Basic Background Info

Birth: April 1, 1945
Location: Passaic, New Jersey
Band: The Sentinals; The Turtles; Jefferson Airplane; Jefferson Starship; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Genres: Rock
Instruments: Drums, Percussion
Occupation: Musician


After Johnny Barbata's family relocated to Central California, Johnny Barbata took a huge interest in music. He joined a band, The Sentinals, while just a sophomore at San Louis Obispo High School. Their song "La Tinia" became a hit on the West Coast in 1962. Johnny Barbata was only sixteen when he led the band to tour with The Ventures and The Champs.

With The Sentinals eventual split, Johnny Barbata relocated to Hollywood with his close friend Lee Michaels and they both eagerly looked for their next big musical step. Within a month, The Turtles called Johnny Barbata and asked him to join them for some session work. In one take, he and The Turtles recorded "Happy Together." Johnny Barbata went on to play on ten The Turtles hits including: "She'd Rather Be With Me," "You Showed Me," and "Elenore," which he co-wrote. 

After working with The Turtles, Johnny Barbata joined up with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for their "4 Way Street" tour and corresponding live album. Johnny Barbata subsequently played on several of their individual projects including Graham Nash's Songs For Beginners and Wild Tales as well as Neil Young's live album Time Fades Away. Johnny Barbata also played on the hit single "Ohio" and Stephen Stills' self-titled album Stephen Stills in addition to the "Crosby/Nash" album.

After relocating to San Francisco in 1972, Johnny Barbata joined Jefferson Airplane and stayed with the band when it transformed into Jefferson Starship. Johnny Barbata played on ten Jefferson albums and several of their biggest hits, including "Miracles," "Count on Me," "Ride the Tiger," and "With your Love."

Johnny Barbata's distinct drum rolls and background vocals helped to define the beat and sound on songs by some of the top rock bands in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Johnny Barbata has worked with artists such as Grace Slick, The Everly Brothers, John Sebastian, and Dave Mason. Johnny Barbata's drum riffs can be heard on more than 20-hit singles and over 100 albums.

Johnny Barbata recently abandoned the Hollywood lifestyle. Johnny Barbata sold his ranch to film director Sydney Pollack and moved to Ada, Oklahoma, his wife Angie's hometown.

Johnny Barbata still performs with his band California, with Angie on vocals. He occasionally tours and although he hasn't done a major tour in quite a while, he he hasn't ruled out the possibility in the future.


Album Year Album Name Album Band
1964 Big Surf Hits Various Artists
1967 Happy Together The Turtles
1968 Recital Lee Michaels
1968 Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands The Turtles
1970 Alone Together Dave Mason
1970 Stephen Stills Stephen Stills
1971 4 Way Street Crosby, Stills Nash & Young
1971 Four of Us John Sebastian
1971 L.A. Getaway Joel Scott Hill/Chris Ethridge/John Barb
1971 Off the Shelf Batdorf & Rodney
1971 Son of America Batdorf & Rodney
1971 Songs for Beginners Graham Nash
1972 Graham Nash/David Crosby Crosby & Nash
1972 John David Souther John David Souther
1972 Long John Silver Jefferson Airplane
1972 Raised on Records P.F. Sloan
1972 Stories We Could Tell The Everly Brothers
1972 Stories David Blue
1973 Baron Von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun Paul Kantner & Grace Slick
1973 Nice Baby and the Angel David Blue
1973 Thirty Seconds Over Winterland Jefferson Airplane
1973 Time Fades Away Neil Young
1973 Wild Tales Graham Nash
1974 Dragon Fly Jefferson Starship
1974 Manhole Grace Slick
1975 Red Octopus Jefferson Starship
1976 Spitfire Jefferson Starship
1978 Best of Crosby & Nash Crosby & Nash
1978 Earth Jefferson Starship
1979 Gold Jefferson Starship
1979 Little Warmth Steve Gillette
1985 Home Again The Everly Brothers
1991 Crosby, Still & Nash [Box Set] Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
1992 Jefferson Airplane Loves You Jefferson Airplane
1994 Heartaches & Harmonies [Box Set] The Everly Brothers
1996 Cowabunga! The Surf Box Various Artists
1996 Heroes of Country Music, Vol. 5 Legends of Country Various Artists
1998 Carry On Crosby, Stills & Nash
1998 Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Pschedeli Various Artists
1999 Surf Monsters Various Artists
1999 Ultimate Collection Dave Mason
2002 Solid Zinc: The Turtles Anthology The Turtles
2004 Greatest Hits [Bonus DVD] Neil Young
2004 Greatest Hits Neil Young
2004 Happy Together: The Very Best of The Turtles The Turtles
2005 Red Octopus [Bonus Tracks] Jefferson Starship
2006 Definitive Collection Dave Mason


  • Due to demand for Barbata’s drum skills in the 1970's, he turned down work with several bands, including a new outfit called The Eagles.

Instruments of Choice



Drums: Drum Workshop
Cymbals: Zildjian
Hardware: Drum Workshop

Pics & Clips