Erskine was born in Somers Point, New Jersey, U.S. He began playing the drums at the age of four. He graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, then studied percussion at Indiana University. His professional music career started in 1972 when he joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra. After three years with Kenton, he joined Maynard Ferguson for two years. In 1978, he joined Weather Report, joining Jaco Pastorius in the rhythm section. After four years and five albums with Weather Report and the Jaco Pastorius big band’s Word of Mouth, he joined Steps Ahead.
He was featured on Kate Bush‘s 2005 album Aerial, where Erskine teamed with bass player Eberhard Weber. Diana Krall, Eliane Elias, Queen Latifah and Linda Ronstadt, as well as Scottish and Finnish classical orchestras, have had Erskine perform as a featured musician.