If you are under 40 and unless you happen to be a Jazz buff, you’ve probably been to a gig and seen a drum solo.
This is especially true for those of us in our teens or early twenties. Since the rise of the X-Factor generation, bands have largely become anonymous journeymen, playing second fiddle to the superstar at the front. As the role of the band has become less important, the role of the musicians in the band as part of the show has also declined. For many a show is all about the dancers, the light show and the costumes. The guitarist may get the odd bit of spotlight for a solo whilst a quick change of outfit is done, but for many “pop” bands that is about it. Of all the musicians in the band, the drummer seems to have been the most neglected in the modern day world of music. It seems that the drummers role in the modern world of music is to be the butt of all jokes. As racial stereotypes have rightly been dropped, the drummer has picked up the role as the butt of all jokes. Many of these jokes seek to portray the drummer as somehow outside of the band and in some way an inferior musician.
For any of us who have ever played in a rock and roll band know that a good drummer makes a band. At one time the drummer was “the man”. Buddy Rich was legendary as a drummer and band leader. In the 1960’s drummers such as Keith Moon, Ginger Baker and John Bonham had their own cult fan clubs. When Keith Moon passed away, there was serious talk as to whether the Who would continue. Such drummers would have drum solo’s and the concept of them simply being a journeyman would seem completely alien. In the Beatles, Ringo Starr was never seen as part of the Lennon/McCartney backing band. He was a Beatle.
With the advent of drum boxes, sampling and programming, the role of the drummer in dance music virtually disappeared. For much of the music in clubs, there are no musicians as such, just programmers, samples and singers. For live shows a band stacked with competent session musicians are wheeled in and out. Wheras a flamboyant drummer was seen as integral member of the band, now many musicians are interchangeable.
It is only in the world of Rock and Roll that the concept of a band lives on. For a great rock and roll band to work you need a great rythm section and this means a great drummer.
One of the things we’ve noticed over the years at Mill Hill Music Complex is that music moves in cycles and after a long period of fairly bland pop music dominating the charts, we are at least seeing the first signs of a real music revival. Last year I went to the 100 club to see Teenage Irish R&B sensations the Strypes. We’ve noticed a new generation of bands starting to turn up and we had a brilliant young band in this week with a superb drummer. What was even better was that the band were clearly into the rock and roll band ethos. I snuck a crafty listen to the music they were playing and it was great to hear some proper rock and roll.
I’ve yet to hear a teenage Prog rock band or a ten minute drum solo from one of the new generation of bands, but it can only be a matter of time. It looks to me that Rock and Roll is on the up again. What we are seeing is dozens of young people learning drums and booking private practice.
After such a long period in the wilderness, lets hear it for Rock and Roll Drummers !!!!!