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13th June 2023 - 6 MORE overlooked and underrated drummers

I wrote a blog a while ago about underrated/overlooked drummers that had been important to me in my development as a player - folk like Vinny Appice of Dio and Mickey Curry with Bryan Adams being 2 particular examples I cited at the time

I thought I’d list some more - same principle applies…PLEASE NOTE!! I’ve seen all these drummers in concert and that’s my ONE main criteria, which means plenty of deserving players don’t get a mention.

Larry Mullen Jr (Key tracks: Beautiful Day, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me)

It was 20 years ago now that all BRMB presenters were told to attend the U2 Elevation tour at the NEC - not only that, but we were asked to pay for the tickets, which was unusual to say the least, as gig freebies were usually proffered to the ‘talent’ and I’d seen artists like Manics, The Corrs, Shania Twain and Travis thanks to previous promoter giveaways.

So we all grizzled a bit at having to fork out for Bono & co. But they absolutely floored me with how good they were that night on a tour that wasn’t as lavish a production as Popmart or Zoo TV, but instead was more about performance and songs - U2 have got a fair few of those, driven along expertly by Larry’s lovely, uncomplicated playing. His military drumming is a big feature of the parts he brings to songs and makes him easy to spot

That said, years later I was really enjoying Alice Cooper’s Paranormal album and discovered using reading the liner notes that Larry was on drums throughout! Again, his straightforward but clinical playing impressed me hugely.

And that pattern he plays in the Beautiful Day chorus is like a modern day Phil Rudd. Which is as big a compliment as I can think of. Speaking of which…

Phil Rudd (Key tracks: Gone Shootin’ Go Down)

I really should have included Phil on the first list I did of these. Finally got to see him on the 1996 Ballbreaker tour with AC/DC and it was another education in how to play for the song with no frills (and no fills to be fair!)

You just have to tap your feet to his playing. It’s immense timing. And when he has to play fast on songs like Let There Be Rock with its extended guitar solo section, his hi-hat speed and control is fabulous. Try as Simon Wright & Chris Slade might, they’ve never quite been able to match his ‘clock’ when replacing him.

Rick Allen (Key tracks: Dangerous, Run Riot)

We all know the tragic circumstances of the car accident on New Years Eve 1984 in which the Def Leppard drummer lost his left arm - and very nearly his life. The whole idea of using foot pedals and electronics to relearn how to play drums is one thing in itself…to actually become a better player (in my opinion) as a result is quite another. When you go to see Leppard now, you can’t help but watch Rick play and skilfully negotiate his way around his specially constructed kit, marvelling at every turn.

Last time I saw him was the Hysteria Anniversary Tour in Cardiff and he was bob on all night - advancements in electronic kits and set ups mean Rick’s kit is even more ergonomically designed nowadays to suit his playing. Love watching him play. Bloody hero.

Paul Geary (Key tracks: Cupid’s Dead, Get The Funk Out)

The shame here is that Paul has long since abandoned the drum stool for a career in music management, including managing Extreme, the band that made him famous! Another stylishly uncomplicated player, Paul’s drum sound was unmistakeable - gated but booming toms, snappy snare and a real gut-punch of a bass drum. He also had a fairly rudimentary 4-piece kit set up with few whistles and bells that I saw when Extreme supported Bryan Adams at Cardiff Arms Park in the early 90’s.

Try playing that pattern in Get The Funk Out with the 16th’s and the grace notes on the bass drum - it’s as deceptively difficult as any rock 4/4 drum pattern you’ll encounter. Easy to say, but Extreme simply did not sound the same when he left.

Dan Pred (Key tracks: Cruise Together, Make It Easy)

It was Nottingham Rock City in the early 90’s when I had someone else’s ticket to see Dan Reed Network touring on the back of their 2nd album Slam. I knew very little about the band, but I was astonished at how tight the Network were, how terrific the songs were and how Dan Fred’s groove got everyone (seemingly) dancing inside Rock City.

Slam is something of a forgotten funk/rock gem from that era and I play it regularly. Dan’s playing really caught my ear. Slightly behind the beat a la Mickey Curry, and when he plays a fill, it’s a beauty. When you’re in a band like DRN with keyboards, sequencers and a slap bass player, keeping it simple isn’t easy, but that’s exactly what he did.

It was a treat to see him up close at Steelhouse Festival a few years back and his timing and groove was as impeccable as I’d witnessed all those years ago at Rock City.

Tim ‘Herb’ Alexander (Key Tracks: Tommy The Cat, Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver)

One of the nights where I can claim I saw a huge band in a small club as they began their rise to stardom was Primus in Birmingham at Edwards No.8 around 1990. We’d seen their video for John the Fisherman on MTV and I fell in love with the groove they had. Tim was - and still is - a truly gifted fusion/rock player, combining mad time signatures with sudden lurches in tempo, licks that Dennis Chambers would be proud of plus an amazing ability to lock in with the madcap Les Claypool’s eclectic bass playing.

It was an absolutely amazing night seeing them play at Edwards - some years later I saw them supporting Rush at NEC on the Roll the Bones tour…two awesome trios in one night, and Rush fans definitely embraced the weirdness of Primus that evening in an arena setting.

Herb has had his spells away from Primus, but has returned a couple of times and the fact that he was able to seamlessly take on Neil Peart’s parts when Primus played Rush’s ‘A Farewell To Kings’ live in the States last year speaks volumes for his talent.


Feel free to comment below about the drummers YOU saw live who never quite got the notoriety nor the love they deserved for their ability ! Hope you enjoyed the read :)

Dants x


Of all of the drummers you've

Of all of the drummers you've mentioned - my favourite without doubt is Dan Pred of the Dan Reed Network - you hit the nail on the head with your words.
I stand by the belief that drummers can make a good band great as evidenced when Little Angels not only were lucky enough to have Michael Lee keep the beat as they hit the mainstream but to catch lightning twice with Mark Richardson was more than just a fluke!
And I also totally agree with you on 'Herb' as well

There are many but the late

There are many but the late Kevin Wilkinson of China Crisis springs immediately to my mind. Some of his playing on Flaunt the Imperfection was exceptional

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