Welcome to British Drum Icons, the latest feature to be added to our ever expanding website. This new sub-section of the site is dedicated to the celebration of British drummers who have been admired by many and been an influence to some of the biggest names in the industry.
In our constant search for new drumming heroes we often tend to forget those who blazed a path for others to follow. People like Clem Cattini, Brian Bennett and Bob Henrit were among a phalanx of drummers who came out of the melting pot of skiffle, when British rock music was at its infancy. They are the “without whom brigade” who laid the trail for Ringo, Moonie and Bonzo to follow. If you think you haven’t heard these guys play, think again. Put together, their work is a fantastic and rich slice of music from the early days of rock ‘n’ roll and they are all still going strong today. They were and remain true innovators who have played with rock and pop’s royalty.
We will start of with six great drummers and will be adding more in time to make this a complete record of some of the greatest British drumming heroes. This first set of interviews were done by Mark Forster, who is regular contributor of feature interviews to mikedolbear.com, a news journalist of some 20 years and the inspiration behind the piece. So here they are, in no particular order.
Since his pairing with erstwhile Squeeze alumni, Jools Holland, he has gone on to play with rock”s royalty, from the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Barry White and a stellar list of other musical acts.
Clem has worked with rock and pop royalty, from Tom Jones to Roy Orbison, the Walker Brothers to Dusty Springfield, was also a Womble and was the man who turned down Led Zeppelin.
He is best known for his drumming duties with Big Country and the band, minus frontman Stuart Adamson, who committed suicide in 2002, are back on the road and recording a new album to mark their 25th anniversary.
Mattacks relocated to America in 2000 and remains busy as an in-demand session musician, as well as finding time to renew old friendships with his erstwhile bandmates in Fairport Convention. One of major plusses for Mattacks, and with it the demand for his services, is the ability to play pretty much any style of music, from jazz to rock, pop to blues, but stresses there is no secret to his success apart from hard work and understanding what the performer wants.
He moved towards drum programming with Godley and Crème and then quit drumming until a reunion with former 10cc colleague, Graham Gouldman. With Lol Crème, Godley was also a successful and sought after videographer.
Tony Meehan had the highest profile any young British drummer had ever had three or four years before Ringo and showed us how to play drums in black and white on TV most Saturday evenings. Cliff and the guys were frequently on the couple of pop music shows of the time as well as the big variety shows like Sunday Night at the London Palladium and the Billy Cotton Band Show.
He passed up the chance to play with John Mayall and also the role of second drummer with Genesis and for many years ran his own drum shop in London.
What’s the job of a drummer in a band?
Well it depends on the band and what it wants to do. At the basic level its to look cute and wave your arms about, and maybe “keep time” with the basic rock beat ( if the other guys can’t keep their own ..).
Still playing and retaining a refreshing enthusiasm about drumming and music, Lee and Ten Years After Now, are enjoying cult status and regularly tour Europe.