Happy summer, everyone! Putting together this special issue has been a lot of work, but just as much fun.
I was ten years old in 1967. Rolling Stone magazine debuted that year, and I’d just gotten my first “real” drumkit. I started playing when I was seven—like most drummers in my age bracket, after seeing Ringo and the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. What a year to start playing along to records, which is how we did it back in the day. I had my record player set up on a table right next to my drums so I could work the needle back and forth, over and over, to learn how to play the parts. I was also playing along to so many hit songs that were on the radio. At the time my friends and I didn’t know that session drummer Hal Blaine was twenty of our favorite drummers!
That same year Carmine Appice came along, and everything got a bit heavier. Again, like many other young players at the time, I was greatly influenced by Carmine—though it was a bit more personal for me than for many. You see, Carmine and I came from the same neighborhood, and the place I went for drum lessons was a few blocks from where his family lived. I’m ten years younger than Carmine, though, and when I became aware of him, he was already on his way to stardom. My teacher at the time was Al Humphrey, and in his waiting room he had this huge poster of Carmine that I would stare at. As I was leaving, Al would always say, “If you want to be a big star like Carmine, you better practice!”
There were many more drummers that I played along to and learned from in 1967—even if I didn’t know all their names at the time: John Densmore with the Doors, Mitch Mitchell with Jimi Hendrix, Dino Danelli with the Rascals, Ginger Baker with Cream, Al Jackson Jr. with Booker T. and the MG’s, all the great Motown drummers, Clyde Stubblefield on James Brown’s “Cold Sweat”…. I thought I was playing along with Micky Dolenz of the Monkees as well—even though studio pros like Hal Blaine, Fast Eddie Hoh, Billy Lewis, Gary Chester, and Earl Palmer played on most of their recordings. (Micky did get to record most of the group’s Headquarters album, though, the second of three albums the group released in ’67.) But the records that literally changed my life in 1967—as a drummer, songwriter, and recording artist—were the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. Listening to the music the Beatles made in 1967 was like hearing music for the first time. It’s a sentiment shared by pretty much all of the drummers we spoke to for our cover story this month. (After you finish with this issue, you might want to check out Brian Southall’s great new book, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Album, the Beatles, and the World in 1967, as well as the newly released fiftieth-anniversary reissue of the legendary album that changed the world all those years ago.)
We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we dug putting it together. Stay groovy, keep drumming, and remember, all you need is love, love, love!
Editor at Large