Billy Bob Thornton is no stranger to the music industry. Having performed on two RIAA Gold records, as well as performing on the GRAMMY winning album The Wind by Warren Zevon, headlined at SXSW 2004, and presented on the 2005 GRAMMY Awards, Billy Bob Thornton traces his music career back to learning drums at the tender age of nine years old.
After begging his parents for a drum set, Thornton got his first kit, ordered from an Aldins department store catalog. "I saw Ringo Starr on the Ed Sullivan Show one night and I thought I was going to be in the Beatles," Thornton commented. "I remember putting on a 45 RPM record of 'Hanky Panky' by Tommy James and the Shondells. I turned it up really loud and drove my Dad crazy! The only thing that would have been worse would have been to take up the fiddle or the trombone!"
He first formed a band called The McCoveys, named after baseball legend Willie McCovey (baseball is another passion for Thornton). At age 10, Thornton made his first public appearance as a drummer at a local PTA meeting performing an instrumental version of Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler's hit, "The Ballad of the Green Berets."
After performing throughout high-school, Thornton went on to play in several groups, eventually forming Nothin' Doin', a ZZ Top tribute band. Nothin' Doin' began touring, building a strong following opening for such legendary performers as Humble Pie, the MC5, Hank Williams Jr., Ted Nugent, the Earl Scruggs Review, Black Oak Arkansas, Ritchie Havens and many others.
In 1995, during the shooting of Slingblade, Thornton found himself with some of his old band mates holding impromptu jam sessions, performing and honing his chops to the praises of the crew and visitors to the set. At the urging of many of his music industry friends, Thornton returned to the recording studio in Nashville and began jamming with Music City's local musicians. To date, Thornton has recorded three CDs and is currently in the studio working on his fourth solo effort.
When asked about how he started using Zildjians, Thornton replied, "I remember seeing all the pros using Zildjians and just how great they sounded compared to what I had at the time. When I finally got my first real drum kit, a four-piece red sparkle Ludwig, it came complete with the Zildjians I had always longed for. They sounded so beautiful - the Crash was crisp, the Ride was 'dark' - all perfect for my style of playing, which is more like keeping time a-la Charlie Watts, Ringo Starr or Levon Helm. To this day I always use Zildjian whether live or in the studio."