John Betsch was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1945 and presently lives in Paris. His mother was a church organist and pianist and his sister a dramatic soprano singer. John began playing drums at age nine and started playing professionally at 18 while a student at Fisk University. He continued his studies at the Berklee School of Music and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst under Max Roach and Archie Shepp; John also taught at U. Mass. and in state prison education programs.
Moving to New York City in '75, he played drums with the Ted Daniel big band, Jeanne Lee, Abbey Lincoln, Dewey Redman, and others. John has toured extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Africa, notably with Max Roach (Newport, '74), Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre ('76), Abdullah Ibrahim and Dewey Redman ('79), and Steve Lacy (for many years, up until Mr. Lacy's recent passing).
A partial John Betsch discography includes more than 3O recordings with Billy Bang, the John Betsch Society, Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim), Marilyn Crispell, Steve Lacy, Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre, Jim Pepper, Archie Shepp, Henry Threadgill, Mal Waldron, and others, on labels including Chiaroscuro, Enja, RCA Novus, Sackville, Soul Note, Strata East, and Verve.