Rocky Patel is the founder of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, one of the biggest, and most-respected, cigar companies in the world.
Mr. Patel is not only a successful entrepreneur, he is also an avid musician hobbyist that loves to play drum and percussion.
We recently caught up with the ever-busy Rocky Patel and asked him about his life and his music.
Q: Where were you born?
New Delhi, India
Q: Where were you raised?
Green Bay, WI
Q: How did you get into the premium cigar business?
Working as an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles, and being on movie sets quite often, I began to notice that many of the celebrities were smoking cigars during the breaks and down time. It was during this period that I started smoking and enjoying cigars for the 1st time. I had some friends in Honduras and Costa Rica that were very knowledgeable about the cigar manufacturing process. Spending time with these friends, I fell in love with the art form of cigar making. Over the next few years, I spent a significant amount of time learning about the cigar blending process. I literally made 100's and 100's of blends to educate my pallet. I had many high profile, cigar connoisseur clients like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore to name a few, on whom I'd try out my different cigar blends. Over this time period I fell in love with the industry as an art form and the culture, which is very different than the dry practice of law.
Q: When did you start playing the drums?
I started playing drums when I was 11 or 12 years old. It was a fun hobby that I enjoyed very much growing up. I was self-taught, never had any lessons.
Q: Do you come from a musical family?
As a family we enjoyed music very much. My Mom was an excellent Sitar player
Q: What's your favorite 'drumming' story?
I have a lot of really cool drumming stories, but my favorite would have to be playing drums on stage with the Doobie Brothers 2 years ago at a concert in Sonoma, California. That was a blast, and a great one-of-a-kind experience.
Q: Describe your best experience at an open mic.
At this year's Super Bowl, I played drums for over 2 1/2 hours straight at a party. I was accompanying two dueling pianos at a cigar-friendly Super Bowl party.
Q: Do you regularly perform with a band?
No. But I do end up being an impromptu guest drummer all the time. My close friends know I enjoy playing the drums and bongos, and they call me up on stage when we're all together at parties that feature live music. I can't remember the last time I went to a party that featured a band that I wasn't called up on stage to jam with the band.
Q: How do you plan to combine your love for music with your passion for cigars?
In 2010, I opened my first cigar lounge - Burn by Rocky Patel, in Naples, Florida. Burn features live music almost every night, and when I'm not traveling to promote my cigar line, I love playing bongos at Burn.