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Here's a Little Ditty ...

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Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, the Rolling Stones, John Mellencamp, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty.

Not only are they all Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, but they are also among the acts that drummer Kenny Aronoff has performed and recorded with, among countless others, during an illustrious career that has spanned four decades, 10 number-one singles and 30 Grammy-nominated recordings.

Aronoff will showcase his skills on the drums and discuss his career in rock and roll with An Evening with Kenny Aronoff at Butler University's Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts this Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Aronoff playing with John Mellencamp. - COURTESY KENNY ARONOFF
  • Courtesy Kenny Aronoff
  • Aronoff playing with John Mellencamp.

The Indiana University graduate will perform a sampling of the songs he has recorded or performed live, and he'll discuss how he was able to become one of the most sought-after drummers in rock music.

Aronoff, who spent 17 years as Mellencamp's drummer beginning in 1980, credits his values of perseverance and optimism as the reason for being invited to perform and record with a multitude of rock's biggest stars over the course of his career.

"It's from hard work every day, fueled by passion and ongoing education, staying healthy -- mentally, physically and emotionally, learning from my mistakes and looking at life as if the glass is always half-full and not half-empty," Aronoff says.

"It's like being an actor," Aronoff says. "You have to get into the character of the music, and you have to do it quick." - COURTESY KENNY ARONOFF
  • Courtesy Kenny Aronoff
  • "It's like being an actor," Aronoff says. "You have to get into the character of the music, and you have to do it quick."

Last February Aronoff was invited to perform on The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles, a television program commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the band's groundbreaking first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.

The Massachusetts native was inspired to become a rock musician after watching the Beatles during that landmark moment on Feb. 9, 1964. It was fitting for Aronoff to be able to participate in such a tribute to a band, and a night, that left such an impact on him.

"It was an incredibly powerful experience because, at 10 years old, that's what made me want to be a drummer," Aronoff says. "I was watching ... the Beatles on TV, and I wanted to be in the Beatles at 10 years old, but I didn't know how to do that.

He recalls wondering at the time how could he get in the band. He was determined to make it happen.

"So I started my own band at 10 years old, trying to mimic the Beatles. And 50 years later, I'm performing on a show that honored the Beatles for that very exact show that changed my life."

During the tribute, Aronoff played drums during performances by McCartney and Starr, as well as with Dave Grohl, Jeff Lynne, John Mayer and Keith Urban.

Another show Aronoff has performed at for the past six years is the Kennedy Center Honors, for which he has served as the house drummer.

His first time at the ceremony required him to play songs by the Who with rock acts and songs by George Jones with country musicians. Playing such an eclectic range of material with so many performers means Aronoff must be flexible and adapt to each style on the fly, skills that have served him well throughout his career.

"It's like being an actor," Aronoff says. "You have to get into the character of the music, and you have to do it quick."

Aronoff jamming live.  - COURTESY OF KENNY ARONOFF
  • Courtesy of Kenny Aronoff
  • Aronoff jamming live.

Besides recording at his own Los Angeles studio, Uncommon Studios LA, Aronoff's next major performance will be at the White House in November, as part of a salute to the Armed Forces.

But this Friday evening as he performs in Indy, Aronoff hopes that sharing his personal experiences from his music career will help fans maneuver through their own lives and careers more prosperously.

"I'll be talking about how important it is to be able to communicate with people and to network with people," Aronoff explains. "I'll be talking about how to stay healthy mentally, physically and emotionally. All of these things are hopefully to help the people in the audience be successful and have a very fulfilled life."

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