Donald James Bonebrake (yes, that is his real name) grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. He began drumming at the age of 12 and studied classical and traditional music while playing in various rock n roll bands. DJ entered the Los Angeles underground music scene in the mid-1970's when Charlotte Caffey and Joe Ramirez saw his band, Rocktopus, at Immaculate Heart College. They asked him to join their group, The Eyes, and it wasn't long before members of X caught The Eyes playing at the Masque and asked DJ to be X's drummer. After several years of touring and recording X took a brief hiatus and DJ began earnestly building his reputation as a talented and dependable live performance and session musician, playing drums, percussion, and mallet instruments with a variety of musicians and music groups. Today, in addition to playing drums, DJ is gaining a reputation as a talented vibraphonist, playing in both jazz and rock and roll settings.
DJ is a founding member and vibraphonist for the Latin-flavored jazz ensemble Orchestra Superstring. The band is currently performing in venues throughout Southern California including McCabe's Guitar Shop, The Knitting Factory, Fais Do Do, Temple Bar, The Continental, and the Bigfoot Lodge. Orchestra Superstring are Paul Eckman (bass); Danny Frankel (bongos/percussion); Debra Dobkin (percussion); Mike Bolger (trumpet, trombone, accordion); Woody Jackson (guitar); Victor Bisetti (percussion) and Don Heffington (percussion).
D.J. also plays vibraphone in the Bonebrake Syncopators, a quartet that performs jazz from the early eras, including tunes such as 'Honeysuckle Rose', 'Three Little Words', and 'Sweet Georgia Brown'. Personnel include T.K. Smith on electric guitar, Jeremy Wakefield on steel guitar, Wally Hersom on upright bass, and Dave Stuckey on drum kit. The Bonebrake Syncopators create an eclectic sound that combines traditional jazz, be-bop, and western swing.
Some of DJ's recording sessions : Sessions with a varied group of performing artists including John Doe, Billy Zoom, Exene Cervenka, Michael Penn, Rip Masters, Jason Everley, Michael Blake, Eleni Mandell, Anne Magnuson, Viggo Mortensen, Syd Straw, Joe Strummer (for the "South Park" television show), John Lee Hooker (for the Doors tribute album "Stoned Immaculate"), Steve Wynn ("Kerosene Man"), The Germs ("What We Do is Secret"), Phranc ("Positively Phranc"), Eliza Gilkyson ("Misfits"), Skip Heller ("Skip Heller/D.J. Bonebrake Quartet"), Auntie Christ ("Life Could Be A Dream"), The Dark Bob, Three Bad Jacks, The Knitters, Elliot Caine, Orchestra Superstring (self-titled CD released on Dionysus Records), Rikki Lee Jones, Paula Cole, Three Bad Jacks, Steven Bernstein's "Diaspora Hollywood", and many others.
Partial list of performances: Performances with X (including numerous music videos, appearances on American Bandstand, the David Letterman Show, Midnight Special, MTV, the Conan O'Brien Show and others), Michael Penn (including the Arsenio Hall Show and the video "This and That"), Victoria Williams (including the "Tonight Show"), Wanda Jackson, Big Sandy, Doug Fieger, Katey Moffet, Dave Alvin, Syd Straw, the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble, Rufus Wainwright, Steve Wynn, Anne Magnuson, Bo Diddley, Jimmie Wood and the Immortals, Lysa Flores, Rip Masters, Ray Campi, Continental Drifters, The John Doe Thing, James Intveld, Skip Heller, John Densmore, Three Bad Jacks, The Knitters, Bonebrake Syncopators, Orchestra Superstring, and many others. In 2001 D.J. was a member of the house band of musicians supporting the Harry Smith Project, a two-day performance at Royce Hall. The house band consisted of Bill Frizzell, Smokey Hormel, Ralph Carney, Larry Taylor, and Steven Hodges, and the band backed up Marianne Faithfull, Beck, Todd Rundgren, Steve Earle, Phillip Glass, David Johansen, Robin Holcomb, David Thomas, the McGarrigle Sisters, Garth Hudson, Eric Mingus, and others.
Film : In 1985 Angel City productions released their full-length feature about the band X titled "The Unheard Music", and featuring all four-band members. X also appeared in "Urgh-A Music War" and Penelope Spheeris' "Decline of Western Civilization".
Film Soundtrack Performances : "The X Files", "G.I. Jane", "Wall Street", "Star Maps", "Border Radio", "Big League", "Something Wild", "Roadside Prophets", "American History X", "Boys Don't Cry", and others.