Simultaneously beating the skins and carrying lead vocals is a rare skill. Next to the drums, we can’t think of a single other instrument that demands such continual, full-bodied control to play. For that, we salute the musos who nail the merry union of beats and pipes! Here are our top eight singing drummers (slash drumming singers – and which, pray tell, is which?).
Kram (AKA Mark Maher), has been screamin’ tunes and abusing the double kick since ’90s icons Spiderbait formed in 1991, and has since established himself as an indispensible part of the Australian music landscape and its commentary. Now stop reading and start shrieking along with the below.
She first came to prominence as a Prince protege, but decades on from hanging with his late Purple Majesty, Sheila E is an established international artist who co-headlined Australia’s Meredith Music Festival in 2016. Sheila still got it!
While vocal duties in The Eagles were shared, the late Glenn Frey and co-founder Don Henley took the lion’s share of the load. Henley sang Hotel California, and when he sang it live, he always did so from the behind the kit.
Levon Helm was the only American in the legendary Canadian roots/rock group of the ’60s and ’70s, The Band (who collaborated with Bob Dylan and made classics like Music from Big Pink). The late musician was a fantastic multi-instrumentalist, however he was best known for his drumming and lending vocals to some of The Band’s most legendary songs. Crazy fact: Helm lost his voice due to throat cancer in 1998, but after treatment, gradually encouraged his vocals’ return; his comeback album of 2007, Dirt Farmer, won him a Grammy.
While the late Karen Carpenter was forced to vacate the drumming stool on several Carpenters albums to satisfy the demands of inflexible, chauvinistic producers, her drumming was widely acclaimed by several masters of the instrument. As part of the brother/sister duo The Carpenters, her voice was heard on AM radio all through the ’70s: she was undoubtedly a master of both.
Say what you want about Phil Collins: YOU try playing the drum fills from In the Air Tonight while singing it in front of thousands of people!
Debbi Peterson drummed for The Bangles throughout their prestigious 1980s career, but did sing on two of the hit singles, Going Down to Liverpool, and Be With You. Get it, Debbi!