Slave To The Rhythm

Drumming and drummers to the fore


The best drummers often get overlooked.

Proof they’re doing the job well.

They’re driving the band, imbuing songs with feel and groove, keeping time and employing dynamics to advance the emotions of any chorus, middle eight, verse or single bar.

Largely anonymously.

Yes, we know about Ringo, perhaps still the most famous drummer in the world, but that was largely because he was a ‘pop star’, in the most famous band in the world.

Yet even within drumming circles, his undoubted skills and groove are questioned. It’s as if because he’s famous he’s over-rated.

I’ve interviewed some world-class drummers from the 1950, 1960s and 1970s who all point to Ringo as being the best. But does the average man in the street care about his drumming chops? Or simply that he is a surviving Beatle, the voice behind Thomas The Tank Engine and someone we’ve grown up with?

People know about Moonie with The Who because he was a character who transcended the music, hitting the front pages with his antics and proving a popular guest on chat shows. Somehow, he avoids the Ringo comparisons, but few realise how clever his drumming was, in perfect harmony to the point that his busy ‘over-playing’ never got in the way of Roger Daltrey’s vocals. Not all smash and grab.

We drummers tend to talk in reverence and reverie about John Bonham, but how many people have listened to Led Zeppelin albums, enthralled, but caring not one jot who the monster player is behind the kit?

In recent times, Chad Smith, of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, has managed to be recognisable, his easy charm and ready humour a shoe-in for telly appearances. There are others, but mostly the drummers are at the back, hidden behind toms, cymbals and hardware.

Who was it driving Adele’s Rolling In The Deep? Who’s the drummer on Boston’s More Than A Feeling? Who’s supplying the groove to Ed Sheeran’s record breaking run in the spring of 2017?

Drummers and musos will know…might know. But what about those albums which have been overlooked?

Most drummers I know talk about performances by the likes of session superstars Steve Gadd and John JR Robinson, of Bonham and Jeff Porcaro. They still worship at the altar of Deep Purple’s Ian Paice, remember Moonie and Cozy Powell fondly.

But what about the others?

That’s the reason for this page.

I hope you’ll enjoy it, have a listen to albums you might never have realised existed and appreciate performance – even if you don’t like the music. It’s never going to be to everyone’s taste.

Mark Forster

May 2017

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