Virgil Donati

Virgil Donati (born October 22, 1957) is an Australian drummer currently playing in the band Planet X alongside many side projects. Recently, he has been touring with French superstar Michel Polnareff on the European leg of sold out shows in France.


Virgil is perhaps most well known for his fast, highly technical drumming skills. He holds the drum sticks in the traditional style and is also proficient at the keyboard.

His Pearl drum kit consists of a 22x18 bass drum, 10x9 tom, 12x9 tom, 14x12 tom, 16x16 floor tom, 18x16 floor tom, 14x5 Virgil Donati snare drum accompanied by a sopranino snare. He also frequently uses innovative 'air toms' which are toms that meet the players head height above the existing toms. Virgil also uses Pearl hardware. He plays Sabian cymbals, Remo drumheads and Vater sticks.

Virgil was born of Italian descent in Melbourne, Australia, and got his first drumset at age 3 .

He started playing right away with his father's showband, and kept on doing these shows until he was around 6 years old. He began taking lessons at age 7 with Brian Czempinski and later Graham Morgan, now a legend in the Australian drumming community.

He joined his first major rock band and signed with his first major record label at the age of 15. The band was first called Cloud Nine, but was later renamed Taste. Overall, he recorded 3 albums with the band Taste and as a result improved his skills in the places it counted - the stage and the studio.

Donati left school when he was 16, focusing mainly on the drums, but also piano, and practicing hard every day. These days he spends most of his time in the United States playing with a number of different bands. Playing 6 nights a week with Taste was what really “got his chops together”. Australia was very isolated as far as instructional books and big international tours, so he had to rely on self-motivation and listening to records.

With his father's choice of records, including Louie Bellson and Buddy Rich albums, Virgil quickly became a fan of those great jazz drummers, trying to emulate their solos.

The first rock drummer to make a big impact on him was Ian Paice of Deep Purple. Donati was “blown away by his clarity and power”, something for which he later would become famous himself.

Practice became a way of life for Virgil, who tried to learn as many different styles as possible, enabling him to cope with any musical situation he was confronted with.

At age 19 Virgil travelled to the U.S. to study with Philly Joe Jones, and at Dick Groves School in L.A. He also took lessons from snare drum specialist Murray Spivack.

He returned to Australia at the age of 21 where his career finally took off. Playing jazz with Allan Zavod and Brian Brown, and rock with Peter Cupples' band, he was a busy touring and session drummer Down Under.

His own pop band, The State turned into Southern Sons, which led to Virgil's first taste of international fame, with their self-titled debut selling multi-platinum and producing the international hit single 'Heart In Danger'.

During the 1980's Virgil incredible drumming was a feature of the hard-driving, high-quality Melbourne-based jazz fusion band 'Loose Change', which later became 'Changes'.

The big break came in 1995 where Virgil's first solo album Stretch was released to a stunned community of drummers worldwide. In 1999 Virgil relaeased On The Virg: Serious Young Insects through Melbourne based record company Vorticity Music With tracks like the timebending Native Metal this CD cemented Virgil's status as a progressive musical mastermind. Additionally, the track Alien Hip-Hop defined Donati's skill of double bass drumming over odd-time patterns.

Virgil was voted the number 1 clinician of the year (2004) by the readers of the popular drummer magazine, Modern Drummer. Virgil's own band 'Planet X', formed after Virgil's collaboration on Derek Sherinian's 1999 solo album "Planet X", is one of the most advanced progressive fusion groups, setting new standards for other musicians to follow. They have released three studio albums; Universe, Moonbabies, Quantum and one live album, Live From Oz Virgil has also made numerous live appearances worldwide with fusion leaders Scott Henderson and Tribal Tech.

Virgil's website, accordingly located at, amongst other features presents an extensive gallery, videos, audio samples from his albums, and - pioneering the world of drummer websites - Online lessons + a rapidly growing message board of 10,000+ drummers from all over the world, talking and learning about Virgil and drumming in general.

On March 15, 2007, his website exclusively launched a special 2-disc DVD digipak from his clinic in Stockholm during the Bass n' Drum festival of 2005. Produced entirely by Virgil Donati and Christopher Nalbandian (also the webmaster for, it has been very well received by drummers and percussionists alike, with Virgil showcasing his most technical drumming to date.

Virgil's discography:

As leader:

As bandmember:

As session player:

Virgil's videography:

Some of the other countless bands, projects or artists that Donati has played with are:


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