I saw Dom Famularo sleep once.
This is a big deal: Dom is the most-followed drum teacher in the world. With 1,600 active students in 30 countries, 60,000 followers on Facebook, and the first global drum school with franchises in three countries and three more on tap, my best -guess estimate is that Dom has given lessons, masterclasses, and clinics to over 1.5 million drummers.
Dom assembled this crowd of students over 40 years— not by just teaching, but by showing up early at the music stores on his 48 countries’ worth of tours, meeting the personnel, hanging with the students before the event, giving a great performance and then continuing to reach out to drummers afterward, often late into the evening. At the same time, he was writing several drum-instruction manuals, setting up one of the earliest internet-based remote instruction studios, recording instructional videos, directing and emcee-ing drum festivals around the world, booking private lessons with those 1,600 students, consulting with drum companies, and making friends with all of the people he works with along the way. Virtually every place he has taught has asked him back.
While he has been doing this, his energy level has been routinely over the top — his positive attitude and good mood explode off the stage, and the high energy continues long after everyone around him has hit the wall. And he does this day after day on about three hours of sleep.
So when did I see him sleep? The day before a big music-industry trade show, a few dozen of us were invited to a big, exhausting corporate banquet. Speeches, band playing, rubber chicken, the works. Most of us were tired after a day of traveling, but Dom was in the middle of one of his barnstorming tours. He had probably crossed twice as many time zones as the rest of us. Driving back to the hotel, our van got lost, and between the six of us no one had a clue how to navigate the gridwork of roads. As we pulled up to yet another intersection in the dark, the driver pointed to Dom in the shotgun seat: “Look! He’s asleep!”
All of us knew Dom. None of us could believe this. The van stood still as everyone leaned forward to see something that, in the days before smartphones and portable cameras, we knew we would never see again: for at least a minute, Dom had taken a break.
Dom claims that there is no secret to this, and he outlines his principles in his motivational book, Cycle of self Empowerment. His success has paved the way for the speaking careers of other drummers who have more to offer than just drumming, including Drummeradio guests Zoro, Mark Schulman, and Rich Redmond.
You won’t see Dom’s name on top-ten music sales charts, but you will certainly see the names of his students. In the meantime, I can’t wait to hear the top-ten tunes that he feels every drummer should hear. There’s a free lesson in this for us.
Listen to the Dom Famularo Podcast
Dom Famularo Playlist
Sing Sing Sing — Benny Goodman
Drums: Gene Krupa
Love for Sale — The Buddy Rich Big Band
Album: Big Swing Face, 1967
Drums: Buddy Rich
Take Five — Dave Brubeck Quartet
Album: Time Out, 1959
Drums: Joe Morello
Stratus — Billy Cobham
Album: Spectrum, 1973
Drums: Billy Cobham
God Bless the Child — Blood, Sweat & Tears
Album: Blood Sweat and Tears, 1968
Drums: Bobby Colomby
Fool in the Rain — Led Zeppelin
Album: In Through the Out Door, 1979
Drums: John Bonham
Rosanna — Toto
Album: Toto IV, 1982
Drums: Jeff Porcaro
What is Hip — Tower of Power
Album: Tower of Power, 1973
Drums: David Garibaldi
Looking at the World — Chick Corea
Album: The Leprechaun, 1993
Drums: Steve Gadd
The Melody Still Lingers On — Chaka Khan
Album: What Cha’ Gonna Do for Me, 1981
Drums: Casey Scheuerell