9-year-old drummer Jonathan “Rocks” Frederick of Oldsmar is quickly living up to his nickname, as the young prodigy has already jammed with some of the biggest names in heavy metal history.
9-year-old drumming prodigy Jonathan Frederick, a.k.a Jonathan Rocks, of Oldsmar, is quickly living up to his nickname.
9-year-old drummer Jonathan Frederick, a.k.a. “Jonathan Rocks,” of Oldsmar, may look like a baby-faced boy bander.
But don’t let the spiky blonde hair and charming smile fool you—the fourth grader’s musical tastes lean more towards Black Sabbath than the Backstreet Boys.
Frederick, who attends Oldsmar Christian School, where he is a straight-A student, fell in love with the drums after visiting the Sam Ash Music Store in Clearwater with his dad, Jeff, when he was five years old.
Four-plus years later, the young prodigy has already played a number of gigs around the state, at times sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in heavy metal history, and he admitted he loves playing the drums so much, he often subconsciously bangs out beats everywhere he goes.
9-year-old drummer Jonathan Rocks played the Oldsmar Days and Nights festival in April.
“I can’t stop doing it,” Jonathan recently told Oldsmar Connect. “Wherever I am, I’m always banging on something, my desk or some books.
“Sometimes it drives my teachers nuts. But I tell them I can’t help it. I don’t even realize I’m doing it!”
Jonathan’s passion for music comes from his parents, who have taken him to a slew of concerts over the years; soon after their son’s love of drumming emerged, Jeff and his wife, Vanessa, bought him an electric set and signed him up for lessons with a prominent local instructor.
Years of practice sessions, both with private teachers and in a makeshift soundproof room at his home off of Tampa Road, combined with his natural talent, quickly helped Jonathan become proficient with a set of drumsticks in his hand, and his parents eventually bought him a more advanced acoustic kit.
“We made it clear school would come first,” Jeff said. “He knows if he were a “C” student, he’d still be on an electric kit.”
As he improved his playing and honed his act, Frederick admitted it didn’t take much to get his son up on stage; in fact, the soon-to-be 10-year-old has played at venues such as the recent Oldsmar Days and Nights festival, the annual Golf Fest at Tampa Bay Downs, and the Rock and Brews show in Orlando.
Jonathan Frederick, a.k.a. Jonathan Rocks, drew a crowd at the Oldsmar Days and Nights festival last month.
“I hit up local promoters and let them know what he can do,” he said.
“A lot of times when they first see him, they’re doubtful. But when they see his play list, and they see his skill and his love for playing, they’re impressed.”
Frederick said his son’s look, plus the “Jonathan Rocks” stage persona, which comes complete with an illuminated drum kit, a smoke show, and a colorful, original logo, has helped get him noticed.
This logo, designed by Jeff Frederick, is a big part of Jonathan’s act. Credit: Jonathan Rocks/Facebook.
“It’s really a visual thing,” Jeff said.“The hair, the pants, the shirt, the lights. People really get into it.”
But according to his father, it’s Jonathan’s skills, and his penchant for playing headbanging classics by the likes of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Motley Crue and AC/DC, that have allowed him to share the stage with the likes of Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden.
“Not a lot of kids his age are doing what he’s doing,” Frederick said. “There are maybe 10 in the country that are his age, playing his style at his skill level.”
“There are many singers and guitarists doing it, but not many drummers. So it’s a very niche market, and Jonathan is slowly getting noticed because of that.”
For his part, Jonathan acts like being a budding drumming sensation is just another part of everyday life.
“It’s exciting,” he said, noting he rarely gets nervous before gigs as he overcame any stage fright long ago.
Jonathan and his dad, Jeff Frederick, at an Iron maiden concert. Credit: Jonathan Rocks/ Facebook.
Jonathan said he understands he’s got to keep his grades up in order to continue leading the scaled down version of a rock and roll lifestyle.
But he also has aspirations outside of the music world.
“When I get older I want to be in a band and write my own songs, but I also want to be a car designer,” he said, and it’s easy to envision him as the next Elon Musk rather than the next Nicko McBrain, who has served as Jonathan’s idol and mentor.
For now, Jeff Frederick said he and Vanessa will encourage Jonathan as long as he wants to continue playing and he keeps his grades up, although they won’t discourage him if he ever decides to hang his sticks up for good.
“We’re focusing on him wanting to do it,” Frederick said, noting Jonathan has other interests, including karate, where he recently earned his brown belt.
“But right now, he’s a little guy doing a hard thing, and he’s enjoying it. And that’s pretty cool.”
For more information on Jonathan Rocks, visit his You Tube and Facebook pages.
Ed note: This article has been amended to reflect the correct type of drum kit Jonathan started out on, as well as the bands he has shared the stage with.