This Sunday, October 10th, is the annual Hug A Drummer Day, the Easter equivalent of musician-related holidays.
It’s the day to make sure the drummer in your life knows that they’re appreciated. They’re hardworking, they’re talented, and even though you might rag on them occasionally, they’re an important part of your band.
To mark Hug A Drummer Day, let’s acknowledge together 5 of the most underrated drummers in music history.
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Please sir, put that pitchfork down. Ringo has become a subject of derision, the least-liked Beatle, the least-talented Beatle. While both of these are probably true, you can’t be the drummer for one of the best bands of all time and not be proficient in your role.
Ringo wasn’t a flashy performer, never craving the limelight, but this complemented the egos of McCartney and Lennon ahead of him. He kept it simple, he kept it effective, and his drumming was incredibly complementary to a Beatles song structure.
The world lost a true great this year with the death of The Rolling Stones drummer. Watts was the band’s quiet man, always overshadowed by the exuberance of Mick Jagger and the skills of Keith Richards. But, like Ringo, his solid foundation was key to the success of the Stones.
And he also offered more innovation than someone like Ringo: his ability to play in a manner of styles, loud and fast, quiet and slow, deserve more credit. If he had been in a more democratic outfit, his tenacity and talent might have been more obvious.
Not nearly as appreciated as Grohl, Kinney was just as strong a grunge drummer in the 90’s as his more famous counterpart. The stick man for Alice in Chains undoubtedly saw his work overshadowed by the huge presence of the grunge genre, which favoured guitar work and intense lyricism.
Kinney’s rhythmic understanding was strong though, and the fact that he’s been an ever-present in the Alice in Chains lineup since its inception, despite several tough injuries, speaks volumes about his ability.
Not much needs to be said about session drummer Freese other than provide a list of the bands that he’s worked with: Guns N’ Roses (1997-2000); Nine Inch Nails (2005-2008); A Perfect Circle (1999-2012). He’s also been the drummer for art rock icons Devo since 1996 and has reportedly played on over 400 records.
That’s, to put it mildly, quite the legacy. And once you add in bands like Weezer and Paramore to the mix, Freese’s supreme versatility becomes obvious. It takes talent to play drums well in one genre, one band, but to do it over so many involves another level of skill altogether.
It’s easy to be the drummer in a punk band, they say. Just play loud and frenetic, they laugh. Yet for three decades now, Cool has been a vital part of the Green Day machine. He must be exhausted by this point.
Probably the best way to understand the difficulty of his role is to try and play several Green Day songs back-to-back on a drum set; it’s a task that demands concentration and speed in equal measure. Cool possesses a wild touch when needed, able to provide ferocious fills at the slightest provocation. And his stage persona has been more than a match for Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt over the years.