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Mike Portnoy in 2016 performing with Twisted Sister.
|Michael Stephen Portnoy|
April 20, 1967 |
Long Beach, New York, U.S.
|Genres||Progressive metal, heavy metal, progressive rock, hard rock, blues rock|
|Instruments||Drums, percussion, vocals|
|Dream Theater, Transatlantic, Liquid Tension Experiment, Neal Morse, OSI, Avenged Sevenfold, Adrenaline Mob, Stone Sour, Flying Colors, Bigelf, The Winery Dogs, Yellow Matter Custard, G3, Twisted Sister, Metal Allegiance, Sons of Apollo|
Michael Stephen Portnoy (born April 20, 1967) is an American drummer primarily known as the former drummer, backing vocalist, and a co-founder of the progressive metal/rock band Dream Theater. Known for his technical skill as a drummer, Portnoy has won 30 awards from the Modern Drummer magazine. He co-produced six Dream Theater albums with guitarist John Petrucci, starting from Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory through Black Clouds and Silver Linings. From A Change of Seasons onwards, Portnoy had been writing a significant amount of Dream Theater's lyrics. He is the second youngest person (after Neil Peart) to be inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, at 37 years of age.
Besides his work with Dream Theater, Portnoy is known for his many side projects and tribute bands. He is a founding member of Liquid Tension Experiment, an instrumental progressive rock band featuring fellow Dream Theater members John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess along with bassist Tony Levin. He is also a founding member of Transatlantic, a progressive rock "super-group" featuring former Spock's Beard keyboardist/vocalist Neal Morse, Flower Kings guitarist Roine Stolt and Marillion bassist Pete Trewavas. Portnoy has also recorded and/or toured/performed live with Neal Morse, OSI, Hail!, Stone Sour, Fates Warning, Overkill, G3 and played on Avenged Sevenfold's album Nightmare in place of their late drummer, The Rev. Over the years, Portnoy has also created tribute bands to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rush, and The Who, which has allowed him to perform the music of his four favorite drummers.
In September 2010, Portnoy announced his departure from Dream Theater after 25 years. He was replaced by Mike Mangini. Since leaving Dream Theater, Portnoy has formed several new bands. The first, Adrenaline Mob, a traditional heavy metal/hard rock band with singer Russell Allen (of Symphony X) and guitarist Mike Orlando. On June 4, 2013, however, Portnoy announced his departure from Adrenaline Mob, citing scheduling conflicts. He is also a founding member of Flying Colors, a progressive rock band also featuring Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Dave LaRue, and Casey McPherson; The Winery Dogs, a power trio also featuring bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) and guitarist Richie Kotzen (formerly of Mr. Big and Poison); and Sons of Apollo, a progressive metal supergroup also featuring Sheehan, Derek Sherinian, Jeff Scott Soto and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal.
Portnoy was born April 20, 1967 and raised on Long Island in Long Beach, New York. His father, Howard Portnoy, worked as a DJ at a local radio station. Mike and his father later moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea, California to work at KRML radio station after watching the 1971 film "Play Misty for Me". His mother died on November 16, 1984, when the private plane she was riding in, with her boyfriend, crashed off the Atlantic City coastline.
Portnoy's father's job helped him gain an appreciation for music at an early age particularly, as Portnoy has pointed out, because he had access to his father's collection of LPs. He developed a preference for bands including Rush, Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Iron Maiden, and The Beatles, among many others. Portnoy claims to be self-taught as a drummer, though he did take music theory classes in high school. During that period he began playing in local bands, two of which (Rising Power and Inner Sanctum) recorded and released independent albums. He left Inner Sanctum (his last high school band) after being awarded a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, he met John Petrucci and John Myung. They formed a band, initially taking the name "Majesty" before changing their name to Dream Theater. They left Berklee soon after.
On May 5, 2010, Portnoy released a statement on his status with Avenged Sevenfold on their official website: "Although I wish I could stay on board with Avenged in a more permanent capacity, the reality is that I am committed to Dream Theater as my main priority and I will need to resume work with them to start a new album at some point in 2011.....However, I will be able to join my brothers in Avenged Sevenfold for at least the duration of their touring throughout 2010.....You can look at me like the band's 'rebound drummer' to buy them some time until they are comfortable and ready to make a commitment to somebody new for full-time relationship in their future!"
On September 8, 2010, Mike Portnoy announced he would be leaving Dream Theater. In his official statement, he said he had "come to the conclusion that the [Dream Theater] machine was starting to burn me out", and that he had urged the band to take a break from its relentless recording, publishing and touring cycle. When the band decided it would rather continue without him, however, he departed, and Dream Theater later chose Mike Mangini to take his place after auditioning seven "world-class" drummers. When Avenged Sevenfold later decided to also sever ties with Portnoy, he announced that he had asked to return to Dream Theater, but had been turned down by their lawyer since the band (as later revealed) had already brought Mangini on board.
Portnoy later announced that he had started two new musical projects: Adrenaline Mob, with Russell Allen, Mike Orlando, Rich Ward and Paul DiLeo; and Flying Colors, with Neal Morse, Steve Morse, Dave LaRue and Casey McPherson. Adrenaline Mob released its debut EP in August 2011. Both bands released their first full albums in 2012.
On June 10, 2011, Portnoy announced on his website that he would be playing a show in New York City on June 24, 2011 with Adrenaline Mob.
On August 5, 2011, one of Adrenaline Mob's new songs, "Hit the Wall," debuted on the Q104.3 radio station following a live interview with Portnoy about the band, as well as his hopes for the future and his feelings towards Dream Theater.
On September 14, 2011, it was announced that Portnoy would fill in on drums for Stone Sour's show at Rock In Rio for drummer Roy Mayorga, who had been expecting the birth of his first child on the same day as the show.
Portnoy and guitarist John Sykes had begun working on a new band in July 2011, together with bassist Billy Sheehan. In January 2012, however, the project quietly dissolved, and Portnoy announced that he and Sheehan had selected guitarist Richie Kotzen to replace Sykes. The album was recorded throughout August 2012. On March 24, 2013, it was announced that the name of the Portnoy/Sheehan/Kotzen band would be called The Winery Dogs. The album was released in July 2013.
On June 4, 2013, Portnoy announced via Adrenaline Mob's Facebook page that he would be playing only four more shows with the band before departing. Portnoy cited scheduling conflicts that prevented him from being able "to fully commit to the band's future activities at the moment." 
On March 21, 2015 Mike Portnoy rejoined his old bandmates in Adrenaline Mob in New Jersey for a tribute to A.J. Pero, who died on March 20, 2015 from a massive heart attack. Additionally, Portnoy filled in as drummer for Twisted Sister following Pero's passing.
In August 2017, it was announced that he and his former Dream Theater bandmate Derek Sherinian formed a progressive metal supergroup named Sons of Apollo and also featuring Sheehan, Derek Sherinian, Jeff Scott Soto and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal.
In the April 2001 edition of Modern Drummer & Mike Portnoy's website, he names Neil Peart, Carl Palmer, Bill Bruford, Terry Bozzio, Billy Cobham, Alan White, Stewart Copeland, Phil Collins, Chester Thompson, Simon Phillips, Nick D'Virgilio, Andy Sturmer, Dave Lombardo, Jon Fishman, Vinnie Colaiuta, Peter Criss, Ringo Starr, Tommy Lee, John Bonham, Lars Ulrich and Keith Moon as influences.
Mike Portnoy won the following Modern Drummer magazine Reader's Poll awards:
He has released three instructional videos, "Progressive Drum Concepts", "Liquid Drum Theater", which has won awards from Modern Drummer Magazine, and his latest "In Constant Motion". He has released many "Official Bootlegs" on his website, including footage of the studio sessions for the Dream Theater albums Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Train of Thought, Octavarium and the Transatlantic release Bridge Across Forever. He has released bootlegs of his tribute bands Hammer of the Gods (a Led Zeppelin tribute), Yellow Matter Custard (The Beatles), Cygnus and the Sea Monsters (Rush), and Amazing Journey (The Who).
On September 18, 2006 within his website's forum Portnoy cagily stated that he had finally met one of his drummer heroes from youth from the band Rush; drummer Neil Peart (one of the few heroes from his youth Portnoy had never met, owing to Peart's legendary privacy), that "Neil and I have finally met and we spent some time together this week and had a great time...", and that a possible collaboration was underway/had been discussed with the teasing statement of "Patience everybody... all will soon be revealed!" It has now been revealed that this meeting was for an interview Portnoy did for his stint as guest editor of Rhythm Magazine. Portnoy had previously written the liner notes for the Japanese pressing of Rush's 2002 release Vapor Trails, but publicly denounced Peart in 2000 after Peart called the people involved in the Rush tribute "bar bands" .
In the October 2009 issue of Rhythm Magazine, Portnoy was listed as #5 in their list of the Top 50 Drummers of All Time.
As voted on by 6,500 drummers worldwide, Portnoy won the Drummies Award for Best Progressive Rock drummer in 2010, while Joey Jordison of Slipknot/Rob Zombie/Murderdolls won the award for Best Metal drummer.
Portnoy won the "Virtuoso" award at the 2013 Progressive Music Awards.
Portnoy played John Myung's bass when Dream Theater performed as the fictitious band Nightmare Cinema. Before live performances of "Trial of Tears", he would sometimes switch instruments with John Petrucci and play a fragment of "Eruption" by Van Halen. In Nightmare Cinema he got the "alternate stage name" Max Del Fuvio.
He was seen playing Pink Floyd's Sheep, on a sunburst 4-string Music Man Sterling belonging to Myung on The Making of Systematic Chaos. He plays bass guitar during a jam by Liquid Trio Experiment 2. He has also contributed lead and harmony vocals to numerous projects.
Portnoy and his wife Marlene (née Apuzzo) live in Upper Saucon Township in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania with their children, Melody Ruthandrea and Max John. Marlene used to be a guitarist in the all-female band Meanstreak, and two of the other members, guitarist Rena Sands and bassist Lisa Martens, are married to Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung, respectively.
Near the end of every year since 2001, Portnoy shares on his blog a personal choice on the top ten music recordings, films and TV shows released along the year.
Portnoy comes from a Jewish family, but doesn't actively practice the religion.
|1984||Rising Power||Power for the People||out of print|
|1986||Inner Sanctum||12 A.M.||out of print|
|S. A. Adams||Unearthed|
|1989||Dream Theater||When Dream and Day Unite|
|1992||Images and Words|
|1993||Live at the Marquee||Recorded at the Marquee Club in London, England on April 23, 1993.|
|1995||A Change of Seasons||EP album. Contains live tracks recorded at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London on January 31, 1995.|
|1996||Various Artists||Working Man - A Tribute to Rush||Portnoy drums on six tracks|
|1997||Dream Theater||Falling into Infinity|
|1998||Once in a LIVEtime||Recorded at the Bataclan in Paris, France on June 25, 1998.|
|Liquid Tension Experiment||Liquid Tension Experiment|
|1999||Liquid Tension Experiment 2|
|Dream Theater||Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory|
|Various Artists||Encores Legends & Paradox; A Tribute to the Music of ELP||Portnoy drums on two tracks|
|2001||Bridge Across Forever|
|Live in America||Recorded in Philadelphia, PA and Washington, DC in June 2000.|
|Dream Theater||Live Scenes from New York||Recorded at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, NY on August 30, 2000.|
|Andy West||Rama 1|
|2002||Dream Theater||Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence|
|2003||OSI||Office of Strategic Influence|
|Transatlantic||Live in Europe||Recorded at the 013 in Tilburg, Netherlands on November 12, 2001.|
|John Arch||A Twist of Fate||EP|
|Dream Theater||Train of Thought|
|Dream Theater||Live at Budokan||Recorded at the Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on April 26, 2004.|
|G3||G3: Live in Tokyo||Portnoy drums on four tracks|
|Yellow Matter Custard||One Night in New York City||tribute to The Beatles (with Paul Gilbert, Neal Morse, and Matt Bissonette)|
|Morse, Portnoy and George||Cover to Cover|
|Dream Theater||Score||Recorded at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY on April 1, 2006.|
|Hammer of the Gods||Two Nights in North America||tribute to Led Zeppelin (with Paul Gilbert, Daniel Gildenlöw, and Dave LaRue)|
|Cygnus and the Sea Monsters||One Night in Chicago||tribute to Rush (with Paul Gilbert, Sean Malone, and Jason McMaster)|
|2007||Neal Morse||Sola Scriptura|
|Dream Theater||Systematic Chaos|
|Liquid Tension Experiment||Spontaneous Combustion||as Liquid Trio Experiment|
|Amazing Journey||One Night in New York City||tribute to The Who (with Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan, and Gary Cherone)|
|Dream Theater||Chaos in Motion 2007-2008||Recorded in various places between 2007 and 2008.|
|Liquid Tension Experiment||When the Keyboard Breaks: Live in Chicago||As Liquid Trio Experiment. Recorded live in Chicago, IL on June 25, 2008.|
|Dream Theater||Black Clouds & Silver Linings||Last album with Dream Theater|
|Welcome to the Family||EP|
|Transatlantic||Whirld Tour 2010: Live in London||Recorded at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, England on May 21, 2010.|
|2011||Adrenaline Mob||Adrenaline Mob||EP|
|Neal Morse||Testimony 2|
|Transatlantic||More Never Is Enough: Live In Manchester & Tilburg 2010||Recorded in Manchester, England and Tilburg, Netherlands in May 2010.|
|Yellow Matter Custard||One More Night in New York City||tribute to The Beatles (with Paul Gilbert, Neal Morse, and Kasim Sulton)|
|Flying Colors||Flying Colors|
|Morse, Portnoy and George||Cover2Cover|
|The Prog World Orchestra||A Proggy Christmas|
|2013||Adrenaline Mob||Covertà||Cover EP that covers Badlands, Dio, The Doors, Van Halen, Heart, Rainbow, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath|
|The Winery Dogs||The Winery Dogs|
|Unleashed in Japan|
|Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine and Sherinian||Live In Tokyo||Material from their individual and collaborative careers. Recorded at the Zepp, in Tokyo, Japan on November 14, 2012.|
|Flying Colors||Live in Europe||Recorded at the 013, Tilburg, Netherlands on September 21, 2012.|
|Bigelf||Into the Maelstrom|
|Paul Gilbert||Stone Pushing Uphill Man||2 tracks|
|Flying Colors||Second Nature|
|Haken||Restoration||Gong on "Crystallised"|
|2015||The Neal Morse Band||The Grand Experiment|
|Metal Allegiance||Metal Allegiance||Collaborative Album with David Ellefson from Megadeth and Alex Skolnick from Testament |
|The Winery Dogs||Hot Streak|
|Flying Colors||Second Flight: Live at the Z7||Recorded at the Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland on October 12, 2014.|
|2016||Twisted Sister||Metal Meltdown||Recorded at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, USA on May 30, 2015.|
|The Neal Morse Band||The Similitude of a Dream|
|2017||Sons of Apollo||Psychotic Symphony|
Portnoy has released several instructional drumming videos/DVDs. These include:
Portnoy has self-released "drum-cam" DVDs of the last several Dream Theater and side project recording sessions through his own "MP4" production company. These are "in-studio" recordings typically consisting of Full Band, Isolated Drums tracks, and an Audio Commentary.