The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 18, 2005

'World's Fastest Drummer' Comes To Iowa: Free Concert Is Dec. 3

Johnny Rabb, recognized as "The World's fastest Drummer" in the "Guinness Book of World Records," will be the guest artist for the next concert by Iowa Percussion, the percussion performance organization at the University of Iowa School of Music, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 in Clapp Recital Hall.

Iowa Percussion performs under the direction of Dan Moore, head of the percussion area of the School of Music. Their concert will be free and open to the public.

"The world's fastest drummer visits Iowa!" Moore said. "You have to see this to believe it."

As is usual for Iowa Percussion, the Dec. 3 program will feature a variety of musical styles, from Latin jazz to calypso to '60s surfer music. The full program will be:

-- "Inside Straight" by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band as arranged by Moore;

-- Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos' "Bachianas Brazileiras" No. 1, as arranged by former UI percussion faculty Tom Davis;

-- the premiere of "Sleepless" by Moore;

-- "Friday Calypso" by Mat Britain as arranged by UI alumnus Mike Amandes;

-- "My Band" by Ray Holman; and

-- Rabb's exhibition of no-holds-barred drumming, playing an arrangement of "Teen Town" by Jaco Pastorus; Rabb's own "Bird Attack," inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's classic film; and "Can't Beat the Ventures," Moore's medley of tunes by one of the 1960s surfer bands.

Rabb has an uncanny ability to play single-stroke rolls at an incredible speed. When the first competition for the World's Fastest Drummer was held in Nashville, he won hands down. In doing so, Rabb came to the attention of the Guinness World Records committee. He was asked to defend his title live at the Guinness World Records Experience in Orlando, Fla. The attempt was documented by VH-1 for a show called "Rock & Roll Record Breakers." Rabb not only defended but broke the existing world record of 1026 to play 1071 single strokes in 60 seconds.

Today, Rabb is featured in seven interactive displays at the Guinness World Attractions, including Orlando, Fla.; Gatlinburg, Tenn.; Hollywood, Calif.; and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Moore commented on the program, "Inside Straight as recorded by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band is our nod to the City of New Orleans. The performance will feature a second line drum section solo using traditional marching drums.

"The 'Bachianas Brazileiras' was arranged for the Iowa Marimba Quartet more than 20 years ago by Professor of Emeritus of Percussion Thomas L. Davis and is still a favorite from our repertoire.

"'Sleepless' is a new work commissioned by Jiao Shan-lin of the China Conservatory in Beijing, China, who was a guest at the UI last year. After hearing Iowa Percussion last year, Professor Jiao requested the work for an upcoming CD release. The piece is a fusion of jazz-influenced American music with traditional Chinese percussion.

"'Friday Calypso' was originally recorded by the Britain/Moore Duo on our 1993 CD "Cricket City." For the original recording Mat played all the pan and percussion parts and I played the bass part on marimba. After existing only on recording since 1993, this will be the premiere of Mike Amandes' new arrangement."

Rabb received his first drum set at the age of three. With the support of his parents and the influence of live concerts and instructional clinics, he soon began to excel, and his dedication to his eventual life's pursuit led him to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass.

Rabb later relocated to Nashville, Tenn., where he invented the award-winning RhythmSaw drum stick. Playing with Tanya Tucker, Hank Williams III and other touring artists provided the excitement of live performances, which Rabb mixed with the creative contribution of writing and developing children's books/videos and educational workshops.

Rabb is currently participating in clinics throughout the world. He performed a to a capacity crowd at the Montreal Drumfest and also performed in France, Italy, and at the Musik Messe in Frankfurt, Germany. He has been a faculty member for the KoSA Festival for the past two years and recently played at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Nashville.

Rabb has published his own instructional drum videos, children's books and solo album. He designed "The Rabb Pack," a Signature Series of cymbals for the MEINL Cymbal Company.

An internationally known percussionist, composer and teacher, Moore has experience from concert to marching percussion, and from jazz to classical styles. Performing all aspects of percussion, including keyboard percussion, drum set, ethnic, multi-percussion and electronic instruments, he is considered a "total percussionist."

Moore has performed throughout the United States, and in Japan and China. Known for his expertise in electronic percussion, he developed the MIDI marimba, which he designed to augment the acoustic marimba with electronically-triggered sounds.

Moore joined the UI music faculty in 1996. Only the second full-time professor of percussion at the UI, he succeeded Thomas L. Davis, who taught percussion at the UI for more than 35 years. He received an undergraduate degree from East Texas State University, who recently awarded him their Distinguished Alumni Award, as well as a master's degree from Wichita State University and a doctorate from the University of Kentucky.

Moore is a national performing artist for the Yamaha Corporation of America, Innovative Percussion, and Sabian Ltd., and an endorsee for the Latin Percussion Music Group. His compositions and arrangements are published by Innovative Percussion, Creative Music and Cricket City Music.

One of the most active performing groups at the UI School of Music, Iowa Percussion presents concerts and educational programs on campus and across Iowa. Each year the group performs for hundreds of Iowa school children through the UI Arts Share program.

Formed in 1958 as the UI Percussion Ensemble, the organization performs musical styles ranging from ragtime and jazz to 20th century concert idioms and traditional musical styles from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. In addition to the standard percussion repertoire, the ensemble regularly performs the newest music written by both professional composers and students.

With an extensive array of instruments -- from traditional drums, xylophones and cymbals to just about anything that can be struck, scraped, shaken or smashed together -- Iowa Percussion performances are known for their variety and fast-paced programming, presented with humor, drama and old-fashioned showmanship.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,