Bill Bruford | Nicko McBrain | Bob Henrit | Brian Bennett | Ric Lee | Kevin Godley | Mark Brzezicki | Gilson Lavis | Brian Downey | Bobby Elliot | Tony Meehan | Rob Townsend | Bobby Graham | Ian Paice | Interview with Geoff Dunn | Geoff Dugmore | Nigel Glockler | Dolphin Taylor | Ginger Baker | Paul Robinson | Keith Moon | Pete Best | Simon Kirke | Ginger Baker | Warren Cann | Eric Delaney | Dave Mattacks | Steve Ferrone | Gary Husband | Clive Bunker | Topper Headon | Rat Scabies | Steve White | Don Powell | Woody Woodmansey | Pete York | Henry Spinetti | Jon Hiseman | Nick Mason | Kenney Jones | Clem Cattini | John Coghlan |
British Drum Icons
Welcome to British Drum Icons, the latest feature to be added to our ever expanding website. This new sub-section of the site is dedicated to the celebration of British drummers who have been admired by many and been an influence to some of the biggest names in the industry.
In our constant search for new drumming heroes we often tend to forget those who blazed a path for others to follow. People like Clem Cattini, Brian Bennett and Bob Henrit were among a phalanx of drummers who came out of the melting pot of skiffle, when British rock music was at its infancy. They are the "without whom brigade" who laid the trail for Ringo, Moonie and Bonzo to follow. If you think you haven’t heard these guys play, think again. Put together, their work is a fantastic and rich slice of music from the early days of rock ‘n’ roll and they are all still going strong today. They were and remain true innovators who have played with rock and pop’s royalty.
We will start of with six great drummers and will be adding more in time to make this a complete record of some of the greatest British drumming heroes. This first set of interviews were done by Mark Forster, who is regular contributor of feature interviews to mikedolbear.com, a news journalist of some 20 years and the inspiration behind the piece. So here they are, in no particular order......
BOB HENRIT – cemented himself into music history with Argent and later took the drumming duties with The Kinks following Mick Avory’s departure. But even before he helped form Argent he was a veteran of the fast-moving British pop and rock scene, having left school to play drums for Adam Faith as one of the Roulettes, moving on to Unit 4+2 and other bands.
He passed up the chance to play with John Mayall and also the role of second drummer with Genesis and for many years ran his own drum shop in London. Read the full interview.
KEVIN Godley – was a true innovator with 10cc, enjoying tinkering with sounds in the studio as much as playing drums. As much a lead vocalist, composer and avante garde technological whizzkid, Godley’s self-confessed simplistic approach to drums and drumming belies his technique and feel.
He moved towards drum programming with Godley and Crème and then quit drumming until a reunion with former 10cc colleague, Graham Gouldman. With Lol Crème, Godley was also a successful and sought after videographer. Read full interview
MARK BRZEZICKI – has played with some of the leading bass players in British rock and pop history, from John Entwhistle to Pino Palladino, Mark King to Bruce Foxton and his unique and energetic drumming style has won him lots of session work.
He is best known for his drumming duties with Big Country and the band, minus frontman Stuart Adamson, who committed suicide in 2002, are back on the road and recording a new album to mark their 25th anniversary. Read full interview
RIC LEE – an exciting and explosive drummer, Lee found fame with Ten Years After and played at the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969. One of the inspirations for Spinal Tap, Lee helped show a certain John Henry Bonham how he was playing triplets after a gig at Middle Earth in Covent Garden.
Still playing and retaining a refreshing enthusiasm about drumming and music, Lee and Ten Years After Now, are enjoying cult status and regularly tour Europe. Read full interview
CLEM CATTINI – one of the drumming world’s elder statesman, best known for his session work and his remarkable time-keeping, Cattini has played on more UK number one hits than any other drummer. His impressive CV also includes membership of The Tornados, whose groundbreaking Telstar was the first British single to top the US charts.
Clem has worked with rock and pop royalty, from Tom Jones to Roy Orbison, the Walker Brothers to Dusty Springfield, was also a Womble and was the man who turned down Led Zeppelin. Read the full interview here.
BRIAN BENNETT – perhaps best known as The Shadows’ sticksman, Brian was a teenage prodigy who took his love for jazz and big band and helped shape it into the new world of rock ‘n’ roll. A true innovator, Bennett played for some of the top names in music before settling into The Shadows’ chair. Bennett is also a talented and award-winning composer, behind many TV and movie themes and incidental music.
Ever-smiling with a passion for music, Bennett has never stopped learning about drumming and music. At the height of The Shadows’ fame in the early 1960s, he was never without a drumming book on set or on tour. Read the full interview.
Gilson Lavis boasts an exquisite musical pedigree. He was Chuck Berry''s drummer of choice in the early 1970s and toured with artists as diverse as Edwin Starr, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. A modest guy, he’s managed to stay at the top of his game for the past 30 years, despite a near fatal addiction to alcohol. He is the epitome of the drummer''s drummer - happy to keep it in the pocket making someone else the star.
Since his pairing with erstwhile Squeeze alumni, Jools Holland, he has gone on to play with rock''s royalty, from the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Barry White and a stellar list of other musical acts. Read the full Interview
Prolific sessioneer Dave Mattacks first came to prominence when he joined folk rockers Fairport Convention in the late 1960s. Since then he''s been a regular with Sir Paul McCartney, Elton John and a host of other top acts in the world of popular music.
Mattacks relocated to America in 2000 and remains busy as an in-demand session musician, as well as finding time to renew old friendships with his erstwhile bandmates in Fairport Convention. One of major plusses for Mattacks, and with it the demand for his services, is the ability to play pretty much any style of music, from jazz to rock, pop to blues, but stresses there is no secret to his success apart from hard work and understanding what the performer wants. Read the full interview.
Bobby Elliott was one of the true drumming innovators to come out of the Britpop revolution in the 1960s. His jazz-influenced style set new standards for others to follow. The popular Hollies'' drummer is still going strong today, still a member of the group that outscored even The Beatles for the amount of hits they had during the 1960s, still recording and touring and still setting those high standards. Read the full interview.
Tony Meehan set the ball rolling as far as British Rock ‘n’ Roll drummers were concerned. It wasn’t so much that he was the first, although arguably he was, he simply was the one with the highest profile. He was on television with the guys everyone wanted to see: Cliff Richard and the Drifters.
Tony Meehan had the highest profile any young British drummer had ever had three or four years before Ringo and showed us how to play drums in black and white on TV most Saturday evenings. Cliff and the guys were frequently on the couple of pop music shows of the time as well as the big variety shows like Sunday Night at the London Palladium and the Billy Cotton Band Show. Read the full interview here
Bobby Graham provided the drumbeat behind two of the most famous rock riffs of all time. He was there at the dawn of Britpop, playing drums on The Kinks'''' breakthrough singles, ‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘All Day And All Of The Night’. And it speaks volumes that Ray Davies, lyrical and musical powerhouse of The Kinks, called on Graham 40 years later for a "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" session, which included a reworking of ‘You Really Got Me’. Magical moments in musical history. Read the full story here.
Keith Moon would have been 57, and fast approaching his first bus pass, on August 23rd 2008. I first met him sometime in the summer of 1965. He was coming out of an independent studio in London called IBC as I was going in. We said hello and that was it... Read the full story here.
Ginger Baker was honoured with the ‘Zildjian Drummers Achievement Award’ at a special gig at Shepherds Bush Empire on December the 7th 2008 and I went along to talk to him at a press launch a few weeks before the event. I figured all the other magazines would be asking him about Cream, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce so wanted to come up with a different angle. Read the full story here
Warren Cann is the drummer behind one of the most recognisable beats in music history. He’s also one of the pioneers of electronic drums, a visionary who saw the potential behind the odd-looking boxes of tricks and explored further, always pushing the boundaries. Yet Warren Cann appears to have been overlooked for his contribution to music. With some B-sides, he was coming up with what would become the norm in techno, drum ‘n’ bass (or in this case drum ‘n’ synth) and rave music years later. To read more click here
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