Peter Erskine has played drums since the age of four and is known for his versatility and love of working in different musical contexts. He appears on over 500 albums and film scores, and has won two Grammy Awards, plus an honorary doctorate from Berklee (1992).
Thirty albums have been released under his own name or as coleader. He has played with the Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson Big Bands, Weather Report, Steps Ahead, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Diana Krall, Kenny Wheeler, the Brecker Brothers, the Yellowjackets, Pat Metheny and Gary Burton, and John Scofield, and has appeared as a soloist with the London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Frankfurt Radio, Scottish Chamber, Royal Opera House, BBC Symphony, and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. Erskine premiered the double percussion concerto Fractured Lines, composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage, at the BBC Proms with Andrew Davis conducting, and has collaborated frequently with Sir Simon Rattle. He has been voted Best Jazz Drummer of the Year ten times by the readers of Modern Drummer magazine.
Erskine graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and studied at Indiana University under George Gaber. In 1972 he commenced his pro career playing with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Four years later, he joined Maynard Ferguson before working with Jaco Pastorius in Weather Report and moving to Los Angeles. He recorded five albums with the band. He won his first Grammy Award with their album 8.30. During this time in LA, he also worked with Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Chick Corea, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Farrell, and George Cables. Erskine then moved to New York, where he worked for five years with such musicians as Michael Brecker, Mike Mainieri, Eddie Gomez, and Eliane Elias in Steps Ahead; John Scofield, Bill Frisell, and Marc Johnson in the legendary group Bass Desires; the John Abercrombie Trio; and Bob Mintzer's Big Band.
Erskine's lived in LA since 1987 but has been travelling around the world all of that time, working with such artists as Diana Krall, Joni Mitchell, Vince Mendoza, Steely Dan, and European musicians Jan Garbarek, Kenny Wheeler, Palle Danielsson, John Taylor, Kate Bush, Nguyen Lê, and the Norrbotten Big Band in Sweden, plus Sadao Watanabe in Japan. He won his second Grammy Award as the drummer of the WDR big band in Köln along with Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Vince Mendoza, and others for the Some Skunk Funk album. Meanwhile, Erskine keeps busy in LA with such artists as Alan Pasqua, Bob Sheppard, and Bob Mintzer as well as playing in studios. Films where his drumming can be heard include Memoirs of a Geisha, the new Pink Panther films, and all three of the Austin Powers movies, plus the title music of the upcoming Steven Spielberg/John Williams collaboration The Adventures of Tintin.
Erskine produces jazz recordings for his record label, Fuzzy Music, and is an active author with several books to his credit. The latest titles include Time Awareness for All Musicians and Essential Drum Fills. He is currently professor of practice and director of drum set studies at the University of Southern California. His latest album, Joy Luck, is available from Fuzzy Music, featuring two Berklee alumni, Vardan Ovsepian and Damian Erskine, in his new trio. His latest educational effort is the launching of timeawareness.com, an online educational resource for all musicians.