Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR READERS: Awhile back, the subject of the all-time best drummers and drum solos on record. Here are some of the interesting comments we received:

The best drummer is Gene Krupa. Just watch "Sing Sing Sing" in the movie "Hollywood Hotel." However, the best drumming on record is Buddy Rich's 10-minute "The Monster."

Another personal favorite is "Drum Boogie" from the Gene Krupa-Buddy Rich "Drum Battle."
—Woody Welch, Milwaukee

The greatest drumming record has to be either Cozy Cole's "Topsy," or Gene Krupa's "Sing Sing Sing."
—John Jensen, Kirkland, Wash.

A whole generation of drummers — myself included — cut their teeth on Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," played by Ron Bushy. This classic is one of the first "musical" drum solos in rock history.
—Ken Raisanen, Ontonagon, Mich.

I don't know how to compare rock drumming to, say, big band era recordings. So, let me just say that Ronnie Tutt's marvelous work on Elvis' concert versions of "Proud Mary" and "Suspicious Minds" is as good as it gets.
—Teresa Goodman, Phoenix

Though not known primarily as a drummer, Karen Carpenter proved how good she was on their "Now and Then" album. She drums on hits like "Sing" and "Yesterday Once More," and really excels on the "'60s Medley" and "This Masquerade."
—Brian Mickelson, Milwaukee

I have seen many great jazz drummers; however, Louis Bellson's "Skin Deep" is the most outstanding performance by far.

I saw him once and he drummed as fast with his feet as with his hands. Then, when you think he's playing as fast as any human could, he goes twice as fast.

While playing like lightning, he also manages to toss his sticks into the air, clap his hands a couple of times, then catch the falling sticks, and never missing a beat.
—Philip Lones, Largo, Fla.

The all-time greatest drum solo is on Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." It's long. It's loud. It's soft. It's great!
—Doug Everett, York, Pa.

The best drum solo ever recorded is by the Ventures' Mel Taylor, as heard on "The Ventures Live in Japan '65." This 10-minute track is the best of its era, combining big band and swing with '60s rock and roll, all on just a four-piece drum set.
—John Tokacki, Dallas

My favorite drum solo is "Back Beat No. 1," an obscure instrumental single by the Rondells that came out in 1961 (Amy 825). It always leaves me wondering … who are these guys?
—Ken Holt, Milwaukee

The best drum solo to date is "Big Noise From Winnetka," by Gene Krupa. Expanding the question a bit, my vote for best drum solo on video would be Buddy Rich, with music from "West Side Story."
—Dick Edwards, Salt Lake City

There's a big difference between best drumming on record, and best solo. The two best solos are Gene Krupa on "Sing Sing Sing" and Joe Morello on "Castilian Drums."
As for a whole album, nothing beats the Who's Keith Moon on "Live at Leads."
—Jeff Cebulski, Burlington, Wis.

It's no contest! Gene Krupa did the best drum solo on "Sing Sing Sing," a 1930s recording he made with Benny Goodman,
—Bette of Des Moines, Wash.

Finally, we once asked one of rock and roll's great drummers, the late D.J. Fontana.
D.J., who kept the beat on most of Elvis Presley's '50s and '60s recordings, said:
"I think I'd have to choose one from the big band era. It would probably be Gene Krupa's "Sing Sing Sing."
—D.J. Fontana, Nashville (April 2018)

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