In 1977, New Jersey-born Peter Erskine was a 23-year-old drum powerhouse playing one-nighters in trumpeter Maynard Ferguson’s big band. A year later, thanks to a good word from electric bass demigod Jaco Pastorius, Erskine would be touring arenas around the world as a member of the epochal fusion group Weather Report, a chair he’d hold until 1982.
Erskine’s recent autobiography, No Beethoven (Fuzzy Music/Alfred), is a narrative tracing the drummer’s rich and varied musical life as well as an account of the inner workings and sometimes outrageous personalities of Weather Report. Particularly touching are Erskine’s writings on Pastorius, a musical genius who redefined his instrument but whose mental illness eventually led to his tragic death in 1987 at age 35. For this April bass issue, we’ve extracted a selection of Erskine’s remembrances of his friend Jaco. THE EDITORS