This month’s cover artist, Tré Cool, certainly inspired plenty of drummers to pick up a pair of sticks. That got us thinking about what drew the rest of us to the kit, and when we asked our readers and social media followers that very question, it elicited a heap of responses. In the decades since Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich first lured some of our commentors to the drums, performances by players such as Ronnie Tutt, Ringo Starr, John Bonham, Joe Morello, Neil Peart, Dave Grohl, Travis Barker, and James “The Rev” Sullivan hooked plenty of the other budding musicians. Tré Cool himself chimed in, commenting that he took up the drums after hearing Ron Wilson’s classic performance on the Surfaris’ drum anthem “Wipe Out.” Here are some of the responses.
My earliest recollection of feeling the power of the beat was circa 1979 while listening to my mom’s Blondie record that had the song “Dreaming” on it [Eat to the Beat], with the great Clem Burke on drums. The driving 8th notes on the floor tom and his flurry of 16th-note fills were infectious—and I was only two years old at the time!
But the performance that made me know for certain that I wanted to be a drummer was Ronnie Tutt’s playing on “See See Rider” from Elvis Presley’s Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite TV special. He was perched behind that sweet blue sparkle, double bass Ludwig kit and driving that smoking TCB band.
It was a Karen Carpenter drum solo when I was in primary school. My dad was a big fan, and as soon as I saw her play a solo on the concert toms, all I wanted to do was play drums. She had massive talent, and it’s a shame that she’s no longer with us.
Andrew Woody Knight
I heard the Beatles’ “She Loves You” for the first time on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was the first time I heard drums as a musical instrument—not just the beat—because of Ringo’s opening riff and tight accents. I began drumming in 1964 at the age of ten. His creativity inspired me from that point forward.
When I was eleven, I saw the studio video for Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” Neil Peart’s drumming blew my world apart. I’d never seen anything so artistic and athletic. I devoted the better part of a decade to studying his performances. Even though my interests expanded to other players, his influence continues to this day, some thirty-five years later.
Sean A. Scapellato
I remember starting out around twelve years old. At that age, I was into straightforward rock. But when I heard Rush’s “The Spirit of Radio,” I was blown away—not just because of Neil Peart’s amazing musicianship on drums, but also because of the whole song. The message of the lyrics and how all the parts fit together and complemented everything perfectly made me realize that I didn’t want to just be a 4/4 rock drummer. That’s when I began to expand my abilities and, as Neil puts it, add tools to my toolbox.
“Wipe Out” by the Surfaris. I was just a kid when I first heard it, and I knew I had to play it one day. I got my first kit at age twelve and played “Wipe Out” that very day. I’ve always played by ear, but I really wish I had learned to read music. I missed an opportunity to play with the London Symphony Orchestra because of it—a lesson for anyone who reads this and who’s in the same boat.
Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire.” Jim Gordon’s solo cinched my decision to start taking drum lessons. And my teacher was [Modern Drummer founder] Ron Spagnardi!
“Wipe Out.” I heard this song on the radio when I was a kid, and it made me want to jump out of my skin and go crazy! That was the first time I realized the effect that rhythm can have on a human soul. I knew that I wanted to be able to feel like that again and make others feel like that. I picked up drumsticks at age twelve and have been doing it ever since.
“Where Eagles Dare” by Iron Maiden. Nicko McBrain’s incorporation of swing into heavy metal was so appealing to me. Plus, that intro fill obviously caught my ears. When I first started getting into heavy metal, I was taking drum lessons but wasn’t very keen on practicing. Once I started listening to Iron Maiden, I watched their live DVDs and saw McBrain in action. Then it clicked. I started grinding and dissecting every note Nicko played. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with playing the drums.
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