Derek Sherinian: Wikis


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Derek Sherinian
Background information
Born August 25, 1966 (1966-08-25) (age 43)
Laguna Beach, California
Genres Progressive metal, Progressive rock, Neo-classical metal, Jazz fusion, Glam rock
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, Producer
Instruments Keyboards, Guitar, backing vocals
Years active 1982 - present
Labels InsideOut Music. Magna Carta
Associated acts Dream Theater, Planet X, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Idol

Derek Sherinian (born August 25, 1966) is an American ‎rock and fusion keyboardist based in Los Angeles, California. After studying at the Berklee College of Music, Sherinian became a keyboardist and sideman for a number of artists, including Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Yngwie Malmsteen, Kiss, Alice In Chains,[1] and Zakk Wylde. He has also played keyboards for Dream Theater and is the co-founder of the band Planet X. His solo albums feature several prominent artists, including Slash, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Lukather, John Sykes, and Al Di Meola.

Sherinian has been called the "King of the Keys" by Guitar World Magazine and the "Caligula of keyboards" by Alice Cooper due to his performing style. His influences include Elton John, Keith Emerson, Jan Hammer, and a variety of guitarists. Sherinian endorses various equipment, including Korg and Clavia keyboards. He is of Greek-Armenian descent and has a special interest in Armenian history.



1966 – 1999

Sherinian was born in Laguna Beach, California. He began taking piano lessons at age five in Santa Cruz, California.[2][3] After his junior year at Soquel High School, he received a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston.[4][2] He has since studied with other keyboard players, including Mitchel Forman, T Lavitz and Russell Ferrante. His first major gigs after leaving Boston were with fusion drummer Buddy Miles; he then joined the Alice Cooper band in 1989.[2] After touring with Alice Cooper, Sherinian played keyboards and effects on the 1992 KISS Revenge tour.[2]

In 1994, Derek replaced Kevin Moore in the progressive metal band Dream Theater, originally just for the band's promotional tour for Awake. On February 1995, however, he was made a full-time member of the band. He recorded the albums A Change of Seasons (1995), Falling Into Infinity (1997), and Once In A LIVEtime (1998) with Dream Theater before being replaced in January 1999 by Jordan Rudess because of creative differences.[5][6][4][7] Sherinian remained on good terms with the band, and reunited with Dream Theater for a one-off concert in 2004, which was recorded and released on When Dream and Day Reunite (2004). The band's performance of "Metropolis Pt. 1" featured an extended improvisation between Sherinian, Jordan Rudess, and guitarist John Petrucci.

During the late 1990s, Sherinian released two albums with the progressive rock supergroup Platypus, which also featured Dream Theater bassist John Myung. The group released two albums, When Pus Comes to Shove (1998) and Ice Cycles (2000), before disbanding in 2000.[8] Sherinian did not rejoin the group when it reunited as The Jelly Jam; instead, he helped to create another sideproject with fellow Platypus member Ty Tabor called Jughead.[8]

1999 – present

Since 1999, Sherinian has recorded several solo albums, featuring performances by numerous well-known musicians. Sherinian's first solo project, Planet X (1999), recorded with Australian drummer Virgil Donati, led to the formation of the group of the same name (Planet X); they recruited guitar player Tony MacAlpine for the new project.[9] Sherinian has stated that his intention when forming Planet X was to create a group of musicians that "played their instruments so fiercely, that they would strike fear in the hearts of all musicians".[9] A full live version of the track "Atlantis: Apocalypse 1470 BC" from the Planet X Web site can be heard here.

In 2001, Derek teamed with drummer Simon Phillips and studio guitar player Steve Lukather to record Inertia,[10] followed by Black Utopia (2003). For Black Utopia, three new faces joined Sherinian’s group: bassist Billy Sheehan, rock guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, and jazz fusion guitarist Al Di Meola.[11][12] With respect to this fusion-influenced lineup, Sherinian stated:

I have always been a fan of jazz fusion, but from the perspective of a rock player crossing over to jazz, not vice versa. I think that is how Jeff Beck (who Sherinian stated he hopes to play with in a recent interview) approached his classic instrumental records and I like to follow in that path.[2]

Sherinian also calls the album "a lot darker and heavier than [Inertia]".[13] In Japan, the cover of Black Utopia was altered to remove the cross in the title; Sherinian has commented that the cross "meant nothing" and was added for aesthetic purposes.[13]

Sherinian extended further into the fusion realm by collaborating with guitarist Allan Holdsworth and violinist Jerry Goodman (formerly of the Mahavishnu Orchestra) on Mythology (2004).[14] In addition to another appearance by Phillips, other musicians appearing on this recording were Zakk Wylde, John Sykes, Steve Stevens, and Tony Franklin.[14][2]

Since 2002, Sherinian has toured with several well-known artists, including Billy Idol and Yngwie Malmsteen.[15] Derek's fifth solo album, Blood of the Snake (2006), features contributions from Idol, as well as former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, John Petrucci of Dream Theater, and Brian Tichy; Phillips, Franklin and Lukather make return appearances.[16][17] A video for a cover version of Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" was released along with the album.[18] Sherinian also worked with duduk master Djivan Gasparyan on the song "Prelude To Battle" on the release, written for his great grandmother who fought the Turks in the Armenian genocide. The third Planet X studio album, Quantum, was released in May 2007 to positive reviews. In 2009, Sherinian released his sixth solo album, "Molecular Heinosity", again featuring Zakk Wylde, Tony Franklin and Brian Tichy. Later that year, Sherinian also performed a one-off acoustic gig with Alice In Chains to launch their "Black Gives Way To Blue" album.

In September 2009, Sherinian joined Hollywood-based placement company Song Placements [1]. Together they are working on licensing his music to TV and film.

Influences and collaborations

In a 2000 interview, Sherinian cited his early influences as being Jan Hammer (Mahavishnu Orchestra), Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer and The Nice), Rick Wakeman (Yes), and Elton John.[3] Other influences include guitarists Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Beck, and Eddie Van Halen. Sherinian enjoys co-writing material with fellow musicians, and often finds that he writes better material with drummers.[19] One of his favorite keyboardists is Jens Johansson, who he deems the "coolest keyboardist out there."[20] Sherinian cites Van Halen's guitar playing as having a direct influence on his unique approach to keyboards in terms of technique as well as tone; his unique "Monster Lead" lead patch contains numerous elements of guitar sounds such as distortion, harmonics, and palm-muting, eventually leading to a collaboration at Van Halen's home in 2006, of which Sherinian said "It was the highlight of my career, it was completely surreal." Sherinian's work with noted Toto guitarist Steve Lukather on the 2001 solo CD "Inertia" was cited by Lukather as "probably my best recorded work in my whole career. Great record! I'm very proud of it!".[2]

Sherinian's collaborations with top musicians were featured in a 2007 article in Guitar World magazine, where guitarist Zakk Wylde offered “People want to play with him because he’s that good. He can play everything from the easiest licks on a piano to the most complex Beethoven sonatas with ease.” Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci added "...Derek-considering the fact that he’s heavily into guitarists and rock music, his history, and the range of all the great guitarists he’s worked with—plays with a fire unheard of from most keyboardists.”[21] Sherinian explains that he enlists a variety of guitarists because he "[does not] think there is one guitarist who can cover all the styles featured on [the] albums." Sherinian often tailors songs for specific guitarists, such as Holdsworth and Wylde for "Day of the Dead" (off Mythology);[21] in this respect, he seeks to take certain aspects of genres and make them "collide in an eloquent way".[13]


A Clavia Nord Modular similar to the one Sherinian uses
The original KORG Triton released in 1999

Derek Sherinian currently uses and endorses Clavia, Korg and Roland keyboards.[22][23] Sherinian was presented the G2 Modular synth serial number 001 by Clavia representative Bengt Lilja in January 2004.[24] As an KORG endorsee, Sherinian was one of the first artists to adopt the Korg Trinity keyboard series in 1996. In collaboration with KORG sound designer Jack Hotop, they created Sherinian's signature guitaristic lead sound (the "Monster Lead") on the Trinity, as well as other, more "modern" and "aggressive" keyboard patches, owing to his fondness of guitar tones and technique. Derek continues to use the Trinity and Triton successors, the Korg M3 w/RADIAS both in the studio and live. Sherinian feels his "most identifiable sound is on the Korg Triton and Trinity"; he uses the Triton "for 70% of [his] work".[25].

Derek has also used the Hammond B3 organ; he thinks that "every rock keyboardist should have a Leslie and a distorted Hammond as part of their hammond sound. It just gives it edge."[26] Sherinian records with a vintage B3 but on tour uses digital emulations from his Nord and Triton keyboards, as well as specifically a Korg CX-3 organ of which he was a beta-tester and has contributed several patches, such as his signature distorted "Rock Balls". [2].

Sherinian is also an accomplished guitarist who was going to take over the rhythm guitar spot in Alice Cooper's touring band in 1994 before being offered his Dream Theater audition. He played guitar live with Dream Theater during their Nightmare Cinema performances in 1997 and '98. [3]

Derek is also known for being one of the first keyboardists to use vertical keyboard stands, as well as one of the first to make a "fashion statement" (much like guitarists do with their finishes) by using red-chrome plated stands that match his red Nord keyboards and work well with the neutral silver of his KORG instruments. A more detailed list of equipment can be found at Sherinian's Web site ([4]).

Sherinian currently uses the following gear: Korg M3 73, Clavia Nord Lead 3, Clavia Nord G2X Modular, and Yamaha C9 Conservatory Series Grand Piano. His vintage gear includes: Moog Taurus Pedals, Hammond B3, Leslie 127, Rhodes 73 Suitcase, and Wurlitzer Electric piano. Sherinian also owns Beachwood Manor Studios, located in Burbank, California.:SSSSSSSSSS

Selected discography

Information courtesy of[27][28][29]

Solo albums

Date of release Title Label Type Allmusic rating US Sales
1999 Planet X Magna Carta Studio 3/5 stars N/A
2001 Inertia InsideOut Studio 3/5 stars N/A
April 22, 2003 Black Utopia InsideOut Studio 3/5 stars N/A
November 9, 2004 Mythology InsideOut Studio N/A N/A
August 1, 2006 Blood of the Snake InsideOut Studio 3.5/5 stars N/A
March 24, 2009 Molecular Heinosity InsideOut Studio 3.5/5 stars N/A

With Dream Theater

Date of release Title Label Type Allmusic rating US Sales
September 19, 1995 A Change of Seasons EastWest Studio/Live EP 4.5/5 stars 188,000+
September 23, 1997 Falling into Infinity EastWest Studio 3/5 stars 160,000+
October 27, 1998 Once in a LIVEtime EastWest Live 3/5 stars 75,000+
1998 5 Years in a LIVEtime EastWest VHS/DVD 3/5 stars N/A

With Planet X

Date of release Title Label Type Allmusic rating US Sales
June 6, 2000 Universe InsideOut Studio 4/5 stars N/A
April 3, 2002 Live from Oz InsideOut Live 3/5 stars N/A
July 29, 2002 MoonBabies InsideOut Studio 3/5 stars N/A
May 18, 2007 Quantum InsideOut Studio 4/5 stars N/A

With other musicians

A complete list of projects is at Sherinian's website and the Allmusic credits page.
Date of release Artist Title Label Type Allmusic rating US Sales
May 18, 1993 Kiss Alive III Mercury Live 2/5 stars N/A
1994 Alice Cooper The Last Temptation Epic Studio 4/5 stars N/A
August 22, 1995 Alice Cooper Classicks Epic Compilation 2.5/5 stars N/A
August 25, 1998 Platypus When Pus Comes to Shove Velvel Studio 4/5 stars N/A
May 14, 2000 Platypus Ice Cycles Century Media Studio 3/5 stars N/A
2002 Various Pigs and Pyramids Musea Tribute 2/5 stars N/A
January 22, 2002 Gilby Clarke Swag Spitfire Studio 4/5 stars N/A
June 11, 2002 Jughead Jughead InsideOut Studio 4/5 stars N/A
October 15, 2002 Yngwie Malmsteen Attack!! Import Studio 3/5 stars N/A
March 22, 2005 Billy Idol Devil's Playground Sanctuary Studio 2/5 stars N/A
January, 2008 Ayreon 01011001 InsideOut Studio 4/5 stars N/A
April 25, 2008 Theodore Ziras Hyperpyrexia SLZ Studio 5/5 stars N/A
June 24, 2008 Billy Idol The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself Capitol Records Compilation 4/5 stars N/A
December, 2009 Relocator Relocator (self-distributed) Studio N/A N/A

Movie appearances


  1. ^ " > News > ALICE IN CHAINS - Keyboardist Derek Sherinian Reports From Hollywood LIstening Party". Retrieved 2009-11-27.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Derek Sherinian - Bio". Retrieved 2007-06-12.  
  3. ^ a b "Derek Sherinian Interview". Retrieved 2007-07-02.  
  4. ^ a b "Derek Sherinian - Overview". Retrieved 2007-06-12.  
  5. ^ "Mike Portnoy FAQ". Retrieved 2007-06-10.  
  6. ^ "Dream Theater FAQ". Retrieved 2007-06-10.  
  7. ^ "Dream Theater returns to roots". Deseret Morning News and 2006-03-10. Retrieved 2007-06-12.  
  8. ^ a b "2001 Archives". Retrieved 2007-07-02.  
  9. ^ a b "Planet X - The Band". Retrieved 2007-06-12.  
  10. ^ Wildran, Jonathan. "Inertia - Overview". Retrieved 2007-07-02.  
  11. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Black Utopia - Overview". Retrieved 2007-07-02.  
  12. ^ "Former DREAM THEATER Keyboardist Completes Work On New Solo CD". 2003-02-13. Retrieved 2007-07-02.  
  13. ^ a b c "Interview - Derek Sherinian". RevelationZ Magazine. Retrieved 2007-08-26.  
  14. ^ a b "New DEREK SHERINIAN Solo Album To Feature Guest Appearances By ZAKK WYLDE, JOHN SYKES". 2004-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-02.  
  15. ^ "Billy Idol to Release First CD Featuring New Music in More Than 10 Years; Rebel Rocker Offers DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND on March 22; `Scream' Goes to Radio Early January". Business Wire and 2004-12-06. Retrieved 2007-06-12.  
  16. ^ Prato, Greg. "Blood of the Snake - Overview". Retrieved 2007-06-12.  
  17. ^ "DEREK SHERINIAN: More Solo Album Details Revealed". 2006-05-06. Retrieved 2007-06-12.  
  18. ^ "DEREK SHERINIAN's Video Featuring Slash Posted Online". 2006-07-27. Retrieved 2007-06-12.  
  19. ^ Jan van der Vorst. "Derek Sherinian: Interview 2004". Dutch Progressive Rock Page. Retrieved 2007-10-01.  
  20. ^ "Derek Sherinian interview". Retrieved 2007-10-01.  
  21. ^ a b Lalaina, Joe. "King of the Keys: Derek Sherinian". Guitar World. Retrieved 2007-09-30.  
  22. ^ "Clavia instrument users: Derek Sherinian". Retrieved 2007-07-02.  
  23. ^ " Derek Sherinian". Retrieved 2007-07-02.  
  24. ^ "Derek Sherinian receives Nord Modular G2 #001!". 2004-01-20. Retrieved 2007-07-02.  
  25. ^ Gulotta, Emily. "Connecting with Derek Sherinian". Retrieved 2007-10-14.  
  26. ^ "Chat with Rod Morgenstein and Derek Sherinian of Platypus". Retrieved 2007-10-14.  
  27. ^ "Derek Sherinian Discography". Retrieved 2007-10-01.  
  28. ^ "Dream Theater Discography". Retrieved 2007-10-01.  
  29. ^ "Planet X Discography". Retrieved 2007-10-01.  


External links

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