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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…