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Category: The Greats

Our featured drummer of the day.

Drum Instructor Sam Ulano

Drum Instructor Sam Ulano Passes

Sam Ulano, a beloved yet controversial player and instructor who Modern Drummer readers will recognize from the many ads he ran in the magazine over the years, passed away last week, at the age of ninety-three. MD published an interview with Ulano in the September 2011 issue, which we’ve reprinted here in honor of his long career….

Drummer Alex Van Halen: The Hard-Rock Archetype

Alex Van Halen: The Hard-Rock Archetype

After changing its name from Mammoth, Van Halen strutted a glam-punk attitude when it burst onto the national scene in 1978 with its self-titled debut album. Featuring the template-smashing talent of the whammy-bar-happy, two-hand-tapping guitarist Eddie Van Halen and his percussive-dynamo brother, Alex, Van Halen the band, to many, became the obvious successor to the hard-rock crown once worn by Led Zeppelin…(read more)

Drummer Mel Lewis

Mel Lewis: A Quiet Fire

For big band great Mel Lewis, the drums were his easy chair and the band his hearth. He was the fire.

Ramones' Drummer Marky Ramone thumbnail

Marky Ramone: Punk Legend

Marky Ramone held the drum chair with legendary punk pioneers the Ramones longer than anyone else. But there’s much more to his story…

Billy Higgins

Billy Higgins: The Shape of Jazz

Billy Higgins, who would come to play on more than five hundred albums, including three of the biggest jazz crossover hits of the 1960s (Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man,” Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder,” and Eddie Harris’s “Freedom Jazz Dance”), was born in 1936 and grew up in Los Angeles. He began playing drums at a very early age, influenced first and foremost by Kenny Clarke but also by non-drummers like pianist Art Tatum and saxophonist Charlie Parker.

Tony Allen (Photo by Bernard Benant)

Tony Allen: Afrobeat Innovator

Tony Allen, who along with vocalist/activist Fela Kuti created one of groove music’s most glorious subgenres, Afrobeat, deserves a place on the list of the greatest funk drummers of all time. For more than forty years he has been honing a distinctive style that crackles with vitality, pulsates with rhythmic wit, and pushes audiences into dance-party ecstasy.

John Guerin : Modern Drummer

John Guerin: All-Around Powerhouse

John Guerin was one of the most prolific and influential drummers of the L.A. studio scene, contributing to recordings by Frank Sinatra, the Byrds, Thelonious Monk, Lou Rawls, George Shearing, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and many others.

Jean-Paul Gaster

The Greats: Jean-Paul Gaster

Clutch has been somewhat of an under-the-radar band since its formation in 1990, but to those who are aware of the Maryland-based rockers, there are few who can match their eclectic sound and locked-in groove. Jean-Paul Gaster’s gritty playing and…

Small Face - First Step

Kenney Jones: British Drumming Royalty

Kenney Jones’ timless drumming approach can be heard on classic albums by the Small Faces, Rod Stewart, and the Who. In 2005 Modern Drummer spoke to the drummer about many of his greatest performances.

Chris Adler

Chris Adler: Lamb of God’s Uniquely Heavy Drum Star

Chris Adler, drummer for metal megastars Lamb of God, has a voice and approach all his own, yet he didn’t even begin to play drums seriously until he was already in his twenties. He did, however, grow up studying piano, saxophone, and acoustic guitar before finally settling on playing bass for several high school bands and other projects…

Airto Moreira

Airto Moreira: World Traveler of the Highest Order

The term “world music” wasn’t invented specifically for Airto Moreira, but it might as well have been. As a percussionist/drummer in his native Brazil in the mid-’60s, Airto was recognized as a leading cutting-edge figure, mixing jazz and Brazilian ethnic music in a profound setting with multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal…