The word prodigy comes from the Middle English word "prodigium," which translates into "monster" -- and that's exactly what 11-year-old Logan Gladden is behind a drum set. In the J&J's Pizza basement during the 35 Denton music festival on Sunday he's already twirling his drumstick with one hand and pointing the other at the crowd like he's done it since the day he was born. Granted, that's because he nearly has.
This percussion prodigy has done more at age 11 than most of us will likely accomplish in the entirety of our comparatively sad lives. So far he's played with Alice Cooper, made friends with KISS drummer Eric Singer and was once called a mini John Bonham by Howard Stern on America's Got Talent. Oh, and he's also got a sponsorship with the nearly ubiquitous drum set manufacturer Pearl Drums, just for kicks.
All of this from a mop-topped kid in a black vest and a shirt with Borromean rings -- which, of course, is Bonham's symbol from Led Zeppelin IV. Right now, it's only 3 p.m., but from the way Gladden is attacking the set he could just as well be headlining Ozzfest. While chomping on a stick of gum, he's flailing with precision between crash cymbals and the floor tom, all while mouthing along to Hot Coffin's lyrics.
For this performance, he was actually asked to guest drum in light of the absence of the band's regular drummer. With just one week to prepare, he rigorously rehearsed about five of the band's songs and loaded up his kit to play at J&J's on the tail end of 35 Denton. Gladden got involved in this show through Hall Music Productions, a music school in Southlake that features Denton musicians like Jessie Frye and Kaela Sinclair as teachers. That's where he met Hot Coffin lead singer Timothy Jarrod Smith, who turned to him when they needed a drummer. The band outputs the exact kind of hard rock that Gladden thrives on, preferring Black Sabbath and Zeppelin, so the adaptation was basically child's play for this kid.
Gladden's saga has been well-documented: he started playing drums at 18 months old, he was cast on Barney and Friends at age 5, and there's video of him playing through the Beatles and Zeppelin at age 6. His band the Robotix then put out an album in 2012, when he was 9. Along the way he's been featured on Ellen and Conan, and now at 11 he's already working on his band's next album while he's working on his jazz drum stylings on the side.
And because it can't just stop there, he also writes piano and vocal parts for many of the songs; he's even covered Beatles tracks on piano while singing. For original tracks he'll typically start on piano before even touching the drums. "I kind of end up playing drum fills on the piano with each note," Gladden says.
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Smith says working with Gladden has been surreal ("He's a real class act, it's crazy"), and when the group loaded up the instruments after the set, he automatically invites all his bandmates to the green room for a few beers. Then he catches himself and points to Gladden.
"Oh, wait. Never mind," Smith says. His young counterpart is momentarily crestfallen, but then Smith catches himself. "But there's pizza," he adds, and once more Gladden is his normal, happy self.
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