Thursday, April 5, 2012


I used to sing in a garage band when I was younger. In fact, we still get together once a year and play one weekend party thrown by my good friend, one of the guitar players, and a singer himself. The parties are fun and usually the band sounds good. Sometimes I lose my voice, but there are four other singers in the band. I digress. The drummers are always the nicest guys. Every drummer I've ever played with or known was just a great dude.

And totally essential. I've said before, and still believe, that you can have a great band with a great singer, a very good songwriter, and a good drummer. It's not that the rest isn't important. But you can get by with a sub-standard guitarist, mediocre bass and keys, if there's a drummer pushing everything forward. And when a band has a boring drummer, nothing can save it.

Yes I'm going with the drummer over the other instrumentalists. They make all the difference in the world. You know, for me. And did I mention what nice guys they are? I'm certain that it is happenstance alone that accounts for the fact that every drummer I've ever known was such a nice guy. There must also be the other kind.

There are those not flashy, perfect time-keepers, and the little flourishes they add are always perfect (Ringo Starr, Charlie Watts, Levon Helm). They may not be hotshots, but it's hard to find them anything but right for the song, every time. Then there are the wild men, jazz and vinegar-infused, verging on chaos, that make it impossible to imagine their bands without them (Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker, Keith Moon). Between are those classy percussionists that add so much flavor to everything they do (Ainsley Dunbar, Jim Brock, Clyde Stubblefield). And the thousands of others that fall into one of those categories. I suppose I've left out the outright bashers of hard metal that deserve their own space in the annals of drummerhood (Phil Rudd, John Bohnam, Lars Ulrich).

I know there are plenty of other categories, and I've left out lots of great drummers, but my point is they are really that important.

Look at Grand Funk- Songs, OK, singing, OK, drums, OK, guitar and bass, uh, well, ya know, limited utility. Don Brewer was holdin' down the fort. You really think the Who would have excited anybody without Moon? That arrogant Townsend might think so, but just listen to their music. I know it's a great band, and you can't really give any one person more credit, but they had the singer and the songwriter, and Townsend's guitar wasn't going to get the attention without Moon. Listen to Hendrix with Buddy Miles. Need I say more?

Drummers. If you don't have a good one, fuggedaboutit.

No comments:

Post a Comment