Interview with Doro Drummer Johnny Dee By Thomas Amoriello Jr.
Posted by NinaBRR on January 31 2020 05:48:14

International Time Keeper

Interview with Doro Drummer Johnny Dee

By Thomas Amoriello Jr.

Boston Rock Radio




Johnny Dee came to recognition as thee "behind the kit guy" for the Philadelphia based hard rock and "hair metal" band Britny Fox.  The group had some mild success with MTV rotation and a record that went Gold during the remaining days of the 1980's before a major change in their lineup. The Philly rockers also won Metal Edge Magazine's 1988 Reader's Choice Award for Best New Band and toured with Poison.  Before Britny Fox, Johnny toured and recorded with the British group Waysted.  In 1993 he teamed up with ex-Warlock vocalist Doro Pesch and has been the drummer of the band Doro ever since appearing on 7 studio albums and 2 live recordings as well as countless tours worldwide.  You can catch Johnny live this spring with Doro on their USA Tour 2020.  Boston Rock Radio would like to thank Johnny Dee for this exclusive interview.  


You currently serve as the drummer for the legendary German based band Doro and you also wear the hat of tour manager when traveling in the States.  What are some typical logistical details that you have to take care of in preparation for a tour? 

To begin, I have to prepare myself and my gear as I would normally do for a tour. Then I work with management to look at the dates, cities, budget, etc. Then hire a crew. Will we travel by tour bus, sprinter, van, fly (The Doro-Warlock "Triumph & Agony 30 year Anniversary" dates all involved flights, hotels, local transport and rental backline at every show). Preferred mode would be all self-contained. Collect all of our own gear and touring party, throw them in a bus and go. But usually involves flights to at least get everyone to a starting point. I have to book those.  Then I look at routing. Can I work with a coach driver or do the driving myself? I’ve also done some of the driving in the past. We once used a “Bandwagon” (which is a cross between a tour bus and a RV/box truck with no CDL required) to save the cost of a coach and driver. The cab is isolated from the rear living compartment so that was interesting. Felt like a trucker transporting “live” cargo. Took a few turns too hard and got a phone call from the back that the coffee machine (and half the people) went flying across the front lounge!!!  Next, start advancing with each venue to nail down all the details of each show. Sound, lights, time schedules, catering, etc. Collect all info and enter into an itinerary along with guest lists and promo schedules for Doro. I also like to do the graphic tasks like itineraries and designing laminates. Then we order tour merchandise and make sure it gets delivered in time, etc.  Then start the tour…do all of the day to day TM stuff plus a sound check and a 2 hour gig! Try to fit eating and sleeping in there somewhere.


Any do's or don'ts advice to offer to help make an independent tour happen? 

Do: Try to work with a booking agent, a lot of the hard part will be taken care of.   If not, be patient and persistent with contacting venues for shows. Try to secure some “anchor” gigs that pay decent or put you in front of good crowds. Then add what you can to fill in between. 

Do: Be prepared for anything. Keep an open mind, be flexible and be cool with people you come in contact with…you’ll have fun and it can make your show/tour go a whole lot better!

Don’t: Expect too much. The more tickets you can sell, the more bargaining room you have when it comes to your fee and what you can get day of show (food, drinks, etc).



How many passports have you filled up in your career? 

Quite a few. A tour manager lost one of mine once. That sucked. Not only because I lost a book full of cool travel stamps but I had to spend a day off in Germany getting a new one expedited to make the next shows. You don’t get as many stamps since the EU, but Visas (Russia, China, South America, etc) eat up whole pages. It used to be free to add pages, now they get ya for that too. But it’s always a thrill to get a new stamp/visit a country I’ve never been to before. So if you’re doing a big tour, always get extra pages!


As a drummer do you have a regular practice routine to keep up your technique and keep the ideas and stylistic adjustments fresh whether at home or on the road?

I love to work on things when I’m inspired to…never had a strict routine. That probably comes from being self-taught. For me it’s been more rehearsing with a band rather than by myself. I do prepare in advance when I have to learn songs or work on a solo but I also like to improvise a bit live too. Just start a solo (with some set pieces) and see where things go. That can be fun when you have a good crowd response.


Who are some well-known drummers that you consider friends and have inspired you that you have had close ties with during your career? 

One of the drummers from my area that I’ve known the longest (as a friend and a very early influence) is Adam Ferraioli. Adam is a rock solid drummer and he currently plays with the Led Zeppelin tribute Get The Led Out. He was one of the first guys I got to see up close in local rehearsals and clubs to learn from. He even did some time with Britny Fox before me.   Many of the drummers who were huge inspirations I’ve never known as friends. But when I started touring I began meeting many great players who became friends. My first big tour was with Waysted in 1986-87 supporting Iron Maiden and we were treated so well by the band and crew. Nicko McBrain was super cool to me and would always have time for a laugh or a story or some advice. He wrote me a personal recommendation letter (on Maiden stationary - which I still have!) to help me get a Paiste cymbals endorsement! Over the years whenever we see each other, there is always a hug and a laugh to be had. Mikkey Dee I’ve known since 1987. A few more guys I’ve known that long are Fred Coury and Rikki Rockett. Never toured with Fred but we try to meet up whenever I’m in LA. Rikki was an awesome guy to tour with and we’ve remained buds for all these years. With Britny, we had some of the best times on that Poison tour in ’88. Randy Castillo (RIP), Troy Lucketta (Tesla), Simon Wright (Dio), James Kottack (Scorpions/Kingdom Come), Nigel Glockler (Saxon) all guys who I’ve shared stages with who I enjoy seeing every time we have a chance to catch up. Another good friend from Philly is Dave Uosikkinen (The Hooters) who I met much later but has become a good buddy and an inspiration as well. 



What adjustments do you have to make between playing live and recording in a proper studio that perhaps a student drummer may not be privy to?

Playing live can be sort of a “contact sport” at times…whereas things can happen to knock you off your game or really change from show to show. Even the stage sound changing from sound check to show time can be a bit of a distraction. Doro can be very spontaneous on stage and change the set list without warning…so I’ve got to be prepared. We are one of the bands that just go for it live. Maybe never perfect but a ton of energy and fun…the audience always gets a different show.  Currently, many bands play to tracks live and it’s basically like being in the studio anyway. Just recreating the songs exactly the same every show. I think a studio wouldn’t be that foreign to a well-rounded student drummer. Most have some kind of basic recording gear in their homes and know the basics of playing to a click and some type of recording gear. 



You have been on and off the road for over 30 years playing everywhere from small pubs to ginormous European metal festivals and beyond.  What practical advice would you give a drummer in the early stages of their career that perhaps you may have done differently? 

I think the best is to learn by doing. You can study or discuss certain things forever and try to “prepare” but until you actually do it, you don’t really get it. Kind of like driving…you can study and drive around an empty parking lot but what happens when you’re at the wheel of this machine and there are all kinds of obstacles and traffic flying by while trying to pay attention to what you learned in a handbook?!?!   Imagine setting up your beautiful new drum kit perfectly and practicing for your first show then to arrive at the gig to find out you have to use the demolished house kit and set it up 10 minutes before your set starts? Many bands do fly dates at festivals where you get access to the kit when another band comes off stage with it. Sometimes you may not have a tech and have to work on your kit right up till show time which pushes back all your preparation time. Very situation is different, just try to be as prepared as possible and make it happen the best that you can.  It also depends on which level you are touring/performing on. I’ve gone from van tours where you share driving, or try to sleep sitting up, sleeping 2 to a bed in a hotel room, eating nasty truck stop food to nice flights or tour buses with single rooms and excellent catered meals. Try to keep fit, eat as healthy as possible, get your rest and don’t overdo it with the partying.  Be open minded to foreign travel. Don’t stay isolated and only eat McDonalds (I’ve seen American bands do that) Make friends and enjoy the cultural differences. Get out and see some stuff. It can be amazing!


Boston Rock Radio Guest Contributor Thomas Amoriello Jr. is a heavy metal guitarist, children's picture book author, educator and recording artist who resides in Lambertville, New Jersey, USA. You can learn more about Tom at: