A confession, before we go any further: I know less than nothing about drumming, at least in a technical sense. I couldn’t tell you what a ‘flam’ was. I have never knowingly ‘paradiddled’.
Just as well, then, that we’ve launched an online poll to determine the most gifted sticksmen of all time – because without your input I’d be hard pushed to gauge in what sense John Bonham is a better musician than, say, Noseybonk out of Slipknot, or the bloke who banged the gong in those Rank Organisation ads.
Even a drumming dunce like me, though, can recognise that tubthumpers tend to fall into four broad categories, which I’ve outlined below.
1. The show-off
The hair metal era spawned many of these, the most notable being Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee, whose party trick was to fly over the heads of stadium audiences in a rotating drum kit. It’s worth watching this clip in full to get a sense of the subtle mindset at work: “Wouldn’t it be cool to go just a little bit… TO THE RIGHT! Owww! Fuck yeaargh!” etc.
Impressive stuff, although there’s a part of you that wonders how the crowd would’ve reacted had the future Mr Pamela Anderson slipped out of the harness and plummeted 50ft to his death.
2. The stand-up
Nothing communicates a sense of sunglasses-at-night indie froideur like the studied renunciation of a drum stool. The Velvet Underground’s Moe Tucker was the pioneer in this respect, but it was Bobby Gillespie who introduced a new level of lank-haired junkie attitude to the role:
More recently, Caroline McKay has revived the vertical drumming tradition. Wisely, she obeys the No.1 rule: if you’re going to stand up, it’s crucial that you play the beat from ‘Be My Baby’ at some point during the gig.
3. The maniac
One man typifies this category – Keith Moon. Yes, ‘Moon The Loon’, that lovable tearaway known for such cheeky rock’n’roll antics as running over and killing his bodyguard, paying to have a man’s fingers broken, and physically assaulting a string of girlfriends. As with John Bonham, there is a perilously fine line between hard-drinking party animal and pathetic drunken, violent twat.
4. The muso
And at this point my ‘expertise’ fails me, although I am told that Neil Peart from Rush is generally regarded as technically exceptional – although no man should really own that many cymbals and still be able to hold down a girlfriend:
Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy is capable of jaw-dropping solos, too, and you’re welcome to go watch one of them, although let’s be honest it won’t be as much fun as watching this dude:
Vote now to decide the greatest drummer of all time – and tell us who you think deserves to win by leaving a comment below.