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Rock and Roll Saturday – Drummers

April 9, 2011

From the first day Disk Jockey Alan Freed coined the phrase, Rock & Roll, the unsung hero of every outfit has been the drummer.

He’s also the hardest working man on stage. Show after show, the drummer sets the beat and the foundation of every strum of the guitar, every pluck of the bass.

With a few exceptions, he is the least known man (or woman) in the band — Tommy Lee, Phil Collins and Mickey Hart (and Dolenz) come immediately to mind.

I look at Ringo Starr as the first superstar drummer, even though he was, at best, a journeyman at the craft.

Before you go much further, take this little test. Try to think of as many drummers you can name and the band they play(ed) in. There should be a few names you can rattle off quickly.

That’s the first thing I did before taking off on this project. I was able to come up with a few names, including those already mentioned:

Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)

Don Henley (Eagles)

Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Asia)

Nick Mason (Pink FLoyd)

Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones)

Levon Helm (The Band)

Keith Moon (The Who)

Ginger Baker (Cream)

Butch Trucks (Allman Brothers)

John Bonham (Led Zeppelin – and son Jason)

Neil Peart (Rush)

Neal Smith (Alice Cooper)

Don Brewer (Grand Funk Railroad)

After you’ve made your list, check out this list of Drummers at Wiki. I was shocked at how many I didn’t know or ever heard of.

I did see one surprise in particular. Karen Carpenter is listed as a drummer.

A few little tidbits from the world of drummers.

Ed Cassidy of Spirit may very well be Rock & Roll’s oldest performing drummer. Born in LA in 1923, Cassidy will occasionally sit down at a drum set even today. In his career he has done bit parts in movies and performed a short stint on ABC’s General Hospital. He continues to reside in Southern California and continues to write and communicate with fans.

Neal Smith of the Alice Cooper Band (This year inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame) is today a very successful realtor in New England.

Shelia E. who came to fame during her musical stint with Prince, was the Season 3 winner of the CMT reality show, Gone Country. A video for her country song, Glorious Train, debuted on CMT on March 7, 2009.

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich moved from his home in Germany to LA when he was sixteen to pursue his dream of playing professional tennis. Lucky for the music world, those dreams shifted when Ulrich placed an ad in local newspaper looking for musicians to form a band. As a result he met future Metallica guitarist James Hetfield and the roots of Metallica were born.

Ulrich will make his acting debut in the HBO original film Hemingway & Gellhorn, which began filming in March 2011. It stars Nicole Kidman and Clive Owens.

A story revolving around Rolling Stone’s drummer Charlie Watts, goes like this…

It is said that Watts had been in the throes of alcohol and drug abuse from quite sometime in the mid-80s. As the story goes, an intoxicated Mick Jagger called Charlie’s hotel room in the middle of the night wanting to know where “His drummer” was. Watts reportedly got up, shaved, dressed in a suit, put on a tie and freshly shined shoes, descended the stairs, punched Jagger in the face and said, “Don’t ever call me your drummer again. You’re my f*ing singer!” Charlie cleaned up his act and at almost 70 years old still rocks the drum set. Although no Rolling Stones tour is scheduled, it would not surprise me to see Charlie and his singer back on stage.

A pretty decent overall view of the drum world is found at Drummer World magazine.

I want to dedicate today’s blog to John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) and Keith Moon (The Who), both victims of Rock and Roll excess.

Drum roll please…

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2 Comments
  1. April 9, 2011 12:33 pm

    I adore Don Henley and yet I had no idea he was the Eagles’ drummer!

  2. Diane permalink
    April 9, 2011 7:20 pm

    Simply LOVED this.

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