Aynsley Dunbar

Aynsley Thomas Dunbar (born 10 January 1946) is an English drummer.[1] He has worked with John Mayall, Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Journey, Jefferson Starship, Nils Lofgren, Eric Burdon, Shuggie Otis, Ian Hunter, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Whitesnake, Pat Travers, Sammy Hagar, Michael Schenker, UFO, Michael Chapman, Jake E. Lee, Leslie West, Kathi McDonald, Keith Emerson, Mike Onesko, Herbie Mann and Flo & Eddie.[2] Dunbar was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Journey in 2017.[3]

Aynsley Dunbar
Dunbar performing in 2007
Dunbar performing in 2007
Background information
Birth nameAynsley Thomas Dunbar
Born (1946-01-10) 10 January 1946 (age 74)
Liverpool, Merseyside, England, United Kingdom
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
GenresHard rock, blues rock, progressive rock, glam rock, jazz, blues, jazz fusion, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsDrums, percussion
Years active1961–present
Associated actsThe Jeff Beck Group, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Shuggie Otis, UFO, Whitesnake, Journey, Jefferson Starship, Lou Reed, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Sammy Hagar, Michael Schenker, Jake E. Lee, The Mojos, Flo & Eddie, Tomorrow (band), World Classic Rockers


Aynsley Thomas Dunbar was born in Liverpool, England. He started his professional career in Derry Wilkie and the Pressmen in 1963. In December 1964 he joined Merseybeat group the Mojos, who were renamed Stu James & the Mojos, with original members vocalist Stu James and guitarist Nick Crouch and bass player Lewis Collins (later an actor in The Professionals). This line-up continued until 1966. Dunbar then auditioned for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Hendrix had difficulty deciding between Dunbar and Mitch Mitchell – the latter won Hendrix's coin flip.[citation needed] Dunbar then joined John Mayall's Bluesbreakers replacing Hughie Flint in the summer of 1966. He stayed with Mayall until the spring of 1967 (playing on the A Hard Road album), and was replaced by Mick Fleetwood.

After a short stint in the Jeff Beck Group, Dunbar founded 'the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation',[1] so named to chide Mayall, who had fired him. They issued four albums during their existence. Dunbar co-wrote the song "Warning" (later recorded by Black Sabbath on their first album).[1] The Dunbar single version was recorded in 1967 for the Blue Horizon label,[4] prior to his band's first album release The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation (circa 1969[5]).

Subsequently, Dunbar founded a short-lived progressive rock band called Blue Whale, which debuted with a tour of Scandinavia in January 1970.[1] Following the recent collapse of the original lineup of King Crimson, Dunbar unsuccessfully tried to recruit Robert Fripp as Blue Whale's guitarist. Fripp, in turn, unsuccessfully tried to recruit Dunbar as King Crimson's new drummer. Blue Whale recorded one album, which featured Paul Williams (vocals), Ivan Zagni (guitar), Roger Sutton (guitar), Tommy Eyre (from Retaliation, keys) and Peter Friedberg (bass).[6]

Dunbar was later the drummer for Frank Zappa, playing on the FZ solo album, Waka/Jawaka, and the Mothers' albums The Grand Wazoo and Filmore East - June 1971, as well as the film 200 Motels. In 1974 he played on the soundtrack of Dirty Duck, an adult animated film directed by Charles Swenson. In the mid-1970s Dunbar played drums for former Grin leader, Nils Lofgren, before joining Journey for their first four albums. He joined Jefferson Starship for three albums. On 28 December 1978, he played at Winterland in San Francisco with the Tubes. Dunbar joined Whitesnake in 1985 and performed on their 1987 album, Whitesnake. He also spent some time working with Pat Travers, Eric Burdon, UFO, Michael Schenker, Mogg/Way and the Animals.

He has been the drummer for the World Classic Rockers since 2003. In 2005, he drummed on Jake E. Lee's solo Retraced album.

In 2008 Dunbar recorded an album of material for Direct Music with Mickey Thomas of Starship, and musicians such as Jake E. Lee, former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne. The complete recordings of Dunbar's drumming with Frank Zappa at Carnegie Hall in October 1971 were released exactly 40 years after the event in a four-CD set.

In 2009 the blues album The Bluesmasters featuring Mickey Thomas was released, featuring Dunbar on drums along with Tim Tucker on guitar and Danny Miranda on bass as well as guest stars such as Magic Slim on guitar and vocals.

In 2017 Aynsley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Journey.


With John Mayall & the BluesbreakersEdit

With Eddie BoydEdit

With Michael ChapmanEdit

The Aynsley Dunbar RetaliationEdit

With Blue WhaleEdit

  • Blue Whale (1971)

1. Willing to Fight – 6:48
2. Willie the Pimp (Frank Zappa) – 14:55
3. It's Your Turn – 9:57
4. Days – 5:35
5. Going Home – 8:56

Aynsley Dunbar – Drums
Tommy Eyre – Organ, Piano
Ivan Zagni, Roger Sutton – Lead Guitars
Paul Williams – Vocals
Peter Friedberg – Bass
Charles Greetham – Saxophone
Edward Reay-Smith – Trombone
Colin Caldwell – Producer

Produced By: Aynsley Dunbar & Colin Caldwell
Engineer: Colin Caldwell
Recorded March & April 1970 Marquee Studios London

With Frank Zappa and the MothersEdit

With Shuggie OtisEdit

With Flo & EddieEdit

With David BowieEdit

With Lou ReedEdit

With Herbie MannEdit

With Ava Cherry and the AstronettesEdit

With Kathi McDonaldEdit

With Mick RonsonEdit

With Nils LofgrenEdit

With Ian HunterEdit

With JourneyEdit

With Sammy HagarEdit

With Jefferson StarshipEdit

With Paul KantnerEdit

With WhitesnakeEdit

With Ronnie MontroseEdit

With Pat TraversEdit

With Mogg/WayEdit

With Mother's ArmyEdit

With Michael SchenkerEdit

With UFOEdit

With Leslie WestEdit

With Jake E. LeeEdit

With Keith EmersonEdit

Aynsley DunbarEdit

  • Mutiny (2008)


  • Bob Brunning (1986) Blues: The British Connection, London: Helter Skelter, 2002, ISBN 1-900924-41-2
  • Dick Heckstall-Smith (2004) The safest place in the world: A personal history of British Rhythm and blues, Clear Books, ISBN 0-7043-2696-5 – First Edition : Blowing The Blues – Fifty Years Playing The British Blues
  • Christopher Hjort Strange brew: Eric Clapton and the British blues boom, 1965–1970, foreword by John Mayall, Jawbone (2007) ISBN 1-906002002
  • Paul Myers: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues, Vancouver 2007 – GreyStone Books
  • Harry Shapiro Alexis Korner: The Biography, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London 1997, Discography by Mark Troster


  1. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 400/1. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ Huey, Steve. "Biography: Aynsley Dunbar". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 April 2010.
  3. ^ "Inductees: Journey". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation – Warning". YouTube. 16 July 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  5. ^ Richie Unterberger. "The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation – Aynsley Dunbar | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Aynsley Dunbar / Blue Whale – Blue Whale (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  7. ^ "The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation – The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation". Discogs. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  8. ^ Richie Unterberger. "Doctor Dunbar's Prescription – The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  9. ^ Richie Unterberger. "To Mum, From Aynsley and the Boys – The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2014.