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The Caw: This Ravens Band Member’s Air Drumming Has Gone Viral

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Pete Zirpolo is everything I want to be.

Sitting in the pouring rain during the first quarter of Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Bills, the 54-year-old Zirpolo was rocking out to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” as it blared over the M&T Bank Stadium loudspeakers.

It wasn’t just some lame air drumming that anybody could do. Zirpolo was absolutely nailing it.

Thank God somebody (a Rochester, N.Y. sports anchor covering the Bills) caught this on camera.

That video now has nearly 4 MILLION views. There’s a story about him on Time.com. Even Rush has taken notice.

When I called Zirpolo and told him I was looking to write a story, he just started laughing.

“I’ve gone viral,” he said. “What do I do?”

So here’s the brief bio on Zirpolo. He grew up on Long Island as a huge Rush fan in the late 70s, early 80s. They are still his “absolute favorite” band, though he’s never seen them in concert. He could basically air drum “Tom Sawyer” in his sleep.

“I do it in the car, actually,” the Parkville, Md., resident said. “When I buy a car, that’s the drumming I do on the steering wheel and dashboard to see if it sounds good.”

Not surprisingly, he grew up a drummer. Zirpolo was in a couple garage bands in junior high and high school that never went anywhere.

His drumming days tragically ended, however, when he broke his wrist a while back. He donated his kit to a local high school. He joined the Marching Ravens, along with his three kids, but was moved to the cymbals and then sousaphone.

“I’m strictly an air drummer now,” he said.

Five years ago, he moved out of the music playing business and became the Marching Ravens’ vice president, in charge of logistics, the budget, etc. For some reason, he just doesn’t seem like a logistics guy to me.

As an air guitarist myself (yeah, that’s right, I’ve entered competitions), I wondered about the range of his skills.

“I challenge you to an air guitar competition,” he boasted. “It’s close, but I’m probably better at air drumming. But I’m always air drumming, air guitaring, lip syncing. I do it all.”

Man, I love this guy.

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