Every music band relies on its drummer to create the rhythm of the music. The drummer is often the most exuberant of characters and history has produced many drummers who have become as recognizable as the groups lead singers.
Many of the great drummers emerged as the new heavy rock bands were formed in the 1960s and 1970s. The new music required a fast and heavy tempo and this was created by these musicians who worked with great energy. One of the first great drummers to emerge was Ginger Baker who first rose to prominence in the band “Cream” which he created. Baker first trained as a jazz drummer and his career saw him take many different musical directions.
He lived in Africa for several years where he played with Fela Kuti as he followed his passion for African rhythm. He even played with “Public Image Ltd” who were one of the more extreme punk groups. His skill as a drummer will be remembered for his solo on the “Cream” single “Toad”.
Just as well-known as Ginger Baker was Keith Moon, the drummer with “The Who”. The band’s music gave Moon the platform to perform at a fast and frenetic tempo in which he thrived. He built up a huge drum kit, although some of his performances saw him damaging his own kit.
He was as effervescent in his personal life, but sadly his excesses took their toll and he died at the age of 31 in 1978 as a result of a drugs overdose. He was the second drummer to be inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of fame and in 2011 he was voted by the readers of Rolling Stone as the second greatest rock drummer ever.
The drummer voted as the greatest by the readers of the same magazine was John Bonham. Bonham’s most successful years as a drummer were with “Led Zeppelin” the group that were one of the founding members of heavy metal music. Many of their records reflected the quality of Bonham’s work and he was instrumental in much of the bands early success. However in 1980 after consuming vast amounts of vodka, he was found dead in the home of “Led Zeppelin’s” Jimmy Page in the United States.
In terms of playing on hit records, no drummer has been as successful as Hal Blaine who played with the session group “the wrecking crew”. The group played with all of the major record producers such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, and it is believed that Blaine’s performances appeared on around 35,000 records, which included 40 number one singles.
The emergence of punk rock music in the late 1970s also produced some fine drummers. None were more talented than Stewart Copeland who played in the new wave band “the Police”. The son of an American diplomat who was raised in the Middle East, he was able to utilize his rather unique upbringing to produce a drumming style that was both successful, and entirely his very own.