BY RADIM MCCUE
Former Rollins Band Drummer Spent Eight Years Performing In Blue Man Group’s Las Vegas Production
Jason Mackenroth, the powerhouse drummer for Rollins Band from 1998 to 2004 who went on to release two solo albums and enjoy an eight-year run with Blue Man Group, passed away at home in Henderson, Nevada on Sunday, January 3, 2016 after a nearly four-year battle with prostate cancer. A memorial service will be held in the Las Vegas area later this month. Details will be announced shortly. Plans are also in the works for a benefit concert, which will take place later this year.
Jason is survived by his wife Janet (“Jaye”) Mackenroth and their two sons, Javan and Joren, as well as his father and mother, Dave and Gail Mackenroth, and siblings Anne Dunlap, Scott Mackenroth and Arlene Mackenroth. A GoFundMe campaign is underway here to help Janet and Joren Mackenroth with expenses so they can remain in Nevada until Joren graduates from high school in June 2016.
Born in Sacramento, California on May 9, 1969, Jason Mackenroth got his start playing drums in high school and went on to play center snare with the Sacramento Freelancers, a highly ranked DCI Drum and Bugle Corps. After moving to Los Angeles in 1989, he co-founded Mother Superior, a power pop trio that attracted the attention of Henry Rollins. The punk singer and author produced two Mother Superior albums and eventually asked the three musicians to join him in Rollins Band. Mackenroth was with Rollins Band for seven albums and four world tours. One of the highlights of this period was the recording of 2002’sRise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three, which found the band backing Black Flag’s Rollins, Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski along with an astounding array of guest vocalists, including Iggy Pop, Ice T, Tom Araya of Slayer, Exene Cervenka and Motorhead’s Lemmy.
After leaving Rollins Band and Mother Superior, Mackenroth formed his own band, Mack, which revealed him to be a talented vocalist and songwriter also. Mack’s self-titled debut album was released in 2005. 2011’s Pay to Play was hailed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal as “a modern-day update of the harder edges of Kiss’ ’70s catalog…powered by shout-along hooks, octopus-armed drumming and lots of fist-in-the-air guitar soloing…a visceral, overheated, organic-sounding recording.”
Mackenroth spent more than eight years with Blue Man Group, performing as a band musician in the Las Vegas production. He was also a kit drummer on the “Megastar World Tour” and at Blue Man Group’s 2013 Hollywood Bowl debut. His knowledge of music was encyclopedia and his passion and dedication were unsurpassed – he continued to perform with Blue Man Group throughout his illness. Blue Man Group Las Vegas ended its January 3 show with a tribute to Jason.
In the course of his career, Mackenroth also recorded with such artists as funk legend George Clinton, The Lovemakers and Robert Bradley and toured with Grammy-winning producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Neville Brothers, Bob Dylan) and MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer.
A longtime champion of music education, Jason taught private lessons over the years and was honored to perform at KISS Night In Las Vegas III – a 2014 benefit for the non-profit Imagine, which funds music education programs in Las Vegas area schools. He played drums on three tracks of the 2015 benefit CD, KISS Night In Las Vegas.