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Five of the World's Greatest Studio Drummers

By Edited Jul 28, 2016 1 2

There are a handful of drummers in the world who have managed to make themselves a household name. For instance, there are few music fans who haven't heard the names Travis Barker, Neil Peart, or Lars Ulrich. What many people may not realize, however, is that there is a whole world of studio drummers – drummers hired to play on a single song or album – some of whom have played on an impressive number of hit records, but who are almost unknown to society at large. Here is a list of five of the best.

Gregg Bissonette

Gregg is a Los Angeles based session drummer who grew up in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Bud, was an early influence and began giving Gregg drum lessons at the age of five. Gregg trained in a variety of musical styles, and eventually went on to further his education at the University of North Texas where he played in the award-winning One O'Clock Lab Band. His recording credits include: Santana's multi-platinum album Supernatural, Spinal Tap's Back from the Dead, David Lee Roth's Eat 'em and Smile and Skyscraper, as well as soundtrack work on King of the Hill, Friends, and The Bourne Identity.

Vinnie Colaiuta

Vinnie began playing the drums at the age of 14 when his parents bought him his first drum set. He would later study percussion at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. His first major gig was with Frank Zappa in 1978 when he attended, and then passed, an open audition. He would later go on to have one of the most lucrative careers of any studio drum set artist. His recording credits include: Frank Zappa's Joe's Garage, Sting's Ten Summoner's Tales, Josh Groban's Awake, and Tori Amos's Y Kant Tori Read.

Hal Blaine

Often hailed as “the most recorded drummer in history”, Hal was a member of The Wrecking Crew, an unofficial group of Los Angeles studio musicians that was particularly active during the 1960s. It is almost impossible to listen to a classic radio station for an hour without hearing at least one song that Hal has played on. Some of his extensive recording credits include: “I Got You, Babe” by Sonny and Cher, “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys, “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” by The 5th Dimension, “Thank God I'm a Country Boy” by John Denver, and “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkle.

Steve Gadd

One of the most successful studio drummers in the world, this Rochester, New York based drummer has gained a reputation as one of the most consistent drummers around. He has written some of the most interesting and unique drum beats in modern recording. His credits include: “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and “Late in the Evening” by Paul Simon, “The Legend of the One-Eyed Sailor” by Chuck Mangione, “Aja” by Steely Dan, and the James Taylor album New Moon Shine.

Josh Freese

Once called “Generation X's Steve Gadd” by Modern Drummer magazine, Los Angeles based drummer Josh Freese's drumming has appeared on so many records that his discography has a Wikipedia page.  Josh is best known for his work with A Perfect Circle and the Vandals, but he has amassed recording credits including: Meredith Brooks's Blurring the Edges, New Radicals' Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, Chris Cornell's Euphoria Morning, Kelly Clarkson's Thankful, and Daughtry's self-titled début album.



May 27, 2011 3:09am
wow, I like this article about the unsung heroes... you should have included a video or at least their photographs.
May 27, 2011 6:13pm
Thanks for the input! I've found some great videos, and the revised article will be up shortly. If you liked this article, you should research the studio scene in America, as there are many drummer that I would've liked to include...Bernard Purdie, John "J.R." Robinson, Rick Marotta, Jim Keltner, and Keith Carlock to name just a few. You know what? I think a follow up article may be in order...
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