Basic Background Info

Birth: April 20, 1967
Location: Long Island, New York
Band: Dream Theater
Genres: Rock
Instruments: Drums
Occupation: Musician


Mike Portnoy was born and raised on Long Island, New York. As a little boy listening to Beatles records and watching Beatles movies, Ringo’s personality immediately drew in Mike. Not long after, Keith Moon’s drumming and character affected Mike Portnoy similarly. He reflected, “It was inevitable that I’d become a musician.”

As a high school student, Mike Portnoy studied music theory and taught himself to play the drums. Mike Portnoy also joined several bands, including Intruder, Rising Power, and Inner Sanctum. Mike Portnoy recorded an album with Inner Sanctum. When Berklee College of Music awarded Mike a scholarship, he left his bands and New York to formally study drums in Boston, Massachusetts. While at a Berklee, Mike also studied Ear Training—he possesses a relative pitch, which is very unusual for a drummer.

In 1985, while studying at Berklee, Mike Portnoy met John Petrucci and John Myung. Together, the three created Majesty, a progressive metal band. They all dropped out of school to whole-heartedly pursue Majesty. In the late 1980s, a Las Vegas group called Majesty threatened to sue the band for using their name. So,they changed their name to Dream Theater at the suggestion of Mike’s father after a movie theatre in California. Dream Theater worked hard performing and recording for years before they finally found success with Images and Words in 1992.

Dream Theatre became one of the most successful progressive metal bands to emerge in the late 1980s and 1990s. Although the majority of their popularity rests underground with a remarkably solid fan base, they created a few mainstream hits; in the early 1990s, MTV regularly played "Pull Me Under."

Dream Theater continues to tour and record. The band included James LaBrie, John Myung, John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy, and Jordan Rudess.
On April 29, 2011, Mike Mangini replaced Portnoy in Dream Theater after Mike Portnoy decided taking a break from the band was the best way to sustain himself as a player. 

Modern Drummer inducted Mike into their Hall of Fame in 2004. Mike was thirty-seven years old, making him the second youngest drummer to be inducted after Neil Peart.

Mike’s influences include Frank Zappa, Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio, John Bonham, The Beatles, Queen, Metallica, Iron Maiden, U2, and Jane’s addiction. He loves films; his favorite directors include Woody Allen, David Lynch, and Stanley Kubrick.

Mike lives in Rockland, New York, with his wife, Marlene, and their children, Melody and Max.


Album Year Album Name Album Band
1989 When Dream and Day Unite Dream Theater
1992 Images and Words Dream Theater
1993 Live at the Marquee Dream Theater
1994 Awake Dream Theater
1994 Guitar Practicing Musicians 3 Various Artists
1995 Change of Seasons Dream Theater
1996 Working Man Various Artists
1997 Falling Into Infinity Dream Theater
1997 Love Is a Dog from Hell Maggie Estep
1998 Liquid Tension Experiment Liquid Tension Experiment
1998 Once in a LIVEtime Dream Theater
1999 Encores, Legends & Paradox: A Tribute to ELP Various Artists
1999 Liquid Tension Experiment 2 Liquid Tension Experiment
1999 Scenes from a Memory Dream Theater
1999 Six Pack: Multi-Artist Radio Sampler Various Artists
1999 Tribute to the Titans Various Artists
2000 SMPTe Transatlantic
2000 Through Her Eyes Dream Theater
2001 Bridge Across Forever Transatlantic
2001 Live Metropolis, Pt. 2 Dream Theater
2001 Live Scenes from New York Dream Theater
2002 Rama 1 Andy West and Rama
2002 Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence Dream Theater
2003 Live in Europe Transatlantic
2003 Office of Strategic Influence O.S.I.
2003 Testimony Neal Morse
2003 Train of Thought Dream Theater
2003 Twist of Fate John Arch
2004 Live at Budokan Dream Theater
2004 One Neal Morse
2004 Testimony Live Neal Morse
2005 ? Neal Morse
2005 Awaken the Guardian Fates Warning
2005 Drum Nation, Vol. 2 Various Artists
2005 G3: Live in Tokyo Joe Satriani/Steve Vai/John Petrucci
2005 Octavarium Dream Theater
2005 Prime Cuts Mike Portnoy
2006 Cover to Cover Neal Morse/Mike Portnoy/Randy George
2006 Free O.S.I.
2006 Prime Cuts Billy Sheehan
2006 Score: XOX - 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with th Dream Theater
2006 Score: XOX - 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with th Dream Theater
2007 Magna Carta Guitar Greats, Vol. 1 Various Artists
2007 Sola Scriptura Neal Morse
2007 Spontaneous Combustion Liquid Trio Experiment
2007 String Quartet Tribute to Dream Theater Various Artists
2007 Systematic Chaos Dream Theater
2007 When Dream & Day Unite: Official Bootleg Dream Theater
2008 Greatest Hit (....And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) Dream Theater
2008 Chaos In Motion 2007-2008 Dream Theater
2009 The Whirlwind Transatlantic
2010 Nightmare Avenged Sevenfold
2010 New World Man: A Tribute to Rush Various Artists
2011 Testimony 2 Neal Morse
2011 Testimony 2: Live in Los Angeles Neal Morse
2011 More Is Never Enough: Live @ Manchester and Tilburg 2010 Transatlantic
2011 Adrenaline Mob Adrenaline Mob
2012 Omerta Adrenaline Mob
2012 Momentum: Live Neal Morse
2012 Flying Colors Flying Colors
2012 Cover 2 Cover Mike Portnoy
2012 A Proggy Christmas The Prog World Orchestra
2013 The Winery Dogs Winery Dogs
2013 Live in Tokyo Mike Portnoy
2013 Live in Europe Flying Colors
2013 Coverta Adrenaline Mob
2014 The Studio Albums (1992-2011) Dream Theater
2014 Kaleidoscope Transatlantic
2014 A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life Various Artists


  • A photograph of Mike, Marlene, Max, and Melody is part of the branded metallic wall at Epcot Center.
  • On tour, Mike’s snare drum heads are changed every three days. The rack tom heads are changed once a week and the floors toms every ten days. His bass drum heads usually last through an entire tour leg.

Instruments of Choice



Drums: Mapex/Tama
Cymbals: Sabian
Hardware: Drum Workshop
Heads: Remo
Sticks: Pro-Mark

Pics & Clips