Drumming Influences

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Who Are My Drumming Influences

QUESTION: How important are the drumming influences to a drummer as they learn and grow as a drummer? What role do drumming influences play in forming a player’s musical DNA?

ANSWER: Drumming influences are incredibly important. Music of all genres has played a huge part in my life.  I recall Baby Sittin’ Boogie, Chain Gang, and Travelling Man as stand out songs from my early childhood.

But as I grew, I would sit in front of my parent’s monoaural, “hi-fi” and pore through their collection of albums from the 40’s, 50’s, and early 60’s.

There were soundtrack albums from Broadway shows and movies such as “The Sound of Music”, “Peter Pan”, “Tom Thumb”, “Gigi”, “My Fair Lady”, and “South Pacific”. 

There were albums of crooners such as Jack Jones, Matt Monroe, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jerry Vale, and Robert Goulet.  My dad loved opera, so there were a lot of opera albums playing on weekends such as Puccini’s “La Boheme”, which is now one of my favorite operas.

But there was one album in particular that stood out to me. It’s an album called “Wired for Sound” by Marty Gold, which would now fit under the genre of space age lounge music.  It was released in 1956 on the Vik label and is available on iTunes.

Wired for Sound
Wired for Sound

This album was produced for audiophiles back in the day and was considered an orthophonic recording, which means the recording reproduced sounds authentically. This album was also the beginning of a sound that would evolve into the Moog and electronic music, many years later.

I remember listening to a track called “Ti-Pi-Tin” when I was very young, like 5 years old or younger.

The musicians and bands that have helped shape my playing style are too numerous to list but those most important to me are listed below.

Ginger Baker – The late Ginger Baker was the first drummer who I most modeled my playing as a young drummer. I had spent a few years taking lessons, and forming one of my first bands, when Cream made their debut.  All of the bands during that era played “Sunshine of Your Love” and we were no different.  But it was when Ginger joined Blind Faith that was the defining moment shaping my playing style.

Billy Cobham – But it was Billy Cobham’s playing that made the most impact on how my style would change and evolve. Jazz/Fusion became my life from that point forward.

Steve Gadd – clearly another major influencer who had an impact on my style in the mid 70’s when I first became aware of him.

Mike Craney – The late Mike Craney made his mark on the LA and world scene from the mid 1970’s through the late 1980’s and beyond. I discovered his self-made style on Jean Luc Ponty’s Imaginary Voyage album released in 1976. His polyrhythmic approach to jazz rock helped define that genre.

Lenny White –  As Jazz/Fusion permeated my listening and playing habits, I could not overlook Lenny White’s sharp and crisp playing. It was when Lenny was in Chick Corea’s  Return to Forever band and particularly the album “Where Have I Known You Before” that was another defining moment for me.

Ricky Dawson – The late Rick Dawson and the Yellowjackets certainly was a great combination and provided me with an avenue to explore unusual and complex time signatures.

Paul Wertico – I have always admired Paul’s skills and chops, especially when he was recording and touring with Pat Metheny. His influence on me continues to this day.

Antonio Sanchez – I first saw Antonio Sanchez live on tour with Pat Metheny in the early 2000’s. Talk about precision! His use of the clave embedded in the drum kit blew me away.

Bernard Purdie – “The Purdie Shuffle”, need I say more?

All the drummers of Weather Report including Alex Acuna, Alphonse Mouzon, Peter Erskine, Omar Hakim

Tito Puente – Latin music has also influenced my playing style and certainly Tito Puente is the epitome of latin percussion players and band leaders.

LTJ Bukem – I was exposed to LTJ Bukem in the early 2000’s as I started to compose electronic trip hop, ambient, and trance music. I don’t know how he does what he does but it’s pure magic. Download “Journey Inwards”, his “Earth” series, and “Logical Progression” albums are great collections to own.

Chester Thompson – specifically when he was with Frank Zappa on the Inca Roads album. Listen to the title track, “Inca Roads” and you’ll understand. “Florentine Pogen” is also another great track.

Mitch Mitchell  …and all things Jimi Hendrix.

Buddy Rich – Not only has Buddy Rich influenced me, but his Modern Interpretation of Snare Drum Rudiments book is one of the bibles and a regular part of my lesson plan.

Barriemore Barlow – what would this list be without a classic, progressive rock drummer like Barriemore Barlow from Jethro Tull.  John Bonham was quoted as saying, “he was the greatest rock drummer England ever produced”.

Josh Freese and Ilan Rubin –  I started listening to Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails around 2000 and he had a major influence on how I wrote and composed electronic trip hop, ambient, and trance music. Some of my EDM tracks can be found here: SoundCloud.com/DigitalTopics

…and Dave Weckl – By far the best drummer, musically and technically, on the planet today and the most important player of our time.

Please feel free to contact me!

Endorsed by HingeStix
Endorsed by HingeStix