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When I was 19 years old, I met Dom Famularo, and he became my drum teacher. From the moment he fixed me in his steady gaze, he had a magic, warm, welcoming way about him, and he showed me through his teaching that he believed in me, and that I could fulfill my dream to be a professional drummer. Actually, he didn’t even ask if I wanted to be one, he communicated with me in such a manner that it was evident that he was sure I’d succeed. Such was the power of this man’s advice and support that I clung to it, following it to the letter. He taught me about drumming, of course, but just as much about the music business. All along the way, he was also teaching me about life. Dom liked to say, “I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for years, and recently I lit the middle!” He lived life to the hilt, with an energy that I have never encountered in another human being. One day at NAMM, after we had known each other for about 25 years, I went to his hotel room with him to get something. When the door closed behind us, he said, “Joe B., I’m exhausted.” I was shocked. I thought, “That happens you?”
Being around Dom at NAMM was a perfect way to understand how deeply he touched so many people. From the time I graduated college, he told me that I must attend NAMM and PASIC (our industry’s biggest conventions); all the movers and shakers are at these things, he explained, and if I wanted to be one of them, then I had to be there, too. So, I saved my money, booked a plane ticket, and went to my first NAMM. I quickly realized that Dom, like a good father, had trained me and then thrown me in the deep end. He wasn’t going to show me around NAMM and let me tag along with him; he told me to get out there and meet people and check out the show—and then disappeared into his meetings. I was able to catch up with him at the Sabian booth eventually, where he said we’d go for lunch. It took about 45 minutes to walk the 20 yards from the booth to the concession stands, because every five feet, someone would stop Dom to talk.
The interesting thing I noticed right away about all the people that stopped Dom was that they all seemed to address him like a member of their family. He seemed to be just as important to them as he was to me. There was joy, love, respect, and admiration in their voices. Everyone seemed to love him like a brother. This was the effect he had on people. In every one of those meetings, he would focus on the person talking to him, looking them straight in the eyes, and never let his glance leave the conversation, or scan the room. And he never told anyone he was tight on time and had to go, even when he did. Everyone got a full audience with Dom. A new lesson was in the offing: the lesson of respect. Dom showed this respect to everyone.
As my career grew, Dom was always there with support and advice. All those early NAMM and PASIC shows, my first big clinics, Cape Breton, Australia, and on and on. He would mention my name to different people, beat a path for me, and then, like a great coach or father, be there on the edge of the firelight—far enough away to let me fly, but close enough to remind me was there, just in case I needed him.
Over the course of time, Dom eventually asked me to write a book with him, then we started a publishing company together, and he was instrumental in getting me involved with Sabian, first as an endorser and then running the Sabian Education Network. Over the last few years with SEN, Dom and I were able to host dozens of events together; I will be forever grateful for that time. During the coronavirus pandemic, he and I staged weekly meetings with SEN that became uplifting and inspiring events that all of us looked forward to. It is strange to feel nostalgia for the pandemic, with all the horrors it wrought, but this is truly a wonderful memory.
Dom and I long ago transcended the relationship of student and teacher, and he became a brother to me. Brother, father, mentor, friend, partner and confidant all rolled up into one. I could go on with stories about our adventures forever, but suffice it to say that I don’t know what my life would be like without Dom. I don’t know if I’d have made it as a drummer. His influence on my life is immeasurable and irreplaceable. He was in my wedding party. We were there for each other when we buried our mothers and fathers. We brought our wives and children together for family gatherings. Births and deaths and weddings and funerals and drum lessons and meetings and hangs and glasses of wine. The stuff of which a life is made, and in my story, Dom Famularo occupies a place of such tremendous honor and importance that I find it difficult to put into words.
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote this about his character, Gandalf:
“For he was the enemy of Sauron, opposing the fire that wastes with the fire that kindles, and succors in wanhope and distress; but his joy, and his swift wrath, were veiled in garments grey as ash, so that only those that knew him well glimpsed the flame that was within. Merry he could be, and kindly to the young and simple, and yet quick at times to sharp speech and the rebuking of folly; but he was not proud, and sought neither power nor praise, and thus far and wide he was beloved among all those that were not themselves proud.”
He could have been writing about Dom. Drumming’s Global Ambassador, the man who preached the gospel of drumming across the world, and brought a flood tide of love, hope and inspiration along in his wake. The world won’t be the same without him. It’s only been a day, and I already miss hearing his voice.
It will be part of my life from here on to carry on the work we started together. I am surely not equal to the task, but as my friend Claus Hessler said today, Dom had a way of making you able to do things you thought were impossible.
With eternal love and gratitude,
Your friend and brother,
Dom’s speech from his 70th birthday party.
I have known Dom for a very long time. From his days working at a drum shop on Long Island, to becoming a drum ambassador for the Island (as we call it in NY), to the expanded role he created bringing his message of drums, drumming and going after your dreams…. to the world.
His endless energy was inspiring. We used to talk about how he couldn’t slow down, and if he could go to 10 countries in a month, maybe next month could do 12. I got to see him in action at the La Rioja Drum Festival in northern Spain awhile back. He told me what a good time I’d have, and sure enough I flew over with my wife and had a fantastic time. An incredible and memorable long weekend that always seemed to end up each day with good VINO (as Dom used to say).
I was able to visit him a few times over the past year and a half out on the Island. I knew his energy was low, so each time we kept it to no more than 45 minutes or an hour. In that time, we’d laugh, shed a tear, talk about shared experiences and agreed to another visit down the road. We messaged regularly and after seeing all the social media comments, I now understand why he was so tired: EVERYONE texted with him. I’ve never seen an outpouring like what we all witnessed when his passing was announced. I was also very fortunate to see him and his family at his 70th birthday party on the Island and was completely blown away by the efforts people made to be there and the distances people travelled. It was an inspiring and heartfelt afternoon and although Dom was frail, he had the determination through a long day to show the world he was still Dom. He made a fantastic speech that was unscripted and had everyone spellbound. He gave us all an inspiring message that talked about his hope that everyone would continue his mission to inspire and aspire both in their lives and their work.
My deepest condolences to Dom’s loving family and friends.
To a life well lived, Dom, let’s all raise a glass of really good vino (red) and say Amen.
I met Dom Famularo when I was 17 years old. ork. One day he pulled his car up next to me at a stop light on the main street in town. I rolled down my window and said “Hey, I know you! You just did a drum clinic at my school.” He jumped out of his car and handed me a huge amount of Bunken pad sticks. He then ran back to his car and drove away! I called him the next day for lessons. Even back then, Dom was the global ambassador of drumming. He always wanted to inspire drummers. Dom helped my technique so much!
We eventually became close, and he put me on my first professional gig, playing with his family’s wedding band. Back then we would sometimes play five gigs a weekend: one on Friday night and two on Saturday and Sunday. I owe a lot to Dom. During the same time, I started teaching at the Original Long Island Drum Center. Of course, I got the opportunity because of Dom recommending me!
Dom and I go back 40 years! He was my mentor. I was blessed to have been his student as well as his friend. He was there at every step of my career one way or another. He taught me so much about drumming as well as business. I remember many years ago when I was taking lessons with him, he told me, “I am a businessman first and a drummer second. ” This advice made a huge difference in my life and career. Dom also had a way of making me feel like I was the only person he was mentoring. But as everyone knows, he was helping thousands of people. After many years I kept hearing many, many drummers say that he was their drumming dad. I had felt the same way, and I had felt lucky and honored to be part of his “inner circle.” Another amazing thing that Dom would tell me often when I was making my way up in the music business was, “You are there, Fav.”—giving me confidence that my level of playing was on the level it needed to be.
The amount of experiences and fun stories I have shared with Dom over the years is truly amazing. Way too many to share here. One thing I know is the lessons that I have learned from Dom will be carried on by myself and all of Dom’s students, colleagues and friends. Dom “aspired to inspire.” Job well done, my friend. You certainly achieved that worldwide. I will miss you very much, but you are with me every day when I sit down to practice.
We lost one of the greats. Our loss is heaven’s reward.
Dom, Drumming’s Global Ambassador, recently said “I ask all to be kind, open-minded, compassionate and concerned for other people. This request I know will lift me and move the world to a better place.
Be well, happy and smile. Onward and Upward.”
Onward and Upward, Dom. I will miss you. My condolences to Charmaine Famularo, their sons; Dominick, Jonathan, Maxwell; and the whole Famularo family.
All of my love,
Pete Lockett and Dom
Dom was one of the pillars, literally part of the foundations of the drumming community worldwide. I simply cannot comprehend that he has gone.
I recall fondly the numerous times we spent together around the world. From Australia and China to Canada, the States and all over Europe. Cue Dom’s voice in our imaginations as we start out on another drum festival somewhere or other: “Can you freakin’ believe it? We’re doing it again—We’re doing it again, on the other side of the freakin’ globe! What a blessing! Take a minute to enjoy this moment, Pete!”
No matter what situation I saw Dom in, he transmitted positivity like this in every sense of the word. If there was a problem, he wanted to solve it. If there was an audience, he wanted to share and inspire. If there was a student, he wanted to nurture and motivate, and if there was a stage, he wanted to ignite it with all the ferocious fire he could muster. One of his most notable gifts was how he could bring people together, to exchange ideas, collaborate, expand networks and share moments as a group, without division or conflict. He was a rare individual, articulate with his message, inspired to educate and passionate about opening up pathways where people could realize the infinity of their own individual potential. He was indeed, one of a kind and completely unique.
Besides all that, he was a massive amount of fun. Anyone who has shared the dinner table or tour bus with him will attest to the fact that the energy never stopped flowing while Dom was around. I feel blessed to have known him and spent many, many moments on the road together. I will miss him massively and honestly struggle to imagine the international drum scene without him.
To say “Dom Famularo” is to say “drumming.” I cannot imagine anyone filling those shoes with the relentless unbounded enthusiastically intense energy that was DOM! Rest in Rhythm, brother.
In November of 1983 I flew over from England to perform a clinic tour for Tama and my co-host was to be Dom Famularo.
The clinics were opened up by Dom who played and spoke to the audience. I learned very quickly about his wonderful presentation talents and how easily he addressed the audience and got their attention.
I had just started doing clinics so it was new territory for me and frankly the most difficult and perhaps frightening part was addressing the audience. Playing was the easy part but getting up from behind the kit and holding a microphone was something else.
Dom did this with ease. His lovely upbeat character enthralled the audience and that’s when I learned that 50% of performing a clinic is the way one interacts with the audience. As technical and severely in-depth a discussion can get one has to remember that we still have to entertain. I was slowly getting the hang of it but being on tour with Dom really helped my confidence and presentation.
He was so much fun to be around and I remember every flight we took we would talk non-stop about drums and drumming – and our favorite players!
He was also open to learning new techniques and after one tour with him I noticed he started playing left handed on the kit. That is serious enthusiasm!
Over the years our paths crossed many times as he had become the ambassador of drum festivals. He was also a wonderful interviewer and it was always a pleasure to be in his presence.
Dom will be sorely missed!
I’m sending my condolences to the entire Famularo family. Dom Famularo-my dear friend, fellow drummer/educator and fellow New Yorker.
The first time I met Dom I was a student at the Berklee College of Music. The local Drum shop had a month long run of drum clinics. Billy Cobham was one of those clinicians and Dom Famularo was opening for Billy Cobham. Although many of us had never heard of Dom Famularo he certainly made an impression on us.
Outside of his extraordinary International tireless work of educating and inspiring students, Dom created a unique environment for drum education. The combinations of strict technique, focus, a spiritual investment and Dom’s infectious smile could make anyone want to play drums. We’ve done clinic tours together in South America that felt like paid vacations. The stories, endless laughter, classic soundcheck jam sessions, and meeting great South American drummers was priceless.
There were a few times in my drumming journey I needed to bounce a few career decisions/ideas by Dom, and he was always supportive and helpful without insinuating a result. My favorite interview of my entire career is with Dom in the “Sessions” series.
The most enlightened time with Dom was visiting him at his home last summer while Billy Cobham was there- We spent some classic time in Dom’s teaching studio mostly watching Billy Cobham play everything while changing his grip in real time. Dom and I were blown away.
Special thank you to the Famularo family for sharing Dom with the world, and thank you Dom for your timeless contributions….”ONWARD AND UPWARD”
– Will Calhoun
Dom and Dave Stark
I first met Dom when I was 12 years old at the Long Island Drum Center where I had been taking lessons. And just like everyone else who encountered Dom? It was my first taste of that “Dom Magic.” That ability to inspire, inquire and make you laugh hysterically, all at the same time. It would be another 4 years before I would start lessons with him at the age of 16. I always tell my students that when it came to what he started teaching me, and pretty much everyone else, there was that “before and after” part of studying with Dom. A transformation took place and I will always see it as that line somewhere in your playing where you can look back and see that everything changed. How you sat, breathed, hit your kit and felt behind it. Though the lessons were not only about playing. They were an experience. I can say with all honesty that the best lessons, the ones I remember the most? We didn’t play a single note. We talked and he inspired me. Then there’s the other part of the man and teacher he was. It was still early in Dom’s professional career and some of my best memories involved him taking myself and a few other students into NYC to see and witness legends play. Be it Tony Williams, or Elvin Jones, Peter Erskin and countless others. It was always an adventure and the rides to and from the city were full of us listening to music and telling stories, jokes and living life it it’s fullest. Because that’s what Dom taught us to do. Have experiences, to live life to its full potential and then pass it on. I also got to spend my first few years teaching at the same places as Dom and getting to see him several times a week, and taking breaks together, and laughing and grabbing lunch together will always be very happy memories for me. Many who he was teaching when I started teaching in the rooms besides him have remained very good friends to this day. Who can even count the number of drummers who are now friends because of Dom?
Dom was my first teacher who truly inspired me and made me believe that I could do this for a living. He taught me about the business and how to not only conduct myself accordingly, but to branch out into areas I never would have dreamed of when I was young and thinking of a career playing drums. He made you realize that this was not sink or swim, starve or be rich. That you could build a great life for yourself and engage the drumming community at large and that you should “always give back” to it. Feed it and it will feed you. That was true. There are countless stories over the decades, and in time we will share them all with the next generations.
As a teacher much of what I learned from Dom has been passed on to my previous students and my current ones as well. I’m a far better teacher than I ever could or would have been. My job will be to continue to inspire those who come to me seeking guidance. It is also my job to pass along what he gave to me. To inspire my students and watch the smiles on their faces when they too experience that “before and after” moment and metamorphosis that takes place in their playing.
Sergio Bellotti and Dom
I was fortunate to meet Dom Famularo in Canada around 2004. He was often invited to perform and give motivational speeches at events there. I was immediately impressed by his drumming skills. When I first heard him play, my initial reaction was, “This guy has Buddy Rich hands, Dennis Chambers power, and Virgil Donati’s feet.” I was totally blown away. I came back to Boston and decided I wanted to study with Dom. He had given me his contact information and told me that I could come to his studio in Long Island for lessons. I also discussed the option of studying with Dom with my chairman, John Ramsay, and he decided to join me. So, we went to Long Island for a three-hour lesson with Dom. That was the beginning of a long series of lessons with Dom, both in person and remotely.
In later years, I also got an opportunity to become closer to Dom and develop more of a friendship and mentorship type relationship. In fact, at PASIC in 2017, he offered to introduce me before a master class that I gave. Later that year, I traveled to Brazil, where we both performed at the Batuka festival. And it’s also worth mentioning that for four years in a row, Dom and I were both on faculty at the KoSA festival in Vermont. I can easily say that I am a better person today, and a much better drummer, because of all the teachings that Dom has offered me, including helping me to develop the curriculum for the Moeller technique lab that I’ve been teaching at Berklee College of Music since 2018.
I will miss talking to Dom, but I surely feel his presence through my teaching and through all the legacy that he left for us. I am happy to be part of the 3.0 legacy that Dom left for us to continue on. Dom was a remarkable person, and being very attentive, he would always make everyone feel appreciated and motivated to do their best. I know he will be missed by many. He reached the status of celebrity not by being in a popular band, but by nourishing and developing relationships, one at a time. And that has been clear with the amount of social media posts following his death, which included personal stories and photos with the thousands of drummers he met through his travels. More travels, Dom!
The first drum clinic I attended was around 1983 at Grigg’s Music in Davenport, IA. It was Dom Famularo, set up sideways, arms flailing and working his Camco double pedal to the brink of disintegration. He carried that pedal everywhere. The way he spoke about the joy of drumming was infectious. That was the first domino that fell in my life of drumming and Dom has been there for me every step of the way. He encouraged me to develop this, attend that, try it this way, meet this person, apply for that, come do this with me, let me do this for you, be at this event, get involved with this event, then organize this event, offer this to that organization, ask for this, wear clothes that fit better (seriously!), represent yourself, represent your friends, organizations and inspire people. I am only one of THOUSANDS Dom did this for around the world and he asked for nothing in return except for us to inspire others. He truly helped shape our community, lifted all he could reach and he beat the hell out of those drums.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dom in the ‘80s in Saint Louis, Missouri. He was on a clinic tour with Billy Cobham for Tama. Dom was full of energy back then, and who knew that energy would grow and grow. That was the beginning of me learning how to conduct a clinic. Dom had handouts for everyone, and we all walked out with valuable information. I still own that handout; it’s called “From Flam to Groove.” Dom could hold your attention for the entire time he was on the floor. I had the pleasure of studying with Dom right before his illness started. I’ve studied drum techniques for a long time and Dom’s approach was completely different from anything I’d ever experienced. Dom gave me the opportunity to perform on the Why Hunger campaign, and that was a blast! Studying with Dom was fun but challenging. Eleven days before his death Dom sent me a video endorsement encouraging me as well as giving me the baton to continue his teaching techniques. There will be a video presentation at some point that I allowed Cheron Moore to play on his show (Extraordinary Drummers).
I’ll miss chatting with Dom and seeing that smile and feeling his enthusiasm. I send my prayers up for Dom’s family.
L to R: Dom Famularo, Nick Bergamini, Joe Bergamini, Mike Sorrentino, Jim Toscano
Dom was a walking vitamin B12 shot. Every time I was around that guy I just felt better. About everything. He had a way of making me feel that everything I was doing was awesome! And I was energized by being around him. Everything was possible. Shortly after I started studying with him in 1988, I became his drum tech for a while. I saw him do that to everyone he came into contact with. To this day I’ve never seen anyone have that effect so consistently and universally. I would run home, literally RUN into my house, after a lesson (which was always two hours late and went way overtime) to practice like mad for hours on end. His drumming was groundbreaking. The first time I saw him, my mind was melted. I couldn’t believe the drums were capable of being such a great solo instrument! He played the instrument differently than anyone else—with fire, passion, technique and musicality all his own. His focus on being a soloist opened the doors for many who have followed his vision of a career in drumming.
I’ll end with a story of the first time I met Dom, which was at the Long Island Drum Center, and actually led me to study with him. It was February 1988, and a few friends and I were killing some time and checking out the store. In walks this guy with these giant glasses and gray sweatpants. He looks at me (we hadn’t met yet and I had no idea who he was) and says “Are you wearing Long Johns?” “No,” I replied. “WHAT THE FREAK IS WRONG WITH YOU? IT’S FREEZING OUTSIIDE,” he yelled back. “YOU GOTTA WEAR FREAKING LONG JOHNS!” “What about you?” He asked my friend. “No,” he replied. “WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS? DO THEY KNOW NONE OF YOU ARE WEARING LONG JOHNS? GUYS, YA GOTTA WEAR FREAKIN’ LONG JOHNS!!!!” He went on quite a tirade about Long Johns for about five more minutes. We all laughed for quite a while. I always seemed to laugh around him.
When I got home, you better believe I put Long Johns on. And that’s when I decided to study with him. He was my friend, my mentor, a father figure for sure, an inspiration, and every other word you can put in there that describes someone who—well, none of those words quite accurately work. But you get it. I still haven’t fully grasped that I won’t talk to him again in this lifetime. But as he always said, Onward and Upward.
Some Thoughts and Observations About a Friend
My pal Dom Famularo was the real thing and truly was the drumming community’s global ambassador… he earned that title.
We met long before he had anything going on, but the energy and enthusiasm was already there—this was a high-octane dude. He had the most important element for a successful life, which is vision, and knew where he wanted to go.
Over the course of our relationship, we spent lots of time together, also phone calls, emails and text messages. Lots of communication and always lots of laughter. The conversations were about many things: drums, drummers, life, family, teaching, wine, great Jim Chapin or Joe Morello stories, our shared Italian heritage, and the ever-present, always entertaining, stupid shit. His was a very large personality. We are brothers forever.
He was smart, cool, fearless, audacious, funny, confident, dedicated, patient and impatient, kind, loving, irritable, disciplined, peaceful, passionate, energetic, helpful, hardworking, never silent, convincing—he was a force. As I write this, I’m reminded as to how much I valued his friendship.
He lived the vision that he had for himself, knew who he was and stayed true to that. As his career developed, he became an excellent motivational speaker who also just happened to be an excellent soloist, a teacher and most importantly, a mentor. A unique skill set.
He understood that drumming was a lot more than paradiddles. The global reaction to his passing tells us just how impactful and important his message of unity, excellence, encouragement and empowerment was.
He exhorted us to be bigger and better versions of ourselves. He’s gone, but his lessons remain. It’s our turn now.
Buon viaggio fratello, we will meet again.
Dom Famularo was EVERYTHING that a DEAREST BEST FRIEND could be: loving, inspirational, caring, generous, funny, leader of the pack, sharing, supportive, ethical, religious, encouraging, educating, and enriching my life in soooooo many ways.
His Sessions family is committed to preserving and continuing his legacy. Dom’s wife told me one of the last things he told her was to let The Sessions team know that The Sessions lifted him up. We all know how many thousands of people he did that for as an educator, mentor, author, and musician.
Charmaine also told me that he told her he would be sending signs, and last night I had one. Scott and I were having dinner at a restaurant. There was a pianist playing some lovely tunes. I thought to myself, “I wonder if he will play ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings,’” a song that I had told Dom always reminded me of what he meant to me. A few minutes later a lady came into the restaurant with this jacket on that had angels wings on the back . Thank you God and Dom for giving me a sign that comforts me knowing that the angels brought you “BACK HOME.”
Dom Famularo and I met in 1984 at the Frankfurt Music Messe in Germany. I immediately knew he was a “bit” different from anyone I had met. The combination of his high energy, positivity, curiosity, confidence, focus, commitment to continual learning, and ability to communicate with anyone while making them feel they were the only person in the room was unique. We became fast friends, and I watched him create his own space to become the Global Drum Ambassador. He had the ability to see opportunities and create opportunities when none existed. He was a force that created real positive change wherever he went.
A few years ago, he mentioned that he was teaching a group of about 90 drummers with drum pads and sticks online. This group consisted of drummers from Ukraine and Russia. I attended and watched him work his magic of getting these drum students excited and engaged regardless of their level of playing. That’s just one of thousands of examples of Dom spreading his passion for drumming around the world.
It was always a joy to work and spend time with Dom. We shared the same sense of humor, so any time spent together was full of laughter and fun.
I saw how much he impacted lives from all walks of life with many different abilities. He helped them find the courage they didn’t know they had to pursue their dreams in and out of the drumming world.
I will always be thankful that Dom got me involved with Jules Follett and the Sessions with their important work of sharing how to create successful careers in the music business. Watching Dom get the audience fired up for our presentations was like watching a coach getting their team fired up for the big game.
Dom could not have done what he achieved without the support of his wonderful wife, Charmaine, and their three sons, Dominick, Jonathan, and Max. He was so proud of all of you. Thank you for sharing him with all of us.
Dom has left us with his energy and vision to carry on his mission of empowering people to realize what they can truly achieve. It’s up to all of us to carry it forward.
I first heard about Dom in 1993, in a drum magazine given to me by my first drum teacher. I was born in Kyiv, Ukraine during the end of the Soviet Union era, and it was almost impossible to find any kind of information about the drumming industry. I was a young drummer with a big dream in my heart, and the magazine article touched me deeply. I practiced the exercises in Dom’s article over and over, year after year, until the pages were worn out.
Many years later, I settled in Toronto, Canada, and in 2008 I was able to begin studying with Dom in person. Because I had a job and life in Toronto, I decided to go to Dom’s studio in Long Island, New York for lessons every other weekend. I made the 13-hour round-trip drive regularly for three years. I practiced diligently and challenged him with at least 120 questions every lesson. My questions were based on different topics, including very specific questions about the history of drum techniques, because he was a lifelong student of the legendary drummers and educators of the past. I asked about the modern vision of the drum set, because his contribution to the modern art of drumming was based on an amazing level of understanding of the history of drumming. I had many questions about the music business because Dom was a very inspirational and knowledgeable figure in industry. And because he was a beautiful mind and enlightened positive person, I always asked for “father’s advice” for different situations in my life. At one lesson he gave me his book The Cycle of Self-Empowerment and explained his way of self-motivation, showing me each step of his approach. That was the start of my personal transformation to a better person. He changed me completely, both musically and mentally.
Later, when we toured teaching master classes or performing together, I had a much deeper understanding of Dom. His life was dedicated to helping people, loving them, lifting them up and giving them the best possible advice. His motto was “the person is first; the music is second.” He presented himself with full intensity in every moment of his life. He was a genius in everything he did. He was present with all his heart and soul in every difficult situation he had ever seen, and he never let you give up—as he never gave up! The world has lost a giant influencer, motivator, teacher, musician, and genuine human being.
A Tribute to DOM FAMULARO
26th August 1953 – 28th September 2023
By Frank Corniola
From the moment we received the news that Dom was in hospital with hours to live, our hearts were shattered.
Rosanna and I were in close contact with Dom right through this terrible time over the past 18 months, and despite being as sick as he was, his spirit and inspiration was amazing right to the end.
I would like to express a few words of gratitude for the impact Dom has had on our lives.
It was such a pleasure when I first met Dom in 1994 at Drumtek. We had an instant connection; his warm personality was infectious! It was the beginning of an incredible friendship, an amazing and wonderful journey.
When I invited Dom to perform at his first Australia’s Ultimate Drummers Weekend (AUDW), in 1996, he instantly said, “LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!” He honored his word, and of course, he was a major hit on all levels. And he continued to be at every performance ever since, including the many DRUMscene Live events throughout Australia since the inaugural tour in 2006. WHAT A BLAST!
Dom’s DRUMscene cover feature we published in issue 73 was truly a highlight for us and a celebration of his incredible life and dedication to the global drumming community, education and the artform. The many great articles he penned over the years are monumental, including his last article Dom sent me only a few weeks ago to be published in this issue, October 2023 edition, entitled “Drumming Saved my Life!” His expression is so powerful, heartfelt and inspirational. This read is very special.
Even during his darkest and most difficult life challenges, he continued to reach out and inspire us all.
The most significant and wonderful moment was when Dom introduced me to his musician cousin, and the love of my life, Rosanna. A few years later Dom and Charmaine joined us to celebrate our special wedding day in November 2003. What a brilliant and fun time we shared together.
As if that that wasn’t enough of a life-changing experience, then 3 years later our son Peter Dominick was born. He arrived 10 days early, born on Dom’s birthday! The 26th of August will forever be in our hearts and thoughts as we celebrate both of your birthdays each year.
We shared so many milestones and life-changing events, food, wine and FUN times! Wonderful memories that we will all cherish forever. THANK YOU, DOM!
Dom has inspired generations of drummers here in Australia and across the globe! The outpouring of love and tributes for Dom on social media since his passing is truly a testament to the many lives Dom touched across the world. His legacy will live on forever!
We send our love and heartfelt condolences to Charmaine, Dominick, Jonathan, Maxwell, AnnMarie and all the Famularo family!
Heaven has just become a more dynamic place.
In Memory of Dom Famularo
The words that come flooding into my mind when I think of Dom are friend, mentor, teacher. Joy, love, passion. Drive, skill, creativity.
Dom Famularo’s name is synonymous with drumming. Dom was the glue of the drumming community. At every major drumming event you would find Famularo at the center.
You would hear Dom’s voice resonating through the halls of PASIC or NAMM, laughing, shaking hands, and taking time with drummers young and old. He gave the simple gift of his time and attention. He made everyone that he met feel that they had value and inspired them to follow their dreams.
Dom led the way in drum education with excitement and an enthusiasm so infectious you would be “inspired to aspire” to a place that you didn’t know existed.
Dom broke barriers globally, most remarkably in the 1990s in China where freedom of expression was not generally accepted; as well as over 60 countries throughout the world, spreading his special brand of joy, excitement, and inspiration. For this he earned and owned the title “The Global Ambassador of Drumming.”
As an emcee Dom was a triple threat: killer drummer, motivational speaker, and a preacher whose sermon lets us know that everything is possible. He would leave you on the edge of your seat yelling for more!
Dom lived a life of passion for his family, his wife Charmaine, food, wine, music, and people—especially his students.
Dom once told me that with every student he shares a piece of himself that stays with them forever and he in turn keeps a small piece of each student that he will keep forever.
In the words of the late Jim Chapin, “If you’re hurting or in trouble, Dom comes hurtling on the double; and he’ll stick with you until the problems end!”
Dom Famularo is the best example of a life well lived. I am a better person for having known him, and we should all follow his example in all that we do.
There are insufficient words and not enough time to explain the impact Dom had on those around him. We traveled the world together, to The UK, France, Germany and Italy and crisscrossed the US on many occasions. I never tired of his company. Not once.
His positivity is well documented but it took time with him to discover the depth of his compassion and the heights of his intellect. He loved, of course, but he also cared and that is harder. He cared about people around him not just in the now but also in the future.
He saw potential in everyone and was willing to go more than the extra step to assure everyone’s potential was attainable. What made him remarkable was that because of him, people saw their own potential and were inspired to improve and change their future
All of us who were lucky enough to have him In our lives are better people because of him. He is irreplaceable. I loved him. I miss him. Our job is to continue his legacy.
To Queen Char, you are an inspiration! To Dominick, Jonathan and Max, your Dad was simply the best man I have ever known. He was so proud of each of you and he lives on through you. We are all here whenever you need us.
Firstly, to Dom’s wife, Charmaine, and your family: I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what you are going through and have gone through, during Dom’s fight with this horrible disease. I know that you all know how much you were loved, but he was always so happy to tell me and everyone around him how blessed he was to have his family and his love for you all. I never had the pleasure of meeting you all, but I just wanted to tell you how much your husband and father meant to me.
I first recall meeting Dom back in the ‘80s at a drum festival in Germany. It was Dom who introduced me to Jim Chapin, for my first impromptu lesson on the Moeller technique! I will never forget it. It was a pivoting point in my drumming life.
Dom and I had many great times together over the years, but the events that stand out in my mind are all our events together in Australia with family member Frank Corniola/DrumTek, DrumScene Live, and an International Percussion Festival in Shenzen, China. In these events, we got to spend a lot of wonderful moments hanging out, playing, and talking about drums and life. Again, something I will never forget. Always uplifting and energizing was Dom Famularo!
Finally, Dom graciously accepted my invitation to appear in an interview for my On-Line School. It turned into more of a lesson for me than an interview! His knowledge about not only Moeller, but the history of our instrument was awe-inspiring. Please check it out if you get the chance!
Going forward, I will always try to implement the positive, inspiring attitude and message that Dom seemed to naturally and easily possess and convey. Always loved, never forgotten. Thank you, DOM FAMULARO!
Dom was the most passionate and inspiring drummer in the world. Not only did he positively influence the lives and careers of thousands of drummers, but he very personally influenced mine. He was constantly calling me to tell me his latest ideas or discoveries… and he was usually miles ahead of anyone else with trends and new technologies. He was a brilliant man, devoted husband and father, and an astounding musician and teacher. It was my deepest honor to call him my dear friend.
In the early ‘80s Joe Hibbs was in Los Angeles for some percussion show. He and I had been friends since he was 12 years old, and we were always in contact in some form or another. When he saw me at this event he came and grabbed me and told me, “Come with me. There is someone you have to meet!” I always trusted him whenever he meant anything on a serious note. He took me to the side of a stage where some people were about to play, and he introduced me to Dom Famularo. Dom immediately told me all the things he had heard about me (good and funny—never bad) while he was studying at the Dick Grove Academy and was glad to finally meet me in person. He then got on the stage and played, and he knocked all the people there completely out. We became fast friends, and we stayed in touch. He always called to let me know when he was going to be on the West Coast to see if we could get together to talk drumming and life in general. He was always interested in whatever gigs I had been doing and also just what was happening in my life in general.
I watched as he was becoming, pretty much, the Global Drumming Ambassador; he always had great interesting stories. Every NAMM show he would be there working like crazy and then when it was over, he (by himself or with his wife) would come to my house and hang out and have dinner. He would take his shoes off because he said his feet were killing him from doing so much running around at NAMM. At this point we had become close friends, and we would have “life” talks. I’ll never forget how excited he was when they were expecting their first child; he wanted me to tell him what it was like to have a son or daughter.
When I think back on my life I can only name two or three people that I was close with and that were still a part of my life. I have a couple of friends that have been in my life since we were children, and then there was Dom. He made being a good friend so easy, and he was sincere about it too. Always there with an idea and always positive about life in general. I learned an awful lot being his friend and I will always get a smile on my face whenever his name comes up in a conversation. This is tough for me because I could write a big book of all the things we shared and all the serious talks we had about many things in our lives. I’ll just tell you that I had a special friend that I will always have fond and funny memories about, and I will miss him for the rest of my life!
November 13, 2023 will be the 40th anniversary of the first time Dom and I met, a fateful day that set me on a trajectory that led to numerous meaningful experiences in and out of the music industry. And it makes me among Dom’s oldest friends outside of New York.
It was Dom’s first clinic tour beyond Long Island and he was picked by Tama drums to open for the incomparable Simon Phillips for a week in November of 1983 (kudos to Tama for seeing Dom’s potential). My store, Drum Headquarters in St. Louis, was less than three years old and this was the first major event we ever produced. There were 380 people packed into a middle school auditorium. Every single one of them was there for Simon. NOT ONE PERSON came because of Dom, nor did anyone even know who he was! I introduced Dom and in five minutes he had the audience in the palm of his hand; in 20 minutes they were screaming for more. I knew then that I was witnessing the start of a special career, one that Dom, essentially, invented for himself and led to him being known throughout the world as “Drumming’s Global Ambassador.” Forty years later, drummers still tell me that that day changed their lives and not just as musicians.
That experience alone would have been more than enough, but Dom would not have it.
Dom endeared himself to me, my staff, our teachers and the drummers of St. Louis. He came back numerous times to teach, to work with our instructors, and to do master classes and clinics. Two of our teachers even traveled to Long Island to study with him, one on multiple occasions.
Those additional interactions would also have been more than enough; but, again, Dom would not have it.
In 1988, Dom convinced me to buy a fledgling manufacturing company located on Long Island called Casino Percussion Products. Dom inspired me, so I followed his advice and made the purchase. We re-named the business HQ Percussion Products, re-branded the products as RealFeel Practice Pads and SoundOff Drum Set Silencers, improved the quality and grew HQ to be the worldwide leader in practice devices for drummers. Sure, that all happened because of the dedication and skills of everyone on the HQ team, but we couldn’t have hit the home run if Dom hadn’t made the pitch.
I owned Drum Headquarters for nearly 25 years and HQ Percussion for 16 of those years, which gave me the rare opportunity to operate on both sides of the music industry, something only a few people have experienced.
That additional business enterprise would also have been more than enough; but, once again, Dom would not have it.
Dom called me one day in 1994 with an idea that legendary drummer Jim Chapin (for whom Dom supported in every way possible and motivated me to do the same) should record a CD of original songs, solos and stories. He pushed hard, told me I could make it all happen with musicians in St. Louis (at a recording studio owned by one of our teachers who was one of Dom’s most dedicated students) and then said, in typical Dom fashion, “I’m leaving for a clinic tour in China and Australia. You do this.” Off he went and I took on the project. Everyone rose to the occasion and we produced two memorable CDs (“Songs-Solos-Stories” in 1995 and “More Songs-Solos-Stories” in 2002), which make me proud every time I listen to them.
I sold HQ Percussion Products in 2004 and Drum Headquarters in 2005, so I could expand on a venture I had started a few years prior, of owning commercial buildings in a historic part of St. Louis that are occupied by unique and innovative restaurants and retail shops, something I still do today. Fortunately, Dom and I stayed in touch over the years, though we drifted apart because of his ever-expanding worldwide reach and my activities outside of the music industry.
I believe in myself, but sometimes I thought Dom believed in me more and his influence has not waned. I have special relationships with my young and creative tenants and I do everything I can to, as Dom liked to say, “inspire them to aspire.” The chain is not broken, as I try to pass that on to my tenants, in the hope that they will rise up and then, to invoke an overused phrase, pay it forward.
The greatest lesson that can be learned from all of this is: Do not underestimate the ripple effect of what you do, so make it positive. That is what Dom lived by.
I love you, my friend.
St. Louis, MO
Oct. 19, 2023
My personal journey with Dom began on March 23, 1994. I had previously witnessed his performances and heard him speak in the late ’80s, and I was captivated by his entire presence, aura, and, of course, his drumming skills. However, that spring day in ’94 marked the first time we performed together, and getting to experience his personality from such a close perspective was a transformative moment, not only in my drumming life but in my life in general. From that day forward, he retained his “larger than life” persona until the very end.
Dom’s fearless expression of his personality through his drumming was simply jaw-dropping. What set him apart in the world of drumming was the way he elevated things several notches higher by infusing a strong ethical compass and a profound sense of human values into everything he did. His humor and kindness were irresistible, his passion for music and drumming education boundless, and his unconditional love and support for those who had earned his trust were unparalleled. This, I believe, was what made all the difference, not just to me, but to everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. He became the role model everyone aspired to emulate. In my view, the music industry had never seen a person with such a unique combination of skills before. He was a truly one-of-a-kind drummer, performer, speaker, and, above all, a remarkable human being.
Dom had a distinct way of pushing people out of their comfort zones, encouraging them to do things they never thought possible, and then witnessing them rise to the challenge. I’ll never forget how Joe Bergamini and I conducted that online class for Sabian September 28, 2023. We seriously considered canceling it, as I was, to some extent, anxious and nervous, just like I was on that fateful March 23, 1994. However, because Dom had a profound love for people, drumming, and education, we believed he would want us to carry on – especially on that day. I could almost envision him smiling at us, saying, “Accept the challenge.” It seemed as though he continued to inspire people even from a distant place.
I miss him deeply, but I am confident that his legacy will live on. He made each of us better individuals through his presence, offering the world so much more than his mere existence. I choose to follow in these footsteps as good as I can …
Rest easy, my friend.
This is a hard one for me to write. Dom Famularo was my drum teacher, mentor and more importantly a dear friend and I miss hearing his huge “Hello” when we got together.
My introduction to Dom was in 1987 when my band ZEBRA was in between records and the local drum shop in NY asked me to teach. I could play, but I didn’t have a clue how to explain it. Fortunately, I was in the right place at the right time. There was this new teacher everyone was talking about, Dom Famularo, that not only was changing the way drummers played, but also their philosophy of what is possible in the business of being a drummer, so I signed up for lessons.
I’ll never forget the first lesson when he walked in with this smile from ear to ear, talking very loudly, telling me how great it was to meet me and all the fun we were going to have together. He was totally focused on me in that lesson, as if I was his only student, something everybody felt with him. If you were talking to Dom, he gave you his full attention.
He was a tough and relentless teacher, and I mean that in the most positive of ways, because he would see all your potential even when you could not. He pushed me with exercises that seemed impossible to do, then he taught me how to commit to the process and eventually it taught me hand control that has kept me playing pain free into my 70s. I will never forget those lessons. One of the best times of my life.
I moved away and moved on, but kept track of Dom’s career, and during the 2020 pandemic, having time on my hands to practice, I reached out to him again for lessons, and he greeted me with that same warm smile, the same enthusiasm, and immediately started telling me of his game plan for me. That was Dom’s purpose, to help drummers be better, to connect them, and he never asked for a thing back, only that you do your best to reach your potential, that you commit to being better. He loved drummers, and since he had been so successful, he also wanted you to be a success, that was his passion.
We wrote a book together, The Code of Movement, and he connected me with industry people. We talked drummers, drum teachers, politics, life, family, and in-between we went over exercises to help my playing. He decided one day I needed to change to open-handed playing. The thought was terrifying, but not wanting to disappoint him, I tried it. It became a very natural thing for me to do. I mentioned this to Dom, and he said he knew it would be, he just knew, he always saw your potential, be it drums or communication skills in business, maybe just being kind to someone.
My time with Dom was an experience of a lifetime. He was one of those people that inspire you to aspire to be better, as Dom would frequently say… and I miss my friend.
R.I.P Dom Famularo