Great musicians who should have been famous except....

I'm throwing this out there as an example. My 16 yr old aspiring drummer son asked me if I had anything in the vinyl collection tonight... apparently the U Tube video tutorials finally got boring. He is really good and practices non stop but it was refreshing when he asked about ideas for sound. In a moment of 30 years past clarity I put on the B side of Van Halen 1984… Is Alex Van Halen the most under rated rock drummer of all time? And is there a better lead in to ANY rock vinyl side than that???
Are you suggesting Alex Van Halen isn't famous?  He's certainly extremely wealthy...particularly compared to say Ginger Baker. 
All I'm saying is if you ask anyone about Van Halen what % would remember Alex was the brother? Millions of other examples hence the post. I had to look at the album sleeve to confirm. I never appreciated the technical ability in my day. My son is trying to play the opening at 50% tempo and is still getting killed. 
Agreed, way too many great examples of influential drummers (really all musicians) who most people have never heard of.  Tony Williams for example.  Talent and success far too often share zero connection.
Awesome. Stuart Copeland and Neil Peart were always the big rock drummers in "the day" for me? So much I missed clearly.
Van Halen 1984?
"And is there a better lead in to ANY rock vinyl than that?"

WHAT?!!  As a 16 year old in1978, I saw VH do one of their first  SoCal arena gigs to promote their debut album. I thought they were possibly one of the bands to carry the R&R  torch that the usual suspects held thru the 60-70s. 

EVH was from another planet, and David Lee was charismatic. When they released the second album.... I was disappointed. Back to my Stones, Zep and Who.

Sorry, reading your post just struck a R&R memory nerve. The 80's were the empty freeway lane to R&R death.

Sorry for the loss. Not saying VH is my go to (haven’t listened to them in years) but was just jolted by the lead in to B 1984.
You didn't give an alternative to the question however. Name a better rock lead in to an album (in this case a B side). Granted I am a drum guy now because of my son but from a pure technical as well as power opening its hard to beat. Love input however.
While I appreciate the technical chops of Alex VH, in the world of rock he just doesn't come anywhere close to the musicality that a Keith Moon brings to the composition.  Spin a track like "Bargain" by The Who and just get immersed in Moon's brilliance.  Just one guy's opinion ;-)

No, Alex Van Halen is NOT the most under-rated Rock drummer of all-time. That would be Earl Palmer. EVERYBODY knows AVH’s name, what band he’s in, what instrument he plays, and how "good" he is. In contrast, how many know John Bonham stole the intro in Zeppelin’s "Rock And Roll" from Palmers intro in Little Richard’s "Keep A Knockin’ (But You Can’t Come In)"?

How about D.J. Fontana? (who? ;-). Hal Blaine (Los Angeles studios, heard on about half the hits in the 1960’s including those of The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkle, The Mama & Papas, The Beach Boys, all the Phil Spector productions, and on and on), Bobby Graham (English studio drummer, heard on the early Kinks hits, and lots more). David Mattacks (Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson, dozens of others). Kenny Buttrey (Bob Dylan, Neil Young). Richie Hayward (Little Feat). Ronnie Tutt (Elvis Presley). David Kemper (Dylan, T Bone Burnett). Jim Gordon (Dave Mason, George Harrison, Derek & The Dominoes, Traffic). Do I really have to mention Jim Keltner (Ry Cooder---who schedules his recordings around Jim’s availability, Bill Frisell, Dylan, The Traveling Wilburys)?

If you want to do your son a huge favor, introduce him to the recordings of "working" drummers. If his goal is to get in a Rock Band, get a record deal, sell a ton of albums, make a fortune and buy a mansion and a Ferrari, and have a stripper/model girlfriend, well, good luck to him. If that plan does not come to fruition (as it very, Very, VERY rarely does), what’s he got? A giant drumset sitting in his bedroom (or your basement).

If he plays like Alex, or Bonham, or Peart, he is not gonna get the gig with the best songwriter in your town. Songwriters are looking for musical accompaniment, not show-boating (look how good I am!). If he moves to L.A. to "make it", he’s not going to be hired for recordings. Their style of playing is very limited---Rock. Have any of them were ever hired by a major artist for a recording date? Know why?

The number one complaint about drummers from other musicians, and songwriters and singers, is 1- their lack of musicality. Lots of drummers approach drumming as if it’s an athletic event, not an artistic expression; 2- they "over-play", Too busy, too loud, they don’t listen to the other players, the singer, or the arrangement.

If I had a son who wanted to become a real good Rock ’n’ Roll drummer, I’d buy him the first two The Band albums and have him learn all the drum parts (about half of which are played by pianist Richard Manuel, himself a musically great drummer). As he’s doing that, have him analyze not just the "how", but the "why". The wisdom learned by doing so will serve him well his entire life.

An old joke:

Q: What do you call an unemployed drummer?

A: A drummer.


Van Halen was pretty famous and I think most people that were the least bit familiar with them knew there was more than one person with a last name of Van Halen in the band.

If you want to check out an under-appreciated drummer, try Billy Cobham.  Start with his album Spectrum.  
Hey, like the dialogue. I appreciate the input. I don't think anyone can make an argument that Keith Moon and John Bonham are under appreciated. I also call out the idea that if Peart walked into an audition in my town (Savannah) for an audition that he wouldn't be signed. That's a stretch bro to suggest a highly personal opinion like "musicality" vs pure ability wins every time. Like saying hey, I like my old Cadillac because its plush and smooth but it will out run that Ferrari you mentioned just because.

I do believe that over 90% of non "music geeks" would even know that Alex Van Halen was a person. Eddie sure. Look at tablejockys repy. He proved my point. Gave out all the reasons VH was popular in the day but didn't mention Alex. Obviously the last name is famous but he is buried by eruption.

I totally agree that Jazz drummers are under appreciated for the most part. Hard to argue Buddy Rich isn't a household name but he is the exception. 

Still looking for a suggestion for a better vinyl side lead in from a rock genera perspective.

Thanks to all your replies.

That lead in sounds like someone fired up a Harley. Made my Sonus Fabers which normally play nothing but Miles, Thelonious, Getz/Gilbero pushed by a MAC6700 remind me of high school.
How about B.J.Wilson from Procol Harem? Check out "Power Failure" from the "Broken Barricades" album.


B.J. Wilson seconded from me, also as an example of kick-ass drumming to start out a classic rock LP - mainly "A Salty Dog"

Ditto to Mickey Waller as well, particularly on "Every Picture Tells a Story" for Rod Stewart.

Best of all, IMHO, is Steve Gadd's drumming on Steely Dan's Aja, mind blowing, absolutely mind blowing.
John McGeoch, a brilliant guitarist who played with several bands of the post-punk era, including Siouxsie and the Banshees, Visage, Magazine, and Public Image Ltd.

From Wikipedia...
He has been described as one of the most influential guitarists of his generation, and was referred to in the music press as "the New Wave Jimmy Page"
   Signature characteristics of his playing style included inventive arpeggios, string harmonics, the uses of flanger and an occasional disregard for conventional scales.

Radiohead's Ed O'Brien cited him as a "big influence" as well as U2's The Edge, Johnny Marr, and Dave Navarro.


Clapton could have gotten any drummer he wanted, and he chose Steve Gadd. Know why? Gadd not only has chops, he’s musical. He plays what the song calls for, no show-boating. What some don’t understand, apparently never will, is that musicality IS "pure ability". It’s what separates the men from the boys. Once again my analogy to sports is proven apropos. So many think playing drums is like running the quarter mile, when it is actually like interpretive dance. Are guitarist’s talents assed in terms of technique alone? If they were, John Hiatt would not have chosen Ry Cooder to be in his all-star band (along with drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Nick Lowe). Still, when Gadd plays a a solo, it’s a really good one, far better (even technically) than what Bonham, Moon, Baker, Peart, or AVH were/are capable of. But it is also a musical composition.

John Bonham’s famous kick drum triples (ask your son what that means) are played purely to show he can play them---they are musically unrelated to what any other musician is playing. Now listen to Levon Helm’s kick drum triples in "We Can Talk About It Now" on Music From Big Pink. See the difference? Some people do, some don’t. Clapton does.

Vinnie Colaiuta underappreciated? Not by drummers---he’s topped just about every pole in the world! He also works for Jeff Beck, a pretty high-profile gig. If the question is asked in relation to what the average person knows, ALL musicians are underappreciated. All they know is what they see on the TV.

It's true jazz drummers are unknown except to those that travel in that circle. I would consider Billy Cobham famous and recognized for his music and skill. He sells out shows whenever he plays, but isn't known to the general public. 
Drummers like Steve Gadd or Peter Erskine are at the top of their field, yet are unsung heros.

In the drummer vein, Lenny White was, in my view, outstanding when a part of Chick Corea’s band, Return to Forever. What a rhythm section, with White coupled with Stanley Clark!
I just wish guys like Philly Joe Jones had actually gotten paid during their careers.  
Elvin Jones, folks. Check out the lead-in to the third movement (Persuance) of Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”, then look at pix from the studio date and the modest size of Jones’ kit... stunning.

Jack DeJohnette, too. Check out how he uses the tuning of his drums to contribute not only rhythmically, but also melodically, on Michael Brecker’s “original rays” on Brecker’s first release on impulse records.

and finally, if you are ever in NYC and have a chance to see any band that includes Lewis Nash on drums, drop everything and go!!!
Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, 
Jack DeJohnette. There is one big difference...DeJohnette got paid very well.

If anyone ever makes it down to the low country try to get a seat for the second set at Jazz Corner when Deas Guys play. Chris Russell keeps time with anyone.
What do you call a drummer that breaks up with his girlfriend?

Sorry...couldn't resist.
Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones,
Jack DeJohnette. There is one big difference...DeJohnette got paid very well.

Sadly, yes. DeJohnette lived long enough.
Rock drummers: If you haven't heard Art Tripp (of Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band) especially in person (I had the pleasure circa 1972 at USC and in the then in the semi-abandoned Fox West Coast Theater in Long Beach, CA), I recommend his work. I also like Ginger Baker and the recent documentary is very interesting and entertaining, too!
Kenny Aronoff. Played for John Mellencamp, Melissa Etheridge, John Fogarty, Joe Cocker, The BoDeans and many, many more. Great drummer to see and hear.
+1 for Hal Blaine, Jim Keltner, Steve Gadd and Vinnie Colaiuta.

The drummer that I find really fascinating is Brian Blade (probably best known for his work with Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois). This guy is all over the drum kit; but, he does so in a very subtle way, which is probably why his playing services the song rather than showing off.
"Great musicians who should have been famous except...."
   That's a good question but it depends on who you ask....the public or other musicians?  All of the names mentioned here are outstanding. Kudos to those that recognize Steve Gadd as one of the great drummers.
   Steve has been, and still is, one of the most sought after drummers. Especially for studio work. It may be harder to name people he hasn't performed with than those he has.
   In his 70's now he still performs. He is a native of Rochester, NY, where I reside. Every year Rochester hosts a multi day event called the Rochester International Jazz Show. Because Gadd is a Rochester native, the tickets are almost impossible to come by. He still has the skill to play.
   If anyone would like to listen to some of his early work try to find an album called Stuff. Stuff was the original band that played of the early Saturday Night Live TV shows. The album is a mix of music but maybe tuned to the more jazz taste.
   Good to hear that Gadd is included in the group of fantastic drummers mentioned here.

Let’s not forget the Allman Brothers drummers, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe (sp?) Johnson.   Fabulous tandem
So my original thesis was Alex was under appreciated because he lived in the highly lucrative yet completely overwhelming VH umbrella. I still offer that without the VH tattoo, could he have been better? Technically I say no. But with other people... yes.  
Since drummers are in the spotlight-Rock particularly, don't forget Jeff Porcaro, who was a 70-80's studio go-to. 

Those not familiar, drummer in Toto.
Impressive  resume as far as pop music.
His Wiki list isnt complete.
Gadd is also on some of the Steely Dan albums. Brian Blade is real good, he works with Buddy Miller too. Porcaro was fantastic, famous for the part he came up with for Boz Scaggs' "Lido Shuffle". Too bad he had to sully his good reputation by being in Toto ;-) . One of my long-time favorites is Harry Stinson, currently drummer in Marty Stuart's fantastic band The Fabulous Superlatives (and the Nashville studios).
Take a look at the intro to "Cissy Strut," by the Meters.  Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste is the drummer and is strong, powerful and musical as hell. 

A fine example of the drummer "playing the song," on drums.
- Bob
Check out Gene Krupa in the movie Ball of Fire.  He plays a solo on a matchbox with two matchsticks.  It was after the director called cut-but the camera man had kept filming.  Unbelievable dynamics on an impromptu solo during a  movie break.  Rest of the movie is blah.  So many talented drummers to choose from.
Several mentions of Aja, but no credit for Bernard Purdie’s Great work on that album?
Speaking of Steve Gadd, I was just listening to him with Eric Gale, Richard Tee and Tony Levin, the “backup band” for Paul Simon’s “One Trick Pony”.  Such an amazing unit, and Paul Simon was still writing incredible tunes then.  Massively under appreciated album, in my opinion.
Bobby Caldwell. If he wants to listen to a good hard rock drummer get him the self-titled Captain Beyond album. Super playing on every song. Jack DeJohnette, very musical jazz drummer. Many great ones already mentioned here, in many genres. In listening to my Beatles albums I feel Ringo is underrated as a drummer. Billy Cobham also composed much of the music on his solo lps. I love it when I read credits to what I am listening and see that the drummers wrote the song!!
My nomination for an underappreciated non-drummer is Greg Leisz, the extraordinary lap steel & pedal steel player. 
It's a well kept secret that George Gobel played all the studio drums for The Beatles, The Stones and The Who.

My vote is for George Gobel.

All great drummers in the suggestions. My 2 cents are as follows. Brian Downey ( Thin Lizzy) Bill Buford (Yes) +1 Chester Thompson (also played with Early Frank Zappa) Glenn Kotche (Wilco) Tre Cool (Green day) for rock. Don’t get me started on Jazz and blues.  Almost and not sure how but who could forget Keith Moon. ( Who ) if my son was a drummer with a rock inclination these drummers have the discipline to add punctuation to music. Which is a drummers role in music.