I was born the 13th of May 1935, in Groningen, the Netherlands. We were with thirteen kids, me being the eldest. I come from a musical family, those who played the drums were all self-taught. Because, you know, money was tight, so we couldn't afford costly lessons. My grandpa was the drummer in a Salvation Army Band. My father, John Engels senior, was a very distinguished drummer, I'd say one of the greatest, back in the thirties and later. Also his brother and two of mine brothers and my youngest sister, we all play the drums.
Whenever there was a jazz concert my father took me along. The 1950 Duke Ellington concert, for instance and the Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts