RJ divides his time producing, performing, and teaching drums/percussion. He has a teaching studio in San Anselmo, California where he teaches all styles of drums and percussion. RJ teaches privately and does workshops at Bay Area high schools and music academies.
RJ has co-billed with a number top name artists and groups including Chuck Berry, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Paul Butterfield, Neil Young, Edgar Winter, Moby Grape, Johnnie Winter, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jefferson Starship and Grateful Dead.
RJ is currently performing with the Billy Love Express, an original nine-piece horn and vocal driven band featuring the songs of singer/songwriter Billy Bramblett and with Mari Mack & Livin’ Like Kings, an all-star horn driven blues review featuring powerhouse vocalist Mari Mack Tamburo and esteemed record producer/bassist Arne Frager. In addition, RJ plays out regularly with his latin jazz quartet Allegro Picante’.
RJ FRANCO began his formal music education in Detroit, Michigan at the age of twelve. He studied drums with Berklee faculty alum. Gene Stuart for four years. From age 16, RJ performed with a number of Detroit based blues and r&b bands and hung out with Motown session drummers Uriel Jones and Benny Benjamin. He later attended Michigan State University where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree. At MSU he studied composition, arranging, mallet instruments and trapset with faculty director/percussionist Mark Johnson.
After moving to San Francisco, RJ studied privately with renowned Bay Area drum maestro Chuck Brown and drummer/recording artist George Marsh. He studied North Indian Classical Music and Tabla for three years with master musicians Ali Akbar Khan, Allah Rakha and Zakir Hussain at the famed Ali Akbar College of Music. He also studied African, Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, and Brazilian percussion with master percussionist/composer Kenneth Nash. Among his many accomplishments, RJ was a featured soloist with the International Ballet Folklorio and was a percussionist with DIGA, a group led by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.