Mike Portnoy

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Mike Portnoy
Portnoy performing in October 2017
Portnoy performing in October 2017
Background information
Birth nameMichael Stephen Portnoy
Also known asMP [1]
Born (1967-04-20) April 20, 1967 (age 57)
Long Beach, New York, U.S.
  • Drums
  • vocals
Years active1984–present
Member of
Formerly of

Michael Stephen Portnoy[2] (born April 20, 1967) is an American musician who is primarily known as the drummer, backing vocalist, and co-founder of the progressive metal 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. In October 2023, 13 years after his departure, the band announced his return. During his time out of Dream Theater, Portnoy remained active, with a variety of bands and projects, including Adrenaline Mob, Avenged Sevenfold, Transatlantic, Yellow Matter Custard, Flying Colors, The Winery Dogs, Liquid Tension Experiment, Metal Allegiance, Sons of Apollo, the Neal Morse Band, and BPMD.

Early life[edit]

Portnoy was born on April 20, 1967 in Long Beach, New York.[3] He is Jewish.[4] 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.[5] His mother died on November 16, 1984, when the private plane she was riding in, with her boyfriend, crashed off the Atlantic City coastline.[6]

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, 2023-present[edit]

Portnoy performing with Dream Theater in August 2007

Portnoy left Inner Sanctum, his last high school band, after being awarded a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, 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.[7]

Known for his technical skill as a drummer in Dream Theater, Portnoy has won 31 awards from the Modern Drummer magazine.[8] 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; he was also 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.

Portnoy with Avenged Sevenfold in 2010

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.[9]

In September 2010, Portnoy announced he was leaving Dream Theater. The band hired Mike Mangini to take his place after inviting and holding auditions with seven "world-class" drummers.[10]

Avenged Sevenfold chose not to continue working with Portnoy after the Nightmare tour was completed, in part due to the significant controversy surrounding his departure from Dream Theater.[11][5] Following this, Portnoy announced that he asked to return to Dream Theater, but was turned down by their lawyer[12] as the band had already brought Mangini fully onboard and he had left his tenured teaching position at Berklee College of Music to join the band.[13]

On October 25, 2023, Dream Theater announced that Mike Portnoy was returning to the band.[14]

Former and current projects: 1997–2023[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. Outside of Transatlantic, Portnoy has worked with Neal Morse extensively, appearing on most of his solo albums. He is a member of The Neal Morse Band, featuring guitarist/vocalist Eric Gillette, bassist Randy George, and second keyboardist/vocalist Bill Hubauer. Portnoy has also recorded and/or toured/performed live with Umphrey's McGee, OSI, Hail!, Stone Sour, Fates Warning, Overkill and G3. Over the years, Portnoy has created tribute bands to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rush, and the Who.[15]

After his departure from Dream Theater, Portnoy 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.[16] On June 4, 2013, however, Portnoy announced his departure from Adrenaline Mob, citing scheduling conflicts.[17]

Portnoy is a founding member of Flying Colors, a progressive rock band also featuring Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Dave LaRue, and Casey McPherson.

He also founded The Winery Dogs, a power trio also featuring bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) and guitarist Richie Kotzen (formerly of Mr. Big and Poison); Sons of Apollo, a progressive metal supergroup also featuring Sheehan, Derek Sherinian, Jeff Scott Soto and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal; Metal Allegiance, a thrash metal/groove metal band also featuring Mark Menghi, David Ellefson (Megadeth) and Alex Skolnick (Testament); and BPMD, a supergroup/cover band also featuring Menghi, Phil Demmel (Vio-lence) and Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth (Overkill). He was also a member of PSMS, with Tony Macalpine, Billy Sheehan and Derek Sherinian.

Portnoy with Twisted Sister in 2016

Portnoy also drummed with Twisted Sister from 2015 to 2016, following the death of longtime drummer A. J. Pero.[18] He also played with the band at their on off performance in 2023.[19]

Artistry and influences[edit]

In the April 2001 edition of Modern Drummer and Portnoy's website, he names Neil Peart, Ringo Starr, John Bonham and Keith Moon as influences.[20]

Portnoy played 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 went by the stage name "Max Del Fuvio".[21]

Portnoy played bass guitar and xylophone during a song on Liquid Tension Experiment 2. He has also contributed lead and harmony vocals to numerous projects.[citation needed]

Progressive Nation[edit]

Portnoy with Transatlantic in July 2014

In 2008, Portnoy organized a tour called Progressive Nation. Dream Theater headlined the touring festival and were joined by Opeth, Between the Buried and Me and 3. Portnoy stated, "I've been wanting to assemble a package tour like this for many years now. With all of the festivals and package tours that go through America, I've been talking with our manager and agent for over 10 years now about doing something that focuses on the more progressive, musician-oriented side of hard rock and metal. I decided it was time to stop talking the talk, lace up and finally walk the walk."[22]

In 2009, the tour returned with Dream Theater headlining once more and joined by Zappa Plays Zappa, Pain of Salvation, and Beardfish.[23]

In 2014, Portnoy rebooted Progressive Nation as a 4 day cruising music festival called Progressive Nation at Sea. The event took place on the Norwegian Pearl on February 18-22, 2014 sailing from Miami, FL to the Bahamas. Portnoy organized the cruise with help from Derek Sherinian, and music festival company, Sixthman. Portnoy performed in three different bands on the cruise, Transatlantic, Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine, Sherinian (PSMS), and Bigelf. Also rounding out the cruise were a large number of other progressive rock artists, Jon Anderson, Adrian Belew's Power Trio, Devin Townsend Project, King's X, Spock's Beard, The Flower Kings, Pain of Salvation, Anathema, Riverside, Periphery, Animals as Leaders, The Safety Fire, Tony Harnell & Bumblefoot, Beardfish, The Dear Hunter, Haken, Jolly, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Mark Mikel, and his son, Max Portnoy's band, Next to None. Portnoy describes what the cruise was like: “Progressive Nation at Sea still remains one of my proudest career memories…at the time, music cruises were just beginning to blossom and to be given the opportunity to assemble such an amazing lineup was a dream come true for me".[24]

Since Progressive Nation at Sea 2014, Portnoy went on to join forces with another cruising progressive rock music festival, Cruise to the Edge, to merge the vision and musical lineups. CTTE has been sailing annually since then.[24]

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 (born May 3, 1997)[25] and Max John (born March 7, 1999).[26] Marlene is [27] one of the guitarists for Meanstreak, and two of the other members, the other guitarist, Rena Sands, and the bassist, Lisa Martens, are married to Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung, respectively.

Max Portnoy, like his father Mike, is a drummer. His band Next to None opened for Adrenaline Mob in Atlanta on April 6, 2013.[28] As of December 26, 2017, Max is playing drums in his new band Tallah.[29] With a post he published on his official Instagram account on October 14, he revealed that he is the new drummer of the band Code Orange too.[30]

Portnoy is a recovering addict and has openly discussed it. The five song set Twelve-step Suite deals with his experience of substance abuse. He edged away from alcohol and drugs in April 2000 and has remained sober since then.[31]


Portnoy endorses Tama drums, Sabian cymbals, Promark drumsticks and Remo drumheads. Though Portnoy is mainly a drummer and backing vocalist he also contributes lead vocals,[32] bass guitar[33][34] and keyboards.


Dream Theater
Liquid Tension Experiment
Liquid Trio Experiment
Avenged Sevenfold
Neal Morse
The Neal Morse Band
Flying Colors
John Petrucci
Adrenaline Mob
Metal Allegiance
  • Metal Allegiance (2015)
  • Fallen Heroes (2016)
  • Volume II: Power Drunk Majesty (2018)
Sons of Apollo
The Winery Dogs
John Arch
Between the Buried and Me


  1. ^ "Happy New Year from MP & JP! @MikePortnoy @JPetrucci - @mikeportnoy". Retrieved January 21, 2024.
  2. ^ Da Silva, George Batista (October 3, 2017). Nomes Batismais. Clube de Autores.
  3. ^ "Mike Portnoy Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved July 8, 2023.
  4. ^ Mike Portnoy [@MikePortnoy] (September 26, 2018). "I am...but I put the "ISH" in Jew-ish!! 😂😂😂" (Tweet). Retrieved March 1, 2023 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ a b Mike Portnoy - Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?. Loudwire. April 1, 2015. Archived from the original on June 3, 2022. Retrieved December 1, 2022 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ Portnoy, Mike (June 30, 2015). "PLEASE TAKE 2 MINUTES TO READ THIS POST….IT JUST MAY CHANGE YOUR LIFE!". Mike Portnoy's official Facebook page. Facebook. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  7. ^ Reesman, Bryan. "An Interview with Twisted Sister: The Fire Still Burns". www.theaquarian.com. Arts Weekly, Inc. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  8. ^ "MIKE PORTNOY Wins 30th Modern Drummer Readers Poll Award - "I Am Beyond Grateful, Appreciative And Humbled"". Bravewords.com. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  9. ^ "MIKE PORTNOY WILL BE DRUMMING WITH A7X". Avenged Sevenfold. July 31, 2010. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  10. ^ "It's Official: MIKE MANGINI Is New DREAM THEATER Drummer". BlabberMouth.net. April 29, 2011.
  11. ^ Mike Portnoy (December 16, 2010). "Mike Portnoy Confirms, 'My Time With Avenged Sevenfold Has Come To An End.'". Deathbat News.
  12. ^ "Mike Portnoy Told He Can't Come Back To Dream Theater". Anthonybest.com. December 20, 2010. Archived from the original on August 4, 2016. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  13. ^ "Interview: Dream Theater's John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess on the band's future". musicradar.com. May 11, 2011.
  14. ^ "Dream Theater announce the return of drummer Mike Portnoy". Dream Theater. October 25, 2023. Retrieved October 25, 2023.
  15. ^ Amazing Journey - Paul Gilbert/Mike Portnoy/Billy Sheehan/Gary Cherone - Young Man Blues. winrar. August 22, 2010. Archived from the original on July 30, 2022. Retrieved December 1, 2022 – via YouTube.
  16. ^ "MIKE PORTNOY, RUSSELL ALLEN, RICH WARD, MIKE ORLANDO Join Forces In ADRENALINE MOB". Archived from the original on June 19, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  17. ^ "DRUMMER MIKE PORTNOY LEAVES ADRENALINE MOB". eddietrunk.com. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  18. ^ Hartmann, Graham (December 8, 2015). "Mike Portnoy on Twisted Sister + Honoring A.J. Pero". Loudwire. Retrieved April 12, 2024.
  19. ^ Horsley, Jonathan (January 27, 2023). "Watch Twisted Sister reunite with Mike Portnoy on drums and blaze through three classics at the Metal Hall Of Fame". MusicRadar. Retrieved April 12, 2024.
  20. ^ "Mike Portnoy". Mike Portnoy.
  21. ^ "Who are the Del Fuvio Monks?". The Dream Theater World. January 3, 2016. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  22. ^ "Progressive Nation 2008 - Press Release". dreamtheater.net. Dream Theater. November 5, 2007. Archived from the original on May 10, 2008. Retrieved May 11, 2008.
  23. ^ "PROGRESSIVE NATIONS 2009 – NORTH AMERICAN SUMMER TOUR". Jordan Rudess.com. February 13, 2009. Retrieved December 15, 2023.
  24. ^ a b >"Progressive Nation at Sea sets sail 5 years ago". The Prog Report. February 20, 2019. Retrieved December 15, 2023.
  25. ^ "HAPPY 20TH BIRTHDAY TO @MelodyPortnoy!!!! - @mikeportnoy". X.com. Retrieved January 21, 2024.
  26. ^ "Happy 18th Birthday to my Mini-Me @maxportnoy!!". Instagram.com. Retrieved January 21, 2024.
  27. ^ "Reunited Meanstreak Release First Song in Over 30 Years, Announce 'Blood Moon' EP". Loudwire.com. Retrieved January 16, 2024.
  28. ^ "MIKE PORTNOY's Son's Band NEXT TO NONE Supports ADRENALINE MOB In Atlanta; Video Available". Bravewords.com. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
  29. ^ Portnoy, Max [@MaxPortnoy_] (December 26, 2017). "My new band @TallahBand will be playing @saintvitusbar in Brooklyn, New York, January 7th for our first show ever! COME HANG OUT! https://t.co/XgNpZHMjaL" (Tweet). Archived from the original on June 8, 2022. Retrieved December 1, 2022 – via Twitter.
  30. ^ "MUD MAX on Instagram: "MUD MAX."". Instagram. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  31. ^ Graham Hartmann (June 29, 2017). "Mike Portnoy on Battling Alcoholism: Doctors Told Me I Wouldn't Live to See 40 Years Old". LoudWire.com. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  32. ^ Portnoy, Mike [@MikePortnoy] (May 6, 2020). "MANY lead vocals through the years...search these on YouTube: • Sons of Apollo - Comfortably Numb • Transatlantic - A Salty Dog • Dream Theater - Best Of Times (Demo) • Flying Colors - Repentance (Live) And tune in on Saturday for the @theprogreport #progathome concert 😉😎 https://t.co/UGgKMl2CoO" (Tweet). Archived from the original on August 11, 2022. Retrieved December 1, 2022 – via Twitter.
  33. ^ Mike Portnoy Plays Guitar Bass ••• Live at Morsefest 2020. Zafea House. October 23, 2020. Archived from the original on August 11, 2022. Retrieved December 1, 2022 – via YouTube.
  34. ^ "TransAtlantic Winds". www.planetizz.net. Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  35. ^ Owen, Matt (June 25, 2021). "Between The Buried And Me announce new album Colors II, recruit Mike Portnoy for thunderous lead single, Fix the Error". guitarworld. Retrieved August 30, 2021.

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