Virgil Donati

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Virgil Donati
Virgil Donati.jpg
Background information
Born (1958-10-22) 22 October 1958 (age 61)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
GenresInstrumental rock, hard rock, pop rock, progressive metal, neoclassical metal, jazz fusion
InstrumentsDrums, keyboards
Years active1972–present
Associated actsPlanet X, Ring of Fire, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai, CAB, The State, Southern Sons, Derek Sherinian, Tribal Tech, Michel Polnareff, Soul SirkUS, Scott Henderson, Tony MacAlpine, U.K., Kazumi Watanabe

Virgil Donati (born 22 October 1958) is an Australian drummer, frequent drum clinician and a producer. He is currently playing with Icefish and his own various bands among other projects. Virgil is perhaps most well known for his fast, highly technical drumming skills. He holds the drum sticks in the traditional style and is also proficient at the keyboard. Donati also performed with Jack Jones (Irwin Thomas) in a Van Halen tribute band in Melbourne known as Hans Valen prior to the bands The State and Southern Sons.

Early life and career[edit]

Virgil Donati was born in Melbourne, Victoria of Italian descent.[1] He got his first drumset at age 2.[2] He started playing soon after with his father's showband, and kept on doing these shows until he was around 6 years old. At age 6 he started taking piano lessons.[3] He joined his first major rock band and signed with his first major record label at the age of 15. The band was first called Cloud Nine, but was later renamed Taste, with whom he recorded 3 albums.[2][4] Soon after at age 16, Donati left school focusing mainly on the drums, but also piano. At age 19 Donati travelled to the U.S. to study with Philly Joe Jones, and at Dick Groves School in Los Angeles. He also took lessons from snare drum specialist Murray Spivack and Rob Carson.[5]

Success and bands[edit]

Donati returned to Australia at the age of 21. He then performed jazz with Allan Zavod and Brian Brown, and rocked with Peter Cupples' band.[6]


With his father's choice of records, including Louie Bellson and Buddy Rich albums, Donati quickly became a fan of those great jazz drummers, trying to emulate their solos. The first rock drummer to make a big impact on him was Ian Paice of Deep Purple. Donati said, "I was blown away with his playing, his clarity. Back in the early ‘70s he seemed to be an articulate drummer with a lot of soul in his playing. I loved his power and strength and the way he articulated his phrasing. I loved his approach."[7] In an interview with Modern Drummer magazine, the issue of which came out in 1999, Donati prefers playing with traditional grip. He said, "I decided that it's just how I wanted to play... There are times when, believe it or not, traditional grip feels better on my left hand than on my right... Traditional grip doesn't limit me in any way. That said, I would not necessarily recommend traditional grip. It is a far more difficult grip to get used to and to develop power with. Any student serious about learning this instrument would be better off focusing on matched. Still, because it's not used very much today, traditional grip seems to be more hip."[citation needed]



  • Stretch (1995, Musos Publications)
  • Just Add Water (1997, Thunder Drum Records)
  • Serious Young Insects (On The Virg band) (1999, Vorcity Music)
  • Made In Australia (Gambale, Donati, Fierabracci) (2007, Wombat Records)
  • In This Life (2013, Self-released)
  • The Dawn of Time: Orchestral Works (2016, Self-released)
  • Ruination (2019, Self-released)[8]

With Planet X[edit]

With Ring of Fire[edit]

  • The Oracle (2001, Avalon Records)
  • Burning Live Tokyo (2002, Frontiers, Marquee)
  • Dreamtower (2002, Frontiers)
  • Lapse of Reality (2004, King Records)

Jane Rutter[edit]

Blo (re-released as Titania's Dream with Peter Bowman)

With Southern Sons[edit]

With The State[edit]

  • Elementary (1989)

With Icefish[edit]

  • Human Hardware (2017)




  1. ^ "Virgil Donati Biography". Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  2. ^ a b "". Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  3. ^ "Virgil Donati - isyourteacher". Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Encyclopedia entry for 'Taste'". Worldwide Home of Australasian Music and More Online. Archived from the original on 9 August 2004. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  5. ^ "Virgil Donati". Drummerworld. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Southern Sons". Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  7. ^ "» Virgil Donati Biography | Famous Drummers". Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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