The Six Best Sloppy Drummers

Categories: Nitpick Six

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2. Meg White (White Stripes)
If Meg White sucks, as people often say she does, then why has every Jack White project not called White Stripes been inferior? Part of this phenomenon is certainly the creative energy the Whites bounce off each other, but a bigger part is Meg's fearless sloppiness. "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground" sounds like her drum kit is made of bombs. It's hard to find a drummer in an important band in modern history who cares less about keeping a solid tempo. She pushes, pulls, shoves, yanks. But each "imperfection" is human, and it makes The White Stripes' music breathe. Next time somebody complains about Meg White, put on a Raconteurs record and try to figure out why it's kind of lame.

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1. Bill Ward (Black Sabbath)
Like most sloppy drummers, Bill Ward eventually became un-sloppy. But, man, those first few Black Sabbath records, Ward was a straight-up caveman. The first big drum fill on "Iron Man" will always remind me of the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where the ape man figures out he can use bones as a weapon. When "Sweet Leaf" speeds up around the solo, Ward barely pulls off those runs around the toms. He hits the rim on accident at 3:00 and trails off a few seconds later on a different fill. The band had the resources to fix or redo these parts, but the band thankfully also had the resources to leave them in. Sabbath gets credit for inventing the "doom metal" genre, and that laid-back sledgehammer feeling that defines the style is textbook Bill Ward. In the lexicon of metal drummers, he's up there with Lars Ulrich, and Lars Ulrich sucks. More specifically, Ulrich's sloppiness on early Metallica comes off as weakness. Bill Ward is the best sloppy drummer because his sloppiness gave him strength.

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7 comments
daverdinj
daverdinj

As a drummer I am always working to improve my technique and tightness, while always looking for opportunities to break away from this foundation. While its unwise for a drummer to aim or settle for sloppy drumming, it is important to remember that perfect timing and precision doesn't always make for superior drumming. A lot of it depends on the genre, song and other bandmate's styles. Some of the most intense, exciting music I've heard lacks much in the way of rhythmic precision, but often that is what makes it exciting to listen to and gives it unique personality. While precise drumming is impressive and has it's place, always knowing exactly when and how the next snare, kick or cymbal hit will strike can be boring to listen to after a while, and can suck a lot of feeling out of a song.  Look at your drumming as a screw ...tighten it as much as possible, but when the music allows for it loosen it just enough so that it's still holding things together while allowing things to move.

daverdinj
daverdinj

As a drummer I am always working to improve my technique and tightness, while always looking for opportunities to break away from this foundation. While its unwise for a drummer to aim or settle for sloppy drumming, it is important to remember that perfect timing and precision doesn't always make for superior drumming. A lot of it depends on the genre, song and other bandmate's styles. Some of the most intense, exciting music I've heard lacks much in the way of rhythmic precision, but often that is what makes it exciting to listen to and gives it unique personality. While precise drumming is impressive and has it's place, always knowing exactly when and how the next snare, kick or cymbal hit will strike can be boring to listen to after a while, and can suck a lot of feeling out of a song.  Look at your drumming as a screw ...tighten it as much as possible, but when the music allows for it loosen it just enough so that it's still holding things together while allowing things to move.

kdj368
kdj368

Ok.    Kidding!


How the number of Big Time Bands that either broke up or whose albums thereafter became pretty lame after losing their drummer?  Hint -- lots of em.  Drummers are the backbone of the band.

kdj368
kdj368

What do you call a person that likes to hang out with musicians? 


A drummer.  ;)

JackGrimshaw
JackGrimshaw

Then-heavyweight champ Sonny Liston's priceless comment on seeing the Beatles (at Shea Stadium?): "My dog can play the drums better than that kid with the big nose."

delmarva
delmarva

I've heard Ringo called "fluid" but not sloppy before. But never mind that. Ringo was the last little bit of Tabasco sauce the Beatles needed to make themselves THE BEATLES. I'm not talking music; I'm talking presentation & public persona. The other 3 Beatles took themselves too seriously on stage -- John the moody rebel, Paul the stiff businessman and George the blend-in-with-the-drapes-&-just-play guy (though he's my fave). 

They needed a smiling, lovable clown or stuffed animal to help them all loosen their collars a bit. To help the public love *them*, not just their music. Pete Best in that role? No way. 

Ringo was that guy.

patrick355
patrick355

Ringo was brilliant and the Beatles wouldn't have been the Beatles without him.  "Ringo gets a lot of crap from musicians for being the least proficient Beatle at his instrument."  There's so much wrong with that sentence.  Not everyone who owns a guitar, a drum set or an opinion is a musician, and their opinions are worth less than a bucket of cold sweat.   Ringo's "problem" is precisely that he was too musical a player to stick out of the mix as a 'holy-shit, did-you-see-that?' drummer.  In the Venn diagram of Great Drummers and H.S.D.Y.S.T.? drummers, there's only one man in the intersection: John Bonham.  Everyone else who aspires to the latter obviates membership in the former.  

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