Basic Background Info

Birth: July 28, 1944
Location: Hollywood, California
Band: Beach Boys, The Backsters, The OC Beach Band
Genres: Pop, Rock, Surf Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Sunshine Pop, Jazz
Instruments: Drums
Occupation: Musician


Mike Kowalski was born in Hollywood, California and, appropriately, he forayed into stardom as a three-year-old when he played piano for a television pilot with Mel Torme on the drums. His godfather, Dragnet star Jack Webb, gave Mike Kowalski a Slingerland Radio-King drum set when he was ten. After five years on his drum kit, Mike Kowalski played professionally with local rock and R&B bands and, occasionally, he was lucky enough to perform on screen. As a teenager, Mike Kowalski played with Sonny & Cher, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Etta James, Pat Vegas, and Lolly Vegas.

In 1968, Mike Kowalski joined London-based blues trio New Nadir and toured Europe. The same year, Mike Kowalski joined the Beach Boys as a supporting member. Mike Kowalski was the band's primary drummer after 1983 (because Dennis Wilson had passed away). He was replaced in 2007 by John Cowsill. Mike, Chris Farmer, Scott Bennett, and Probyn Gregory, all former or current supporting Beach Boys members, created The OC Beach Band.

While performing with the Beach Boys, Mike Kowalski worked with Albert Collins, The Johnny Otis Show, Charles Lloyd, Big Joe Turner, John Mayall, and Charlie Mulleswhite. Mike Kowalski collaborated with saxophonist Joel C. Peskin to create the Backsters in 1984. Their album, Get on Your Back, (produced by Herb Alpert) showcased many prominent jazz and blues performers.


Album Year Album Name Album Band
1970 Bryter Layter Nick Drake
1970 Road to Ruin John Martyn
1971 Freedom Flight Shuggie Otis
1971 Nick Drake Nick Drake
1971 Smiling Men with Bad Reputations Mike Heron
1973 Beach Boys in Concert The Beach Boys
1974 Inspiration Information Shuggie Otis
1977 Celebration Mike Love
1978 Almost Summer Almost Summer
1978 Crazy Moon Crazy Horse
1978 M.I.U. Album The Beach Boys
1978 Weavings Charles Lloyd
1986 Fruit Tree Nick Drake
1994 Way to Blue: An Introduction to Nick Drake Nick Drake
1997 Crazy Moon Crazy Horse
1997 Live & Jumpin' Backsters
1998 Symphonic Sounds: The Music of Beach Boys Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
2002 Acoustic, Vol. 2 Various Artists
2002 Best of Transatlantic Stefan Grossman
2003 Here Comes Shuggie Otis/Freedom Flight Shuggie Otis
2004 Best of Acoustic Various Artists
2004 Smiling Men with Bad Reputations Mike Heron
2004 Treasury Nick Drake
2006 White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s Various Artists
2007 Four Decades of Folk Rock Various Artists
2007 Fruit Tree Nick Drake


  • The video for the instrumental "Handclappin" on the Backster’s Get on Your Back, was one of the first instrumental music videos that received regular play on MTV.

Instruments of Choice




Pics & Clips