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Aynsley Dunbar

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  • Born: Liverpool, England
  • Years Active: 1960s, 1970s

Albums

Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Rock journeyman Aynsley Dunbar has proven himself one of the finest drummers in the business for over twenty years, whether as a member of several bands or as a session musician.

Dunbar began his career on the British blues-rock scene, playing with Champion Jack Dupree and Eddie Boyd before becoming the drummer for John Mayall's Bluesbreakers in 1967; he was influenced by jazz and the Who's Keith Moon as well. During this time, Dunbar also played on Jeff Beck's seminal Truth sessions, and also met Frank Zappa in Belgium; when Zappa broke up the first edition of the Mothers of Invention, he invited Dunbar to join his new band. Dunbar first appeared with Zappa as a guitarist on Uncle Meat, but soon assumed drum chores in the Flo and Eddie version of the Mothers, appearing on such albums as Chunga's Revenge, Fillmore East: June 1971, and 200 Motels, and playing music that gave him a chance to show off his jazzier chops. In the meantime, Dunbar also formed a blues-rock band called the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, which featured guitarist/vocalist John Moorshead, bassist Alex Dmochowski, and organist Victor Brox. The group released several albums from 1969-1970, including a self-titled effort, Doctor Dunbar's Prescription, and To Mum From Aynsley and the Boys.

When Flo and Eddie jumped ship in 1972 after a deranged fan pushed Zappa from the stage, confining him to a wheelchair, Dunbar joined their backing band for a short while, although he would also return to work with Zappa on studio projects like Waka/Jawaka, The Grand Wazoo, and Apostrophe', as well as continuing his periodic studio work for other artists. He briefly formed an association with David Bowie around 1973-74 for the albums Pin-Ups and Diamond Dogs, but in 1975, Dunbar decided to join a new jazz-rock fusion group called Journey. He remained with the band up through 1978's Infinity, departing as Journey brought in vocalist Steve Perry and shifted their sound towards arena-rock.

Dunbar next joined Jefferson Starship in 1978, staying put through 1982's Winds of Change. He resurfaced several years later with Whitesnake and played drums on the band's 1987 commercial breakthrough. However, Dunbar was again gone by the next Whitesnake album; he has since returned to the blues-rock he started his career with, working with such artists as Pat Travers.