Former DOKKEN Drummer MICK BROWN: 'I Haven't Touched A Drum Stick In Two Years'

May 31, 2023

Former DOKKEN drummer "Wild" Mick Brown has opened up about his decision to retire from touring in 2019. At the time Mick said that he was "taking a break" from the road but implied that he would resume playing shows at a later date.

Brown, who turned 66 last September, reflected on his decision to stop playing music during a new appearance on the "Rimshots With Sean" podcast. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It's been about four and a half years [since I last played with DOKKEN]. I was 63 [at the time]. My body started developing pain from playing drums. And I was really getting tired and it was really hard to walk through airports. I'm still in a lot of pain — shoulder pain, some joint pain in the fingers, which have subsided now, except the walking part. And it didn't occur to me to stop. Although I just blurted out to Don [Dokken, DOKKEN leader], 'I've gotta stop doing this. I can't do it anymore.' And he got immediately, like, 'Wow. I'm surprised you even made it this far with what you did to yourself.'"

According to Mick, the injuries that he had sustained over the decades of playing drums had taken their toll on his body.

"I wouldn't have stopped if the pain wasn't there," he explained. "But the pain was, and it was getting too much for me. And the traveling — listen, after 40 years of traveling that fast [laughs], the last thing I wanted to do was go to another airport or sit in a van going to the hotel or on a tour bus. I was done. And I just let the higher power go, 'All right. You're done.' And I followed that. Everything I liked about it had kind of disappeared anyway. Like in today's world, Don wasn't using me on the records — the last couple of records. And I'm, like, 'I'm the drummer in the band. You're not gonna…?' 'Cause it cost money to fly me; it turned into that world. And it became a job. And I was, like, 'It's still a real good job.'

"I loved the creative part of working," he continued. "Like when Jeff [Pilson, former DOKKEN bassist] and George [Lynch, former DOKKEN guitarist] would write a song and deliver it to Don done and show him what we had, that was a really satisfying thing. That was gone. My roadie was gone. I had to set up a different drum set every day. It went full circle from what you did when you were 14 to 63. I'm, like, 'I'm back as a 14-year-old, except I'm really old. I have to set these drums up? Fuck that.'

"So I just [decided to stop playing]," Brown added. "And I'm telling you what, it's been the best choice… I really discovered life after all that because I didn't [do it] to prove anything and I got a chance to look at myself in the mirror and say, 'Who am I?' And now I've got this group of great friends in one place, so I can enjoy that."

Addressing what he does to keep himself busy nowadays, Brown said: "I have no ambition anymore, and I've never really been ambitious with anything except music. I make enough money where I don't have to do anything. And guess what? I don't do anything. I ride that chopper… That's really what my passion is. I do a lot of sleeping. And I don't have anything I have to do — except enjoy my friends today. It's that kind of a thing. That's where I'm at. And I couldn't be more pleased."

Brown went on to say that he feels extremely fulfilled, even though he is no longer playing music for a living. "I want everyone to know — I'm just having the time of my life," he said. "But I've always done that. But this is just as good.

"I haven't touched a drum stick in two years," Mick revealed. "Since I've retired, I've played two 'Highway To Hell's, three 'Rock And Roll's. And [my friend] Bobby makes me play with his band… we play 'River Of Love' by LYNCH MOB. So I've done six songs in four and a half years. But I'm done. I did it all… I did everything I wanted to do — tenfold more than I thought was gonna happen. Literally. And God, being able to get out, and looking back now, I'm so grateful. I literally cry tears of joy sometimes and just [think], 'Wow. I did that.'"

Last month, TESLA drummer Steve Brown, who is Mick's younger brother, spoke to Chaotic Riffs about his brother's decision to retire from touring. Regarding the physical challenges that forced Mick to retire from performing live, Steve said: "It's not so much the playing, but it's the travel on top of it. He's a lot bigger guy than I man, and cramming into airline seats for long flights… They would play in Washington state on a Friday and somewhere on the East Coast on a Saturday. Those two things, you just can't do it forever. And he's been doing it — what? Fifty years. So I was kind of surprised. To be honest with you, I thought he would do it till he just keeled over on stage one day.

'When [Mick] was playing with Ted Nugent at the same time [as DOKKEN] and trying to do both, he kind of got tired of that," he continued. "And then when the Ted thing was done, he stuck it out with Don as much as he could. But then just came a point where he just physically couldn't do it anymore. And both of us have the same type of thing — I have it worse. It's psoriatic arthritis. So it's an immune deficiency thing. And he kind of worked his way through it; it kind of passed. But I know the kind of pain that I'm in, so for him to continue on like that kind of untreated too — 'cause I take shots and I do this and that and try to stay ahead of it a little bit… And one thing is when you're sitting on a plane and then you've gotta get up, and you're, like, 'Oh, God.' [Laughs]

"So I wasn't surprised that he had decided to do [retire from touring]; I just didn't think he was gonna stick with it forever," Steve said. "And a couple of years later, I told my wife, I go, 'Let's go down and see him, see what's going on down there.' And he was great — and he was in the best possible mindset I've ever seen him in. And I thought, 'Well, there you go.' And soon after that he sold every piece of drum gear, everything he owns. And all of his friends that I run into out here, they're just, like, 'He really retired?' I'm, like, 'He doesn't even have drums. He doesn't even have drum sticks.' [Laughs]"

Earlier last month, Lynch dismissed the possibility of another reunion of the classic DOKKEN lineup, explaining to VintageRock Pod that "Mick has retired. He sold his drums, got rid of his drums. He doesn't play anymore. Maybe he goes and jams here and there. And for his own mental and physical health, he's just kind of disconnected from the whole world, and he doesn't return our calls. That's okay. I think that's probably what he needed to do, and I respect that. It's sad in a way, because we were friends for decades and built something together; we came up together. It was Mick and I before anybody else — before Jeff or Don. I would love to still be friends with him and maintain a relationship, but that's all right."

Lynch went on to say that he and Pilson "would probably" take part in another DOKKEN reunion if an opportunity and added that they "would do it with Steve Brown, which is Mick's brother, who we used on THE END MACHINE records. [He] looks just like Mick, plays just like Mick — a younger version of Mick. So that would work."

In October 2016, the classic lineup of DOKKEN reunited to play the Loud Park festival in Japan. Fortunately for fans outside of Japan, cameras were there to capture the performance and Frontiers Music Srl issued "Return To The East Live 2016" in April 2018. In addition to the Japanese performance, the set featured footage from the classic lineup's only U.S. show in September 2016 at Badlands in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The package also included a new song called "It's Just Another Day", the first DOKKEN track featuring the group's classic lineup since 1997's "Shadowlife", and two acoustic re-workings of classic tracks.

Since completing the Japanese reunion dates, DOKKEN has continued to perform with the group's current lineup — including bassist Chris McCarvill, guitarist Jon Levin and drummer BJ Zampa (HOUSE OF LORDS).

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