Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My favorite Drummers

So this could have easily been one of my first posts but I figured I would wait until I got the blog off the ground a bit. These are MY favorite drummers so I am sure there will drummers that may be omitted and some wondering why (e.g. Lars Ulrich). So here it goes.

  1. Neal Peart: the single most influential drummer in my drumming career. I have emulated his style for many years including adding things to my drum set such as a xylophone so I could play those parts from songs like Xanadu and A Farewell to Kings. I wore out 2 copies of A Farewell to Kings on cassette going over and over it. I am still in awe of his playing after all of these years. I am currently learning Jacobs Ladder which is no easy feat due to shifting time signatures. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Xanadu, A Farewell to Kings, Freewill, YYZ, 2112, Natural Science, By Tor and the Snow Dog, Marathon, Show Don't Tell, Something For Nothing, Subdivisions, Analog Kid, Spirit of the Radio, The Camera Eye, Fly By Night, Limelight, Red Barchetta, Distant Early Warning, Anthem, Beneath, Between, Behind, and The Weapon (to name a few).

  2. Mike Portnoy: the second most influential drummer. After playing Peart for so many years I discovered Dream Theater and went from there. Portnoy is Peart on steroids. Lots of double bass which I really wanted to learn more of. Later, I was watching one of his instructional DVD's and finally began to understand how to play in odd time signatures. This made it easier to go back on many of those Rush songs I had for all those years and truly understand how to play through the parts by counting it out. Many of his parts are WAY too complicated to even start learning because I don't practice enough. Portnoy also has lots of side projects to glean drum parts from which makes him that much more versatile. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Under a Glass Moon, Panic Attack, Home, New Millennium, Burning My Soul, A Change of Seasons, This Dying Soul, As I Am, Pull Me Under, Metropolis Part 1 and The Test That Stumped Them All (to name a few).

  3. Gavin Harrison: a relative new comer to my pantheon of drummers but is quickly becoming one of my favorites. His main gig right now is the drummer of Porcupine Tree. What makes Gavin so amazing is his fluidity even while playing difficult odd-time parts. He has a method he calls “overloading” that makes odd time almost danceable. He is a student of drums and is always perfecting his craft. One of the coolest things he does is doubles on both bass pedals (think John Bonham in Good Times Bad Times but with both feet), very cool. He has awesome chops but doesn't overplay the song which works for DT but not PT. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Halo, Bonnie the Cat and The Sound of Muzak (that is as far as I have gotten).

  4. Jason Rullo: once I started playing prog and prog metal, Symphony X become one of my favorite bands. They just plain kick ass. Jason can play serious metal and sprinkle in some complicated odd time for good measure. I can only play certain songs that are not too fast (I am still working on my double bass speed). Some songs I enjoy playing include: Inferno (Unleash the Fire), Sea of Lies, Out of the Ashes and Serpent's Kiss. Kick Ass drummer.

  5. John Bonham:One of my first drum idols; there is not much more you can say that hasn't been said. His shear power and ability to take a simple drum beat and make it sound like there are 2 drummers. I have played many of LZ songs over the yeas but it was not until recently I really came to appreciate Fool in the Rain from the In Through the Out Door album. It is a shuffle beat that sounds like total crap if the ghost notes are not there. I have taught myself a bit if the shuffle beat but I am still way behind what he did. Some of my favorite songs to play include: How Many More Times, In My Time of Dying, Achilles Last Stand, Sick Again, Poor Tom, We're Gonna Grove and Immigrant Song (to name just a few).

  6. Ian Paice: In the very beginning I loved Deep Purple almost as much as I love Led Zeppelin (almost). However, much of Bonham's drum parts were too hard for me so I played Deep Purple. The only album I had by them for many years was Live: Made In Japan. To me it is THE best live album ever made. I played that entire album and loved Paice's chops. I can remember how happy I was when I finally got this little part during a slow section of Space Truckin'. I tried every song on that album except The Mule since it was a drum solo and I could not even fathom what he was playing at the time. The songs include: Highway Star, Child In Time, Space Truckin', Smoke on the Water (the best version ever), Strange Kind of Woman and Lazy.

  7. Kieth Moon: by far the sloppiest drummer but a total manic with endless energy. His drum parts were essentially one long drum roll which played right into my style of playing (or overplaying as some have said; screw them :) He was a huge part of why The Who were so over the top and why I love them. I watched them perform in the Woodstock video and was just awestruck at the energy he had and his playfulness behind the kit. I always tried to emulate that in my playing. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Pinball Wizard, Baba O'Reilly, We Don't Get Fooled Again (one of my all-time favorites on the drums), Who Are You, Sparks and of course My Generation.

  8. Dave Lombardo: while the drummer from Slayer never really had a direct impact on my playing, his style made me want to play metal. His double bass is stuff of legend and I only wish I could play like that. So other than the 2 songs, Dead Skin Mask and Seasons in the Abyss, I can't physically play most of his other stuff because it is too fast for me :(

  9. Barrie "Barriemore" Barlow: Not a household name by any means but he is the phenomenal drummer from Jethro Tull in the 70's. I knew I liked prog fairly quickly and once I had my xylophone I could also play some Jethro Tull with it in there. Some songs I enjoyed playing include: Baker Street Muse, some of Thick as a Brick, Minstrel in the Gallery, Pibroch (Cap in Hand) , Heavy Horses, and No Lullaby.

  10. Mitch Mitchell: another early influence, I loved Jimi Hendrix and much of it came from Mitch. He was more reserved than Keith Moon but had that wild side as well. Mitch also had a soft side which he was very good at in songs such as The Wind Cries Mary. Some of my favorite songs to play include: Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), Crosstown Traffic, Foxy Lady, Purple Haze, If 6 was 9, Third Stone from the Sun, and Spanish Castle Magic.

  11. Danny Carey: another relative late comer to my drummer pantheon, the drummer from Tool is great. He is a master of polyrhythms and blending metal with mellow. Danny has a style that is very different than mine (he was trained) so he uses a lot of drum rudiments that I don't know. For that reason I really have only tried a few of there songs including: Forty 6 & 2, Sober, Hooker with a Penis, Parabola, and Lateralus.

Notable others that I like but did not make the list (in no particular order): Mark Zonder (Fates Warning), Alex Van Halen, Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy, others), Mike Mangini (Extreme, now Dream Theater), Phil Collins (early Genesis stuff), Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction), Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Kirk Arrington (Metal Church), Virgil Donati (he is just sick), Buddy Rich, Sheila E (Prince, solo), Randy Castillo (Ozzy), John Densmore (The Doors), Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard), Chris Quirarte (Redemption), Alan White (Yes), Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Jeremy Colson (Dali's Dilemma), Bernard Huber (Dreamscape), Artimus Pyle (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Stuart Copeland (The Police), Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) and the list goes on and on.

What do you think? I am sure I have missed some that you might have put on the list. Please let me know. Thanks.


  1. Since my musical tastes tend more to prog and even jazz rock my list would be/is considerably different.

    1. Mike Portnoy - Couldn't agree with you more. Not being a drummer myself there are very few bands I started listening to because of the drumming... Dream Theater tops that list and it's because of Portnoy. Favorite songs with Portnoy on drums: Another Dimension (LTE), Home (Dream Theater), The Glass Prison (Dream Theater)

    2. Jeff Porcaro - He was doing sessions with Steely Dan at age 16 he was a monster groove drummer and is sorely missed. My favorite examples of Porcaro's drumming are predominantly on Toto's Kingdom of Desire which he had just finished recording at the time of his death in 1992. If you only ever own 1 Toto album-- knowing your musical tastes, Brett-- that's the one to own!

    3. Danny Seraphine - Seraphine started out predominantly as a rock drummer but being in Chicago with their jazz and classical influences he worked with guys like Elvin & Jo Jones to learn and improve his brush technique for Chicago's more jazz-tinged music. In the 80s when the synth craze kicked in, Danny taught himself MIDI sequencing and drum programming... So even though the drums were being programmed, they were at least being programmed by a drummer. I admire his survival instinct and his willingness and desire to adapt to remain viable in a changing musical marketplace. Favorite Chicago songs with Danny: I'm a Man (Chicago Transit Authority), Motorboat to Mars (Chicago III)Now That You've Gone (Chicago V)

    4. Simon Phillips - When Porcaro died, Toto could have found another groove drummer of the same vein. Porcaro had plenty of disciplies/followers it would not have been difficult. Instead they found a drummer with a completely different style and changed their musical direction to fit his style of drumming. Phillips brought new life to the band but it's also his session work that catches my ear. My favorite material with Phillips includes: Better World Pts. 1-3 (Toto), Free (Asia, off their Aura album).

    5. Carl Palmer - I got into Palmer initially through his work with Asia in the 80s but that led me to explore his work with ELP in the 70s. His work on Brain Salad Surgery & Tarkus in particular is fantastic.

    6. Rick Allen - I can't help but respect a guy who re-taught himself to drum with only 1 arm and a crazy assed kit with a ton of foot pedals to allow him to do with his feet at least some of what he used to do with his left arm. And I can't help but respect a band like Def Leppard for sticking by Rick after losing his arm. A lot of other bands might not have done the same thing.

  2. Perplexio, its funny, after I made the list I remembered Simon Philips (saw him with The Who back in 89) and Jeff Porcaro (the king of the shuffle). Carl Palmer is awesome but I an not a big enough fan to know his works. I also forgot Terry Bozzio who played with Zappa for many years. I am sure I will keep adding to the list. Great list. Thanks.

  3. All great drummers on your list! The inclusion of Barriemore Barlow gets you a salute from me as a huge Tull fan,and of course Buddy Rich is the guv'nor. If I may,I'll toss in my two cents for the Appice brothers and Dino Danelli formerly of the Young Rascals.

  4. john, I too am a huge fan of Jethro Tull. For many years I never knew the drummer's name but I still love playing Baker's Street Muse to this day. That and No Lullaby's are two of my (many) favorite drum parts by Barriemore. I know the Appice biys are very good, I just don't know enough by them to make a judgment. I only know Carmine from a drum practice book I borrowed many years ago but had trouble with because I could not read that stuff (still can't for the most part).