This month we check in with Simon Phillips, the U.K. jazz, fusion, and rock monster and former Toto drummer, who’s on the road in support of his latest solo project, Protocol 4. To find out which performances from the versatile master’s extensive catalog are most celebrated among the drumming community, we asked our readers and social media followers to name some of their favorites from Phillips’ output. Here are a few of the responses.


Derek Sherinian’s Black Utopia [2003]. This is a great album with many outstanding players, and Phillips’ drumming glues it all together. There’s lots of variety—from full-on prog-metal to quieter, groovier songs. It’s a lesson on what to play and when to play it.

Liam Archer

Phillips’ playing on Pete Townshend’s Deep End Live! [1986] is a monster performance of feel and groove. His interplay with the band is incredible, and his double bass riffs and grooves are so tasty. Stellar!

Joseph Lynch

“The Pump” for its groove and “Space Boogie” for its complexity and feel. Both are on Jeff Beck’s There and Back [1980]. Also, check out the entirety of Phillips’ first Protocol release [1988], on which he played every instrument. I have an iTunes playlist dedicated to him with over a hundred tracks that he appears on.

Bill Fleming

“Jake to the Bone” and the drum solo afterward from Toto’s Livefields [1999] are amazing. Looking back, he’s done wonderful things with Toto. It’s quite the task to replace Jeff Porcaro and get Toto fans to love you.

Erik Smits

Pete Townshend’s “Give Blood” from White City: A Novel [1985]. It has everything a rock song could have to make a drummer happy to play it—double bass, bell patterns, tom grooves, fills, dynamics…it’s all there!

Kyle Denney

Pete Townshend’s Empty Glass [1980], All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes [1982], and White City: A Novel, and Jeff Beck’s There and Back always top the list for me. I’ve been to many drum clinics, and Simon’s was one of the only ones in which I’ve taken away valuable tools and concepts to practice and use—not that I’ll ever be in his league!

Tony DeMagistris

The “V8” solo from Phillips’ own Protocol album. Modern Drummer included it on a sound supplement in the December 1990 issue. Phillips plays a fantastic solo over a keyboard line. I love the way he incorporated all the elements of his huge kit, and his trademark drum sound. For me, he always had the biggest and best drum tones, in the studio or live.

Scott Apthorpe

“V8” from Protocol. I heard that track the day before I bought my first drumset, and I wondered how I’d ever play something like that. It really inspired me.

Carlos Leiva


Want your voice heard? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and keep an eye out for next month’s question.




Loyal Praise

I’ve been a subscriber to Modern Drummer since the very first issue, and I want to say that for more than forty years, MD has been a welcome arrival in my mailbox. It has been and remains the classiest drum magazine. Sometimes the original is the best! I really appreciate the diversity of coverage that builds bridges among drummers of all generations and all styles—pros and hobbyists, and classic and contemporary players. There’s a dignity and elegance to the articles, interviews, and gear reviews that really underscores the beauty of percussion as an art form. Wonderful work, and thanks!

P.S., I love the Modern Drummer Podcast with Mike and Mike!

Richard Hirsh, Wynnewood, PA


Dropped Beats

In the Must-Have Gear piece with Brad Wilk in the April issue, we quoted Brad as saying that Paiste’s Signature line has been discontinued. It has not.

In the photo caption on top of page 57 in the March issue, Paul Butterfield is pictured fourth from the left, not Charlie Musselwhite.