Since my mother, Ruth Hanrahan, discovered my sense of rhythm on a tambourine at the age of 3, I was summoned to be a musician. My oldest brother, Michael Hanrahan, brought home a recording of "Mumbles" and played it over and over, which unknowingly at the time, struck my ear as pleasing, with a natural groove.From there I was hooked. I started taking piano lessons at 9, but my brother Curt convinced my parents that drums were destined to be my calling. At age 11, I took drum lessons and launched my percussion career.
My first professional dates were in my home town of Kenosha, WI at the age of 12. I performed with my mother, Ruth on piano, for church festivals and other engagements. My teacher, Manny Mitka, was a staunch motivator and he inspired me to spend many hours on my practice pad to the delight of my family. I shared a small home with 4 older siblings, Michael, Phyllis, Curt and Jeanine, along with two very loving parents, Ruth and Emery. Once I received my first drum set, my family was not so delighted anymore.You see I did not have a bedroom, so I had to play in the living room and wait until everyone was out of the house to get a true workout on my set. Playing along with albums on our overburdened Magnavox stereo was a complete joy. Neighbors told me our house literally shook when I played and I thought that was so cool!!!!!!.
I fell in love with music during my CYO band experience, which propelled me into performing in all different settings. I went to Jamey Aebersold Summer Camp 3 years in a row to satisfy my need for jazz exposure. By the age of 16, I was teaching at CYO Band Camps and playing with my brother, Curt Hanrahan, in his group called Opus. We were experimenting with jazz/fusion, standards and originals and playing major venues, like the PAC in Milwaukee and the world's largest outdoor music festival known as "Summer Fest"!
During high school I played with every music group I could. I performed with marvelous players who are still working extensively in the music industry today. We had a group called "People Inc ", which was later renamed "C.O.M.B.O ". Dan Fornero, now a highly demanded trumpet player in Los Angeles, coined the latter name, and it will be forever lovingly remembered as an acronym for: Creative-Ostentatious-Musicians-Biblious-Omnipresence. Go figure that one! More excitement happened in the Tremper Blue Jazz Ensemble, when I played for Woody Herman celebrating his 40th year in the music business. It was a PBS taped special and a great opportunity to jam with some major jazz artists. Mr Herman complimented my solo on " Magic Flea " and that gave me the gumption to set the world on fire, two sticks at a time, of course!!
I went to the University of Wisconsin at Parkside and recorded my first album called "VahooVah" under the direction of Tim Bell. I used this experience to set my sights for furthering my education at North Texas State University, where I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Jazz Studies in 1984. I made 2 more recordings there and played on several occasions with the world famous, 1:00 Lab Band under the direction of Neil Slater. After paying some road dues I landed a gig with the Glenn Miller Orchestra!!
With Glenn Miller I gained maturity and experience that no other option could have provided for me. I met some of the world's top players and had the opportunity to befriend them and experience the essence of music.Drumming in a big band and reaping the rewards of kicking 16 + musicians in the butt,is a gratifying thrill. There is nothing more satisfying then popping each note together with musical precision and deep rooted feeling. I " God it " in everything I do and I thank God every day for the humbling chance to " Groove it " !!
When I left Glenn Miller, after 2 years touring internationally, I joined the S.S Norway Big Band and backed hundreds of artists. I love sight reading and playing shows. With drums, you have all the components to stir the soup and feed everyone with musical enjoyment. From the ship, I was convinced to settle in Florida in 1988. Here I have accompanied such names as Tony Bennett, Paul Anka, Billy Joel, Clark Terry, Keely Smith, John Davidson, Vanessa Williams and so many others.I've performed with numerous musicals, including Chicago, Godspell, West Side Story and Ain't Misbehavin and with groups like,The Drifters, The Duprees, The Shirelles to name a few. I have also worked with legends like, Milton Berle, Danny Thomas, Sid Caesar, Skitch Henderson and the beat goes on...
My latest CD release was dedicated to my mother Ruth Hanrahan, a swingin' pianist that could not be matched, and is now appearing with the Choir Of Angels. She is accompanied by Emery Hanrahan, her eternal partner and biggest fan. He can be heard clapping along with "Ruthy", teasingly out of tempo. The CD was recorded with my brother Curt and is available on the blujazz.com label as well as this Web Site. It is called " To Be Again " , which is aptly titled, since I rededicated my life to my one and only love, Maryann Hanrahan!!!
Music is my life and I am in it hook, line and sinker. I hope you enjoy my contributions on this site and by the Grace of God I am eagerly looking for new musical challenges to help spread the groove. I love to enrich people's lives with joyful noise, and I plan to continue this musical journey without missing a beat!!!!