berklee College of Music to join the band.

Former and current projects: 1997–present[edit]

Portnoy is known for his many side projects and tribute bands. He is a founding member of Liquid Tension Experiment, an instrumental progressive rock band featuring fellow Dream Theater members John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess along with bassist Tony Levin. He is also a founding member of Transatlantic, a progressive rock "super-group" featuring former Spock's Beard keyboardist/vocalist Neal Morse, Flower Kings guitarist Roine Stolt and Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas. Portnoy has also recorded and/or toured/performed live with Neal Morse, OSI, Hail!, Stone Sour, Fates Warning, Overkill and G3. Over the years, Portnoy has also created tribute bands to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rush, and The Who, which has allowed him to perform the music of his four favorite drummers.

Since his departure, Portnoy has formed several new bands, starting with Adrenaline Mob, a traditional heavy metal/hard rock band with singer Russell Allen (of Symphony X) and guitarist Mike Orlando.[10] On June 4, 2013, however, Portnoy announced his departure from Adrenaline Mob, citing scheduling conflicts. He is also a founding member of Flying Colors, a progressive rock band also featuring Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Dave LaRue, and Casey McPherson, The Winery Dogs, a power trio also featuring bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) and guitarist Richie Kotzen (formerly of Mr. Big and Poison), and Sons of Apollo, a progressive metal supergroup also featuring Sheehan, Derek Sherinian, Jeff Scott Soto and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal.

Artistry and influences[edit]

Portnoy played John Myung's bass when Dream Theater performed as the fictitious band Nightmare Cinema. Before live performances of "Trial of Tears", he would sometimes switch instruments with John Petrucci and play a fragment of "Eruption" by Van Halen. In Nightmare Cinema he got the "alternate stage name" Max Del Fuvio.

He was seen playing Pink Floyd's Sheep on a sunburst 4-string Music Man Sterling belonging to Myung on The Making of Systematic Chaos. He plays bass guitar and xylophone during a jam by Liquid Trio Experiment 2. He has also contributed lead and harmony vocals to numerous projects.

In the April 2001 edition of Modern Drummer & Mike Portnoy's website, he names Neil Peart, Carl Palmer, Bill Bruford, Terry Bozzio, Billy Cobham, Alan White, Stewart Copeland, Phil Collins, Chester Thompson, Simon Phillips, Nick D'Virgilio, Andy Sturmer, Dave Lombardo, Jon Fishman, Vinnie Colaiuta, Peter Criss, Ringo Starr, Tommy Lee, John Bonham, Lars Ulrich and Keith Moon as influences.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Portnoy and his wife Marlene (née Apuzzo) live in Upper Saucon Township in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania with their children, Melody Ruthandrea and Max John. Marlene used to be a guitarist in the all-female band Meanstreak, and two of the other members, guitarist Rena Sands and bassist Lisa Martens, are married to Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung, respectively.

Max, like his father Mike, is a drummer. His band Next to None opened for Adrenaline Mob in Atlanta on April 6, 2013.[12] As of December 26, 2017 Max currently plays drums in his new band Tallah.[13]

Portnoy is a recovering alcoholic and has openly talked about it. The five-song set Twelve-step Suite deals with his experience of alcoholism. He quit drinking in April 2000 after the final show on Dream Theater's Scenes from a Memory tour.


Dream Theater
Flying Colours
Sons of Apollo
The Winery Dogs


  1. ^ Portnoy, Mike (2009). "The Mike Portnoy Official Website/biography". Portnoy Official Website. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLRo9RT539k
  3. ^ Portnoy, Mike (30 June 2015). "PLEASE TAKE 2 MINUTES TO READ THIS POST….IT JUST MAY CHANGE YOUR LIFE!". Mike Portnoy's official Facebook page. Facebook. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  4. ^ Reesman, Bryan. "An Interview with Twisted Sister: The Fire Still Burns". www.theaquarian.com. Arts Weekly, Inc. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  5. ^ bravewords.com. "MIKE PORTNOY Wins 30th Modern Drummer Readers Poll Award - "I Am Beyond Grateful, Appreciative And Humbled"". bravewords.com. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  6. ^ "MIKE PORTNOY WILL BE DRUMMING WITH A7X". Avenged Sevenfold. 2010-07-31. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-10-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ "It's Official: MIKE MANGINI Is New DREAM THEATER Drummer". BlabberMouth. 2011-04-29.
  8. ^ Mike Portnoy (2010-12-16). "Mike Portnoy Confirms, "My Time With Avenged Sevenfold Has Come To An End."". Deathbat News.
  9. ^ "Mike Portnoy Told He Can't Come Back To Dream Theater". anthonybest.com. 2010-12-20. Archived from the original on 2016-08-04. Retrieved 2014-10-03. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  10. ^ "MIKE PORTNOY, RUSSELL ALLEN, RICH WARD, MIKE ORLANDO Join Forces In ADRENALINE MOB". Archived from the original on 2011-06-19. Retrieved 2011-06-16. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. ^ "Mike Portnoy.com The Official Website". Mikeportnoy.com. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
  12. ^ "MIKE PORTNOY's Son's Band NEXT TO NONE Supports ADRENALINE MOB In Atlanta; Video Available". Bravewords.com. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  13. ^ https://twitter.com/MaxPortnoy_/status/945781881844445186 Twitter.com. Retrieved 2018-01-20.

External links[edit]