Rock and roll drummer Johnny Barbata saw a lot of the world before he settled down in Ada, Okla.
The drummer for such bands as the Turtles, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young will be holding a book signing this Saturday at Vintage 22.
“The book is called 'The Legendary Life of a Rock Star Drummer,'” Barbata said. “I’ve got stories in there about meeting the Beatles, Elvis ... I even met Albert Einstein when I was a kid.”
The then 3-year-old Barbata met Einstein when the famed physicist’s boat ran out of gas on a lake. Barbata said his family towed Einstein’s boat back to dock.
“I was sitting on his lap while he was talking to my mother,” he said.
The New Jersey boy would go on to achieve fame in his own right as a drummer for the Turtles.
“I was with them for 40 hits and eight singles, including ‘Happy Together’ which was the number one single of the year,” Barbata said. With the Turtles, he would also co-write the song, “Elenore.”
After the Turtles, Barbata went on to play for eight albums with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Among the albums he worked on with that group was their first live album, “4 Way Street.”
“David Crosby got me into Jefferson Airplane,” Barbata said. With Jefferson Airplane, Barbata played for five albums. The band eventually turned into Jefferson Starship and Barbata played on five albums with that group, including for the song “Miracles,” which reached number three on Billboard charts.
In addition to his work with these groups, Barbata also worked as a studio drummer with such names as Linda Ronstadt, the Everly Brothers, Johnny Rivers, Dave Mason, John Sebastian and Booker T.
Barbata said many stories of his adventures and misadventures with these groups are included in his book.