A drummer.

That joke was told to me by a drummer. Danny Stephens, who is also the co-owner of my favourite music store, BJ’s Records and Nostalgia in downtown Barrie, Ontario.

Go back 15 years or so and I was working with a very talented drummer…Buddy Rich meets Keith Moon…named Sean Anderson. Here’s Sean and The Black Holes doing the Forth Worth Stomp.

We were both employed in the creative (commercial writing and production) department at CFOS in Owen Sound. Morning host Jamie Ross, aka Deb James, was moderating a pop culture roundtable and one of the topics was Ringo Starr’s birthday. Jamie posed the question, “What should we get Ringo for his birthday?” 

One of the participants…a guy who had left CFOS in the ’60s to become a well-known Toronto morning man…replied with, “drum lessons.”

If Sean had been able to jump through the radio speaker to strangle that fellow, I don’t doubt he would have done so. 

Sean was livid.
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I have yet to meet or read an interview with a drummer that didn’t revere Ringo. They are in awe of what the man born Richard Starkey added to the Beatles songs. George Harrison called Starr “the best backbeat in the business.”

So why are drummers denigrated as “guys who hang out with musicians?”

My mother is 88 and grew up in Manchester, England. She recalls dancing to the English versions of the Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman orchestras and said every evening featured a drum solo. We’re talking mid to late ’40s.

Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa became the stars of their respective bands and eventually fronted their own combos but most drummers, rock, jazz or R&B, were regarded as part of the rhythm section. Guitar riffs dominate the tunes of The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, despite the time-keeping talents of Charlie Watts, Joey Kramer and John Bonham.

Neil Peart is one of the few exceptions. And hey Jack Black and fellow Rush enthusiasts, his named is pronounced peert and not pert. Rush is likely the only band that inspires more air drummers than air guitarists.

So cheers to my favourite “guys who hang out with musicians..”

Ringo, Neil, Tommy Aldridge, Sam Woodyard, Earl Palmer, Mark Santers, Barry Connors, Clive  Burr, Nicko McBrain, Ian Paice, Dave Grohl, DJ Fontana, Joe Jones, Ginger Baker, Bonzo, Moon the loon, Nick Mason and so many more.

Those musicians should have been happy to hang out with you.