After coming to fame with Wild Dogs, Deen Castronovo went on to become Journey’s longest-serving drummer. In 2015, his time with the Don’t Stop Believin’ hitmakers came to an end after he was convicted of domestic abuse and harassment. But now he’s back. After spending the past 6 years transforming his life, Castronovo is clean and sober, and back to doing what he does best with the rest of the band. Find out more with these 10 things you didn’t know about Deen Castronovo.
1. He’s been drumming since he was 6
Castronovo began his musical journey at the age of 6 when he decided he wanted to be a rock drummer. After convincing his mother to let him have lessons, he lucked out when legendary Portland drummer Mel Brown offered to teach him. Speaking to oregonlive.com, Castronovo explained how Brown helped make him the drummer he is today. “My mother would drive me to Portland to take lessons from him every week,” he said. “He’s one of the greatest drummers of all time, in my opinion. With him, I learned a lot about how to play and relax.”
2. Kiss are his Beatles
When his older brother handed him his first Kiss album at 7 years old, Castronovo was an instant convert. He’s still as enraptured now as he was then, describing the band as ‘my Beatles’ and calling their music the soundtrack to his childhood. During an interview with BraveWords, he waxed lyrical about how they’re still able to rock just as hard today as they did in their prime. “They are incredible, they always bring their A-game,” he said. “They are in their late 50s and early 60s and they still kill every night.”
3. He came to fame with Wild Dogs
At the age of 16, Castronovo scored his first big gig when he joined The Enemy. Despite the band’s relative success, it was his time with Wild Dogs that really thrust him into the limelight. The band was formed in 1981 by Jeff Mark, Danny Kurth, Matt McCourt, and Pete Holmes. Drummer Holmes left shortly afterward to join Black ‘n Blue and was replaced by Jaime St James. Before they’d even finished their first album, St James also got lured away by Black n’ Blue. At around about the same time, McCourt struck up a friendship with Castronovo and invited him to join the band. He did, and ended up staying with them for the next 5 years.
4. He formed a supergroup with Neal Schon
Castronovo’s friendship with Journey’s Neal Schon goes back years. The pair were introduced to each other by Tony MacAlpine, who Castronovo had begun collaborating with while he was still with Wild Dogs. After they struck up a friendship, Schon invited Castronovo to join a new glam metal supergroup he was forming alongside Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain and singer John Waite and bassist Ricky Phillips from The Babys. He agreed, and Bad English (as they became) continued to perform together until 1991. After the band disbanded, Castronovo and Schon teamed up again on Hardline’s debut album Double Eclipse.
5. He didn’t resent Journey for firing him
In 1998, Castronovo and Neil Schon teamed up once again when Castronovo joined Journey. As well as drumming for the band, he performed as an occasional singer, showing off his vocal talents on the likes of Still They Ride, Mother, Father and Keep On Runnin.’ For the first 18 years, things couldn’t have gone better. Then, in 2015, Castronovo’s numerous addictions finally caught up with him. He was arrested and charged for domestic violence and harassment of his fiance, resulting in 15 days in jail, a stint in rehab, and his dismissal from the band. Reflecting on the experience with Billboard, Castronovo explained that he didn’t hold any grudges for his termination. “As heartbreaking as it was, I completely understood,” he said. “Journey has an impeccable legacy, and I’ve tarnished that legacy. They loved me and cared about me as a man — not just as a drummer and singer — to release me to get me the help I needed. I love them to death. They are my brothers. They will be for the rest of my life. As sad as it is — and it breaks my heart, because I can’t play with my brothers anymore — it had to be done.”
6. He’s back with the band
After a 6 year absence from Journey, Castronovo is back with the band. Schon teased his return this July when he posted a photo from rehearsals with the caption “Ok … Double trouble Chicago @NaradaMWalden @DeenTheDrummer Narada Michael Walden and the return of Deen Castronovo on Drums @AragonBallroom @lollapalooza.” A little while later, Schon confirmed the news by saying that Castronovo would be returning to full-time duties as a second drummer alongside Narada Michael Walden.
7. He’s been sober for over 5 years
Castronovo’s arrest in 2015 proved a turning point for the drummer. He’d done various stints in rehab before, but it had never stuck. This time, it did, and he’s been clean and sober ever since. Speaking to xsrock.com, he explained how the experience gave him the wake-up call he needed. “As horrendous as all of it was, the incident saved my life,” he explained. “There’s no excuse for what transpired. Drugs and alcohol turned me into a monster. Jail saved me, treatment changed me and God is restoring me.”
8. He’s super health-conscious
Castronovo’s days of drinking beer for breakfast are well and truly behind him. These days, he stays hyper-vigilant about everything he puts in his body, favoring a low-carb diet to keep the weight off and making plenty of time for his emotional, spiritual and physical health.
9. He’s worth $10 Million
Castronovo has been playing with bands since he was 16. He’s performed with Wild Dogs, Bad English, Hardline, Ozzy Osbourne, GZR, Revolution Saints, and Journey, and served as a session drummer for too many acts to mention. Clearly, all that hard work has paid off. Now aged 56, Castronovo is worth the enviable sum of $10 million.
10. He’s a metalhead
He may be best known as a rock musician, but at heart, Castronovo is a huge metalhead, citing Slipknot, Machine Head, and Fear Factory as some of his favorite bands.