Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez – Biography
Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez's professional drumming career began at age seventeen with
a USO tour to South Vietnam. At nineteen, he was playing in local big bands, the LACC
Studio Jazz Band and the Si Zenter Big Band. During the same time, Hernandez
played in a variety of pit orchestras and backing acts, like Bob Hope, Billy Daniels and
Gordon McCray. In the 1970s, he played with The Helen Reddy Band and served as
the house drummer of "The Midnight Special" television show. There, he played with
acts, such as Frankie Avalon, Petula Clark, Keith Carradine and Martin Mull.
When Helen Reddy hosted "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson," Hernandez had
the honor of sitting in with The Doc Severinsen Band. Playing the famous opening
theme song was a lifelong thrill.
After having been heard, drumming with Toni Basil's band by composer, Danny Elfman
and his longtime orchestrator, Steve Bartek, Hernandez was hired as a session drummer
on Elfman's first film score, "The Forbidden Zone" (which continues to have a
worldwide cult following). Hernandez joined the original lineup of the famous band,
Oingo Boingo, a position he held for seventeen years, until their breakup in 1995.
During that time, the band released eight albums, toured the world and played thousands
After the breakup of Oingo Boingo, Hernandez joined the band, Tito and Tarantula and
was featured in the Robert Rodriguez film, "From Dusk Till Dawn." He had a rewarding
time, touring Europe with Tito until 911, but at that point, he decided to return to Los
Angeles to play jazz again. In the 1990s, Hernandez returned to regular session work for
composers, like Jason Johnson, Steve Bartek and Bear McCreary. He was the drummer
for Bear McCreary's hugely popular "Battlestar Galactica" live orchestra concerts.
For the past seven years, Hernandez has been touring with his own, Boingo Dance
Party, a high energy, wild Oingo Boingo music show that features former members of
Oingo Boingo. As well, Hernandez is the drummer for the Don Kubec Big Band and
recently formed his own avant-garde group, Vlatko, featuring composer and arranger,
Michael Vlatkovich on trombone (with whom Hernandez has played professionally for
the past forty years). Vlatkovich is one of the leading talents among the Los Angeles
improvisational scene. Playing unrestricted free style music always will be good for
In November 2012, Hernandez received the esteemed "Los Angeles Certificate of
Recognition Award" from the Los Angeles City Council.