Prolific New York drummer Roy Markowitz talks about the blues, Janis, Mike Bloomfield and Bruno Mars

"The world would respect and pay all musicians better, not just the superstars."

Roy Markowitz: Keep The Beat 

Roy Markowitz was born in New York, is a prolific drummer and composer, first band to trace with him was The Catskills (mid-60s), a big band. Later he joined Janis Joplin in her group, Kozmic Blues Band, in 1968 to 1969 with: Janis Joplin, Sam Andrew, Brad Campbell, Bill King, Richard Kermode, Terry Clements, Cornelius 'Snooky' Flowers, Marcus Doubleday and others. He rejoined The Catskills and after that started playing in sessions, mostly in Bearsville Studios (property of Todd Rundgren). Roy backing British 60s star Petula Clark (1971-1987).

He appears as session men in many albums: Janis Joplin / 18 Essential Songs / Farewell Song (Janis Joplin), Double-back (Happy & Artie Traum), Dante's Inferno (Rice & Beans Orchestra), Rare + Well Done: The Greatest & Most Obscure Recordings (Al Kooper), Remember Me / Gospel Soul of Marion Williams / This Too Shall Pass (Marion Williams), Judy Collins Sings Dylan...Just Like a Woman (Judy Collins), Blue Velvet [Original Score] (Angelo Badalamenti), Another World (The Roches), Coming Out/The Manhattan Transfer (The Manhattan Transfer), Summit Meeting (Free Creek), Initiation (Todd Rundgren), Tim Moore (Tim Moore), New Skin for the Old Ceremony (Leonard Cohen), That's Enough for Me (Peter Yarrow), American Pie (Don McLean) and many mores. Roy has also played with Peter Allen, and supported Bette Midler´s gig at the Troubadour in LA. As a New York session musician, played on Broadway in Grease and for Twyla Tharp´s Dance Company at the Winterland. He shared the stage with Gerry Mulligan at a memorial service for Jim Buffington and recorded with Zoot Sims for The Manhattan Transfer. Roy was producing an artist at his own facility in NY, and also was an adjunct Professor at Queensborough Community College.

Interview by Michael Limnios

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

The blues always represented honesty and sincerity of expression. I learned that my music had to have those characteristics.

How do you describe Roy Markowitz sound and what characterize your music philosophy?

RM sound is awareness of musical surroundings and contributing it without calling attention to oneself.

Which is the moment that you change your life most? Which was the best and worst moment of your career?

The moment that changed my life was when I was asked to play drums for an African-American dance duo. We rehearsed at their house and I realized they really got and appreciated what I could do.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

"Keep the beat, and you'll always eat."

"The blues always represented honesty and sincerity of expression. I learned that my music had to have those characteristics." (Photo: Brad Campbell, Roy Markowitz, Janis Joplin and Michael Bloomfield at Stax Studios, Memphis, December 1968 / Courtesy of Michael Bloomfield Legacy)

Are there any memories from Janis Joplin, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, and Bloomfield which you’d like to share?

Zoot (Sims), Gerry (Mulligan) and Mike (Bloomfield) were musicians from head to toe - Janis (Joplin) just from her toe.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Real musicians on record.

What were the reasons that made the 60s to be the center of Psychedelic Folk/Rock searches and experiments?

Ask Lester Bangs...

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues with Rock and continue to Jazz and Folk music?

Read Peter Guralnick!!

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

The world would respect and pay all musicians better, not just the superstars.

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the music circuits?

I loved the way Bruno Mars played drums at the Super-Bowl.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

I don't...I'll stay here and now...


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