Saturday, March 24, 2007

Drumming For A Lifetime, pt.8

If you missed "Influences, pt.1", click here.

Influences, pt.2

Here are more drummers that either pushed me in a certain direction, influenced me with their attitude, or just inspired me with their ability. This post isn't so much in chronological order as Influences pt.1, but I'm filling in some gaps and laying on some of my biggest influnces yet.

More Artists:

John Bonham was solid. He played like a Mack truck and never waivered. I'm pretty sure they never mic'd his drums, he just hit them so hard, the sounds would leap onto the recordings.

His style was an amazing combination of groove simplicity, pattern complexity, and the ability to make all the men that heard him, seem like little girls. Listening to songs like "Kashmir" and "When the Levee Breaks", you can hear his determination to drive the groove into the ground - um, in a good way. On "Rock and Roll" and "The Immigrant Song", you hear the raw energy boiling over. This man rocked, and he left us way too early.

Steve Gadd is a drummer that you have heard over and over, and may not even known it. His recording career has been extensive and his ability to bring something new to the table has been remarkable.

For instance, his groove on Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" is one of pop music's most unique rhythms. And I don't know whose idea it was to use two pair of sticks to get the sound he got on "Late in the Evening", but that's genius. I saw him on PBS the other night playing for James Taylor, and in his sixty's, he's still controls the time like nobody can.

Vinnie Colaiuta:

He is the master. He can play anything he wants to play, with his eyes closed and both arms tied behind his back.

My wife even knows his name.

I learned many years ago that there is never such thing as "the best drummer in the world". There are too many styles and methods in this world to make that statement have ANY validity whatsoever. But... if I HAD to choose one guy out there who has demonstrated playing in multitudes of styles with excellence with the greatest of ease, it would be Vinnie. So I guess I could say, "the best in MY world"...

Some of my favorite recordings he's done include: Joni Mitchell's "Wild Things Run Fast" album, Kenny Pore's "Inner City Dreams", and Sting's "Ten Summoner's Tales".

I met him a couple of times through Zildian Day in Dallas, and at a clinic he gave at NT. He is as humble as he is talented. Several years ago, I was happy to hear that he became a follower of Jesus. Not a pre-requisite for me to listen obviously, but it's nice to realize one of your heroes thinks like you do in the area of faith. (Vinnie's site)

Back in high school I started listening to fusion a lot. Billy Cobham (L) was one of the fusion drumming "gods", and he played like he had four arms. Lenny White (below) was the first drummer I ever saw in clinic. His days with Return To Forever were astounding.

Dan Wojciechowski was a good college friend of mine. I can vividly remember the first day of classes at North Texas, freshman year. Dan was the most positive person I had ever met up to that point, to the point that I thought he was kidding. But it wasn't an act, and his positive outlook transformed the percussion department while he was there.

His playing was scary. He came in at 18, playing like a seasoned veteran. By third year, he had the One O'Clock Lab Band chair and kept it until he graduated. Dan's playing left an impression on me, but more-so, his attitude. Because of him, even now when asked, "How's it going?" I usually respond "great" instead of "okay". Since school, he has played behind many big acts, including Lee Ann Rimes and Olivia Newton-John. Last time I saw him was at my wedding. Hopefully our paths will cross again soon.

Matt Chamberlain was another school chum for a while, until he got his break with Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, then he went on to play for the Saturday Night Live house band for a season.

I saw him after he quit the gig at SNL and asked him why. He said, "You're playing blues for 5 minutes at a time. I couldn't take it anymore." Wanting more has paid off for him, 'cause he's had an incredible drumming career, playing for everyone under the sun (see his site), and will be doing a world tour this summer with Tori Amos.

I remember hanging out in his practice room one day at school. He found out that I had not heard Bill Connors "Step It" album. He shoved it into my arms and said, "go and make a copy of this right now." Good guy.

Dale Baker is someone I call one of my "lifetime friends". That's the kind of friendship that can go a year without any talking, and when you do again, you can pick it up right about where you were before, missing no beats.

We became close friends at North Texas during our last few years there. He came in as a percussionist. For a while, we played in a Christian cover band together called Xchange, me on kit, him on perc. We even played a duet in Friday Recital we wrote, called "Sabayonne Sauce", spent countless hours in drumline, etc, and so-forth. (oh, and he was in my wedding)

Soon after, he turned his focus to drum set, and his versatility as a great hand percussionist gave him a nice unique approach. His resume is impressive to say the least, and his break came when a Texas-based band he played in called "Sixpence None the Richer" hit it big. That gig put him in line to record and tour with some other big names. (see his site for more)

Other players that have inspired me include (in no particular order): Steve Jordan, Sandy Nelson, Tony Williams, Peter Erskine, Bill Bruford, Carlos Vega, Dave Weckl, Terry Bozzio, Larry Mullen Jr, Alan Dawson, Dave Grohl, and Abe Laboriel Jr. You can read about these and many more at That's where I got many of my pics for these "Influences" posts, btw.

Looks like I will have to come back for a part 3 to discuss the teachers I've been influenced by. 'Til then...


Anonymous said...

No drummer has influenced me so much as that Mark Keefer. All around great guy, tons of fun and the best friend I ever had! And, not to sound completely superficial, what a great set of gams!

C. ;^)

Mark Keefer said...

Okay Sweetie, you gave yourself away...



BASSicallyN8 said...

For what it's worth, I've heard that Bonham only used two overhead mics for the Zep studio recordings. Absolutely amazing...and a bit of coincidence that John Paul Jones has been my greatest influence as a bass player...