Feeling a rush: Air drummer at Ravens game draws nearly 7 million views

Courtesy WROC-TV

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A couple of days ago, Peter Zirpolo was known for being the vice president of the Baltimore Ravens’ marching band.

Now, he's the most popular air drummer in history.

Zirpolo was caught on camera during the Ravens' season-opening 47-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, rocking out to Rush as the song "Tom Sawyer" blared at M&T Bank Stadium. In the driving rain, the hooded Zirpolo masterfully jammed on his imaginary drum kit, moving his arms up and down to the 1981 rock classic.

The 23-second video, which was posted by a Rochester, New York, sports anchor, went viral with 6.85 million views as of Tuesday night.

Zirpolo, 54, a systems analyst for a government contractor, was unaware of his instant fandom until a couple of friends texted him that he was all over Twitter.

"I looked it up, clicked on the link and I was like, ‘Oh my God,'" Zirpolo said.

His air drumming has gained so much attention that Rush's official account retweeted the video.

"I could not believe it," Zirpolo said. "The Professor [Rush drummer Neil Peart] is my idol. So when I saw that, I was like, 'No way. This is cool.'"

Even the Ravens are aware of the new star in their stadium.

"It was awesome," kicker Justin Tucker said. "He looked just like Neil Peart."

Zirpolo isn't a novice when it comes to actually picking up the sticks. He played drums from fourth grade through high school, joining a bunch of garage bands along the way.

A broken wrist coming out of high school ended his run as a drummer. He donated his kit to a local high school.

About 15 years ago, Zirpolo joined the Marching Ravens, along with his three kids. He stopped playing instruments five years ago and took an administrative role with the band. At games, he has been known to pretend he has a microphone while singing to AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long."

Around 10 years ago, Zirpolo was shown on the stadium's video boards doing the air drums.

"It’s not the first time I’ve gotten caught," Zirpolo said.

This is the first time that he has become an internet sensation. During Monday Night Football, Zirpolo kept track of the views along with Jordyn Johnson, the Ravens' coordinator of events and entertainment, and Daniel Fake, the band's musical director.

The numbers jaw-droppingly went from 200,000 views to 300,000 to 500,000.

"I know the power of social media," he said. "It’s incredible, especially with something this silly. Thank God, it’s been all positive."

A few commenters have critiqued his technique and his timing in striking his pretend cymbals.

What are Zirpolo's future plans now that everyone will be looking for him at games?

"The air drumming will be continuing," Zirpolo said. "I’m not going to hide in a corner."