By Dave Goodman | Read time: approx. 4 mins
For many years, as a teenager growing up in the regional Australian city of Tamworth, I depended on my monthly purchase of Modern Drummer magazine to find out all I could about drums, drummers and drumming. The first edition I bought was June 1989 with Michael Shrieve on the cover. I soon went back to the store and bought the May edition with Dennis Chambers on the cover, and so it began. It was great to read new interviews each month, and to find out how some of the world's greatest players thought about music, and about drumming. I've since spent a small fortune buying second-hand back-issues, including right back to when Steve Gadd was on the cover of the second edition.
One of the best things about reading Modern Drummer in my youth was the inset for each major interview that listed recordings the featured drummer found most inspirational during their development. There was also an inset listing the albums that they felt represented their playing the best. With money saved from the paper run I used to do each day, I would go to the local record/tape/CD store and order as many of these as I could afford when not saving for a new cymbal. In those days, most of the albums listed were imports, and so I had to pay top dollar for them, wait for anywhere from six weeks to six months for them to arrive and hope that I would love the way they sounded when they arrived. It was difficult, if not impossible, to preview anything before buying - I had to commit "blind". Whilst I did in fact love many of the albums when they arrived, I didn't necessarily love all of them, but this was also important for my development as it helped me to really distill my own tastes into what they are today.
Something that's difficult to convey to anyone who grew up already immersed in today's world of instant, mostly free accessibility to these same resources and more is just how difficult it was to acquire high quality recordings in regional Australia in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I had to really search and enquire to finally find something good - like searching for a flower in the desert, whereas today it's as easy as searching for a flower in the flower garden.
YouTube today represents one of the greatest tools a student could ever wish for, and a reality that I only ever dreamed of when I was growing up. I would read reviews and updates of tours that took place between what I thought to be obscure combinations of musicians, and I would try to dream up the way they might've sounded together. When people of my generation and older discovered YouTube in early 2006, our lives changed because it turns out that many of these tours were recorded and broadcast or telecast in America, Europe and/or Japan whilst not having been officially released. Many avid fans recorded these broadcasts, and YouTube provided the perfect platform for these to be published to the world for free! So, now, not only could I hear the truth of the sound, but I could also see it with professionally shot footage as though I were actually there - my dreams came true in vivid sound and rich colour!
In talking about this, I don't condone infringements of intellectual property rights that occur when people illegally upload copies of officially released recordings, nor when they make and distribute recordings of artists without express permission from the artist. The nature of this is changing every day anyway, and, although I feel it is a long way off, hopefully, it will steer in a direction that will benefit the original content creators appropriately - perhaps even more appropriately than previously. But I digress...I excitedly started keeping playlists of my favourite clips categorised by drummers' names for myself on my own YouTube channel since I signed up in around 2008.
I've found that, despite the immediate and free access we're all able to enjoy by using today's incredibly advanced technology, many students are simply overwhelmed and overstimulated with information that may or may not be coming from a credible source as it seems that internet search engine optimisation trumps real world experience and credibility. In an effort to put impressionable young minds more directly in touch with the names and recordings of some of the truly great drummers of the present and the past, I've made these playlists available on my YouTube channel.
I believe strongly that when someone asks any young musician who their favourite players are on their instrument, they should be able to come up with a quick and coherent answer. The playlists, therefore, are categorised by drummer names, and some by style too, in the hope that you might be able to one day name your favourite drummers if you can't already, and to be inspired by those great human beings who came before us and gave us so much. The playlists are always being updated, and what's there already is by no means exhaustive, but it's a start.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel here to get updated automatically when I add to my playlists: