Legendary local drummer Mark Panek considers himself to be the Kevin Bacon of the Altoona music scene. He says, "Pick a band and go back ten steps, it comes back to me."
He adds, "Music has been a part of my life for my entire life." He has played with numerous area bands from Altoona and surrounding areas, including Pittsburgh and all over the state, basically. He earned his Masters in Music Business and Songwriting from Berklee College of Music in Boston.
His CDs can be downloaded from various sites from Spotify to Napster. One of his bands has their own channel on Pandora Radio entitled False Icons Radio. Their CD entitled God Complex was a worldwide release on Megaforce Records in 2008 and was featured in the motion picture, Wicked Lake in 2010.
While he currently lives in Tennessee, Panek has worked with a lot of nationally recognized artists such as Marshall Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jo Dee Messina, Keith Urban and The Counting Crows. He counts among his close friends, Deborah Allen, who had a hit in 1983 with "Baby I lied" and Rikki Rockett from the 80's hair band Poison.
He started out playing with his family's band Johnny Panek's Orchestra. He says that it was more or less like a Partridge Family type of band. He adds that music in his family goes clear back to when his grandfather, Lakodia Panek, was abducted by gypsies and he had to play violin for his meals in Poland. "Then, my dad and my uncles all played instruments, mostly horns. So, a lot of my childhood was playing music." He recalls, "I really didn't have a lot of good friends. Music was the thing that I had always played. That is the only thing that I knew and it is the only thing that I will ever know."
To read the complete interview, check out our upcoming book release They Came From Blair County due out by the end of the year.
**Information for this article was obtained through a phone interview with Mark Panek
**Photos were provided by Mark Panek.