Basic Background Info

Birth: 1944
Location: Berkeley, California
Band: Don Ellis Orchestra, Frank Zappa
Genres: Rock
Instruments: Drums
Occupation: Musician, Instructor



Ralph Humphrey is an established studio drummer, co-chair of the Drum Department at the Los Angeles College of Music (alongside co-chair Joe Porcaro), a writer for Modern Drummer, and an accomplished soundtrack artist.

While Ralph Humphrey attended California State College in Northridge he began performing with the Don Ellis Orchestra. After graduating, Ralph Humphrey joined the band as a full-time member. Ralph Humphrey adeptly commanded the unique time signatures of Ellis's group. Ralph Humphrey even wrote a chapter for Don Ellis's instructional publication, The New Rhythm Book, in 1972. The following year, Ralph Humphrey became the drummer in Frank Zappa's band.

Ralph Humphrey's freelance credits included performances with Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Carmen McRae, Clare Fischer, John Klemmer, L. Subramaniam, Ray Pizzi, Wayne Shorter, Mothers of Invention, Akiyoshi-Tabackin Big Band, Al Jarreau, Seals and Croft, Free Flight, Wayne Shorter, Tom Rainer, Mike Killer, Jeff Richman, The Outsidemen, Babaghanoush, and Manhattan Transfer.

Ralph Humphrey also worked extensively recording for television and film. Ralph Humphrey can be heard on the soundtracks for Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Dawsons Creek, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Charmed, Piglet's Big Movie, Star Trek Enterprise, King of the Hill, and The Simpsons. Ralph Humphrey frequently worked with Warner Brothers on the animated programs Animaniacs, Freakazoid, Pinky and the Brain, The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, and Histeria. Ralph Humphrey has also appeared on the Academy Awards, and Dancing with the Stars.

Currently Ralph Humphrey serves as the head of the drum department at the Los Angeles College of Music. Ralph and his frequent partner Joe Porcaro developed the curriculum for the drum program at the Academy. Previously Ralph and Joe created the drum program at the Percussion Institute of Technology at Musician's Institute. Ralph worked with PIT from 1980 to 1996; during that time he authored the instructional text Even in the Odds.



Album Year Album Name Album Band
1965 Great Moments in Jazz Various Artists
1968 Autumn Don Ellis
1968 Shock Treatment Don Ellis
1969 New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground Don Ellis
1970 Don Ellis at Fillmore Don Ellis
1971 Tears of Joy Don Ellis
1972 Connection Don Ellis
1973 Over-Nite Sensation Frank Zappa & the Mothers
1973 Soaring Don Ellis
1974 Apostrophe (') Frank Zappa
1974 Dupree's Paradise Frank Zappa
1974 Roxy & Elsewhere Frank Zappa & the Mothers
1976 Everything Must Change Randy Crawford
1976 Sudan Village Seals & Crofts
1977 Mancini's Angels Henry Mancini
1977 Sky Islands Caldera
1978 Circle of Love Lorna Wright
1978 Dr. Heckle & Mr. Jive England Dan & John Ford Coley
1978 Portrait Lynda Carter
1978 Suite Lady Gap Mangione
1978 Takin' It Easy Seals & Crofts
1978 Things I Meant to Say Marcus Joseph
1978 Voyager Karen Alexander
1979 Extensions The Manhattan Transfer
1979 Fantasy without Limits L. Subramaniam
1979 Headin' Home Gary Wright
1979 Holiday in Hollywood Richard Starr
1979 Love Letter Ray Pizzi
1979 Make Your Move Captain & Tennille
1979 Song for a Young Girl Paul Parrish
1979 Tiny Nightmares Frank Zappa
1980 Bi-Coastal Peter Allen
1980 In Transit In Transit
1980 Remington Electric Razor Frank Zappa
1980 This Time Al Jarreau
1981 Blossom L. Subramaniam
1981 From Branch to Branch Leon Redbone
1981 Pages [1981] Pages
1982 Escenas de Amor JosÈ Feliciano
1983 Me Enamore JosÈ Feliciano
1983 Spanish Wave L. Subramaniam
1984 Beyond the Clouds Free Flight
1985 Atlantis Wayne Shorter
1985 Vocalese The Manhattan Transfer
1986 Apostrophe/Over-nite Sensation Frank Zappa
1986 Illumination Free Flight
1986 Wired Original Soundtrack
1987 Sarabanda Martin Taylor
1987 Xcept One Michael Hoenig
1988 Ol' Yellow Eyes Is Back Brent Spiner
1988 You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 Frank Zappa
1989 Mujer Shirley Bassey
1989 You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 Frank Zappa
1990 Atlantic Jazz: 12 Vol. Box Set Various Artists
1990 Atlantic Jazz: Singers Various Artists
1990 Branch to Branch Leon Redbone
1990 From Brazil with Love Roberto Carlos
1990 Private Flight Jim Walker
1991 Marrying Man David Newman
1991 Palm Strings Palm Strings
1991 Piquantique Frank Zappa
1991 Unmitigated Audacity Frank Zappa
1991 You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 Frank Zappa
1992 Anthology: Down in Birdland The Manhattan Transfer
1992 Christmas Album The Manhattan Transfer
1992 Disney's Dinosaurs Big Songs Dinosaurs
1992 Heartscapes Tom Fowler
1992 League of Their Own Original Soundtrack
1992 Oxnard Sessions, Vol. 2 Mike Garson
1992 You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 Frank Zappa
1993 Candles, Snow & Mistletoe Sharon, Lois & Bram
1993 Love Songs Diane Schuur
1993 Man & A Woman, Sax at the Movies Jazz at the Movies Band
1993 Mistletoe Magic: Holiday Jazz Improvisations Various Artists
1993 Muppet Beach Party The Muppets
1993 Oasis Ray Kelley
1993 Screenthemes '93 Mike Garson
1993 Theme From Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Dennis McCarthy
1994 Atlantic Jazz: Best of the '70s Various Artists
1994 Blue Heart Jeff Richman
1994 Reel Romance Jazz at the Movies Band
1995 Earth Songs John Denver
1995 From the Heart Ray Kelley
1995 Swing Kids Original Soundtrack
1996 Band Overboard The Outsidemen
1996 Best of Al Jarreau Al Jarreau
1996 Best of Randy Crawford Randy Crawford
1996 Big Band Renaissance Various Artists
1996 Lost Episodes Frank Zappa
1996 L‰ther Frank Zappa
1996 This Is Jazz, Vol. 19 Wayne Shorter
1996 Windy City Ray Kelley
1997 Fantastic Television!! Original Soundtrack
1997 In the Still of the Night Tom Ranier
1997 Sax on Broadway Jazz At The Movies Band
1997 Swing The Manhattan Transfer
1997 Tribute to Jeff Porcaro David Garfield & Friends
1998 Atlantic Jazz: Vocal Classics Various Artists
1998 Greatest Science Fiction Hits, Vol. 4 Neil Norman
1998 Touch of David Foster David Foster
1999 Love Like Ours Barbra Streisand
2000 Beyond Here Be Dragons Shawn Phillips
2000 Jazz at the Movies: The Bedroom Mixes Various Artists
2000 Portrait: Wayne Shorter Wayne Shorter
2001 Live at the Baked Potato, Vol.1 Various Artists
2001 Pages Pages
2001 Save the Moon Mike Miller
2002 Contradiction Allen Savedoff
2002 Seven Letters Jessica Stone
2002 Visage Ken Wiley
2002 When I Sing Low Todd Murray
2002 Zappa Picks Frank Zappa
2003 Be the Change Prasanna
2003 Bridge Over Troubled Water/This Is The Night Clay Aiken
2003 No Category Shawn Phillips
2003 Sci-Fi in Hi-Fi Neil Norman
2003 Wild Sides Dave Wild Trio/Quartet
2004 At Last...The Duets Album Kenny G
2004 Music for the World, Vol. 1 Various Artists
2005 And So Is Love Rita Coolidge
2005 Everything Must Change/Now We May Begin Randy Crawford
2005 Innerplay Jim Self
2005 Songs of Joy: The Complete C&T Collection Captain & Tennille
2005 Tribute to Jeff Revisited David Garfield
2006 Round Trip Marilyn Harris/L.A. Jazz All-Stars Big Band
2006 Unexpected Dreams: Songs from the Stars Various Artists
2007 Call Me Irresponsible Michael BublÈ
2007 Jazz Criminal Patrick Gleeson/Jim Lang
2007 John Pisano's Guitar Night John Pisano
2007 Simpsons: Testify Original TV Soundtrack
2007 Somewhere in This Room Laura Pursell
2008 Conversations with My Family Mike Garson
2008 One Shot Deal Frank Zappa
2009 Standing On Chairs Allen Savedoff
2011 The Complete Columbia Albums Collection Wayne Shorter
2012 Live & Extensions The Manhattan Transfer
2012 Breathless/At Last... The Duets Album Kenny G
2013 After Blue Tierney Sutton
2014 The New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground/Don Ellis at Fillmore Don Ellis


  • Most recently, Ralph was working on an instructional book examining rhythmic concepts and usage.

Instruments of Choice



Drums: Yamaha
Cymbals: Zildjian
Heads: Remo
Sticks: Vic Firth

Pics & Clips