Top of pageBottom of page   By zeke ( on Thursday, April 01, 2004 - 09:52 pm:

I'm sure someone's going to say, "hey man, why're you comparing these great drummers?" Well, because I want to - period...(smile!) We all have our favorites, and it's nice and freeing to the mind and soul to admit that... It's not about comparing your children, or something, just drummers and their riffs, what they brought to the table...

Gotta admit that Benny's playing was so beautifully busy, that you couldn't help but notice that this man was a master who could play anything... He brought a jazz sensibility to the Motown sound... Earl just seems to be sheer thunder and lightning, particularly on those freakin' Salsoul cuts, like Ten Percent and Hit and Run... The thunder rolls from that mans' drum kit!!!

I admit, I don't want to play favorites, but I want to know if you all have a favorite among these gentlemen, or even some other folks that stand out, and stand the test of time, like Earl Palmer, Bernard Purdy, or Lynn Bruce... Come on y'all, lets give these drummers some...


Top of pageBottom of page   By Juicefree20 ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 02:12 am:

What I will say is that Benny was steady. He was bad, yet never got out of the pocket. He played with drive & I imagine that those skins were happy when he finished pounding on them. He must've been a drum manufacturers dream, probably wore out a whole mess of heads.

I thought that Al Jackson was one of the greatest. With Booker T & The MGs & later with The Hi Rhythm Section, Mr Jackson laced Al Green with some of the tastiest drum licks ever. That brother had some finesse & never missed a beat, his timing was impeccable. Al had a unique style & was one of the masters.

Now Early Young had a serious bag of tricks. This brother played some of the fastest drum rolls that I ever heard. Just listen to some of those classic Salsoul, Trammps & Philly Intl cuts & see what I mean. I loved Earls style. As a DJ, Earls drumming kept you on you toes. As a DJ, he could drive you crazy. Think of the various tempo changes during the Long version of Love Is The Message. Think of first few measures of the remix version of Let No Man Put Asunder, or, the various tempo changes of My Love Is Free. If you weren't on point & paying attention, a DJ could get lost all up in his sauce. That's why you hear so many of todays "DJs" just throw those songs in. You had to know how & where to mix songs like that in, you couldn't fake it. If you did, the crowd would send you a happy chant saying;"KILL THE DJ!!!" Earl made you work, he was just so fast & innovative with his style.

I would have to give Mr Purdie major props just for all of those tasty licks he made for Atlantic records. How can one choose between these men? Each of them brought a unique style & some serious skills to the table. I couldn't honestly choose one over the other. They all did their thing & they did it like Michaelangelo painted the Sistine....VERY WELL!!!!


Top of pageBottom of page   By drums ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 07:13 am:

Hi there,

I personally love both drummers equally! :) They have both made major contributions to the art of drumming and have both stayed true to their craft.

The way that they played also is a result of the interaction of the other musicians and producers who asked them to play in a particular way.

The end result is the "Motown Sound" & "TSOP". A lot of people dont realize that any drummer that had to play within those two groups would have had to recognize that the group counted first, not just how fast his rolls were or how fast he could execute the coolest lick.

Vinnie Colaiuta, who hands down is the best drummer in the world, voted by his peers in Modern Drummer magazine has told me and others that he would not get calls to work because he wasnt listening and doing tons of crazy stuff at the wrong time. Now that he learned to only do that when asked for, he plays for everyone, including Sting, Joni Mitchell, Chaka Khan, and countless others.

Now, if I were an up and coming drummer, I would listen to both and learn both styles, which would benefit me in the long run

But thats just me :)

Daren Metz
Sony Music/Luka Digital Systems

Top of pageBottom of page   By johneflat ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 07:31 am:

well....I must give credit to the drummers for James Brown, who were ALL funky! I first took notice of Motown with FINGERTIPS pt.2! Spyder Webb really snapped my socks! and I thought he played on ALL Motown tracks.

Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 08:04 am:

Who can really say who is best? Every drummer has his or her own particular style.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Malcolm T. ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 08:59 am:

Panama Francis was hot,hot,hot,eh!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Bradburger ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 09:28 am:

Roger Hawkins - one hell of a drummer sadly forced into retirement due to tinitus I understand.

Al Jackson was awesome too. I love his rat-a tat-tat style on those early Stax records. Of course he came up with some top rhythms on those Al Green and other later Hi cuts too.

Back to the original question. Well I shamefully admit that I've never heard much of or studied Earl Youngs style. It something that I've been meaning to do!

But I guess Benny will always be my favourite!

Like Mr Jackson & Hawkins, he had an unmistakable beat and style that has influenced drummers all over the world.



Top of pageBottom of page   By Gary ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 09:45 am:

I started playing drums when I was 10 - right at the height of the 60s Motown craze. For the first 3 or 4 years, the ONLY drummer I tried to emulate was Benny Benjamin, even though I didn't even know his name until years later. Benny was and still is my idol, he was bad, but many people tend to overlook Pistol Allen's chops. Pistol, along with Uriel Jones and Andrew Smith are the main reasons why the Motown Sound remained constant even after Benny's death.

Earl Young, Al Jackson, Jr., Billy Cobham, Bernard Purdie, Omar Hakim, Clyde Stubblefield, Jabo Starks would all rank among my personal favorites after Benny.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 10:14 am:

Being a very rhythymic person myself, I have always been in tune with all of the great session drummers for their individualistic, stylistic idiosyncracies which made them special in their own right.

Regarding Earl Young, the way that all three of the Sigma studios were set up insofar as our rhythm section was concerned, Norman and I sat directly IN FRONT of Earl.
If you were to look at the front of the kit facing earl, Norman was to the left and i was to the right, with Ronnie to Earl's left toward the back of where I was sitting .
There was a medium baffle around the kick drum and a smal baffle around Ronnie's Ampeg B- 15, and thats it.

Based on where I sat, I had the wonderous pleasure of hearing and FEELING Earls thunderous groves for a lot of years.
His beats still are etched in my soul!

Earl was /is not a technical drummer.
He's not a jazz man, he is a GROOVE MAN and a SOUL MAN!
In fact, he never set out to be a drummer AT ALL.
He was a do-wop bass singer who had great rhytm and dabbled on the drums as a hobby and quite by accident, wound up on a Harthon session when Slim, the hired drummer didnt show up.
many have TRIED to duplicate his patented feel, but ONLY Earl can play in correctly, just like only Earl Palmer can play his patented "boogie woogie shuffle" grove prominent on tons of New Orleans records, a god example being Sea Cruise and Rockin Pneumonia.
IO have to laugh when I hear records like Vogue by Madonna with whomever tried to programme that bogus Earl Young drum part.
The should have just hired Earl.

Benny, imo was "busy".
I like Uriel and/or Pistol better.

My other fave session cats were Al Jackson, for his "slightly behind the beat" understated and tasty coolness, Ed Greene , for all the great Barry White records, Harvey Mason, John Robinson, and last but not least, Charles Collins, who by the way was the drummer on Salsoul Hustle.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Tony Russi ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 10:30 am:

As a percusionist, Benny Benjamin was my idol HOWEVER, Pistol Allen & Uriel Jones were very close to Bennys' greatness in my book.In my late teens I started idolizing Clyde Stubblefield & Jabo Starks 2 of the funkiest drummers to ever grace our planet.

Top of pageBottom of page   By drums ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 11:00 am:

I forgot,

I had a chance to do some demo's in Gladwyne a few years ago, and some of the engineers had worked at Sigma and a few of the other studio's in Philly. I must have been doing something they liked because they called me "Little Earl Young"! I told them thank you, but I was just doing what fit the songs!

I also grew up in Detroit and had gone to Hitsville many times (Thanks Uncl John! :)) and got a chance to soak up the place and learn about Papa Zita, Uriel & Pistol before SITSOM became a movie!

So I am proud of the accomplishments of both and hope that I am keeping the same grooves as both of them


Top of pageBottom of page   By mhc ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 11:11 am:

I'm a fan of all the drummers mentioned here, but Earl Palmer is my favorite. Yesterday I heard "Let's Dance" by Chris Montez on the radio and was really digging it; it's just one more among hundreds of classic performances by the King of session drummers..

Top of pageBottom of page   By Livonia Ken ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 11:22 am:

Well, since we're giving the drummers some, I'm glad that Tony mentioned Jabo Starks and Clyde Stubblefield and that Bobby dipped down to New Orleans to credit Earl Palmer, but I feel the need to mention my favorite funky New Orleans drummer: Joseph Modeliste!


Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 11:57 am:

Good to see you posting pal. How the hell are you? Hope all is well.

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 12:52 pm:

While I feel that Papa Zita, Pistol, Uriel, Earl Palmer, Clyde Stubbefield and Al Jackson definitely defined R&B drums, I gotta give props to three of New Orleans' most underrated drummers - SMOKEY JOHNSON, ALBERT "JUNE" GARDNER and the late JAMES BLACK.

Smokey Johnson was known for having a "boulder-foot" on the kick and drum rolls for days. "It Ain't My Fault" is a rare release that best shows his style of drumming.

Albert "June" Gardner played for the late Sam Cooke on many of his later RCA sessions (including the 1964 Live At The Copa disc). After Sam's death, June returned to New Orleans & cut "99 Plus One" for the Nola/Hot Line label - which was picked up by Mercury for national release. His steady style of drumming anchors his rare single "It's Gonna Rain" (which has become a favorite among scratch/mix DJs).

Finally, the late James Black. Fast but not frantic, James took the traditional "Second Line" drum style and turned it over on its ear. James played on the Dixie Cups "Chapel Of Love" while staying in NYC but his best work can be heard on Eddie Bo's rare funk classic "The Hook & Sling".

Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By Gary ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 01:01 pm:

I almost forgot to mention my man, Jerome "Big Foot" Brailey of George Clinton's P-Funk Mob, the self-described "Funkiest Drummer On The Planet".

Top of pageBottom of page   By Isaiah ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 09:16 pm:

Damn, Juice, how in hell could I leave Al Jackson off my list???(smile!) Zeke, take your ass over to the corner, and stand there facing the wall foir a while(smile!)

DVDMike, you're right, there are no bests, just personal preferences... Shoulda phrased it as who is your personal best or favorite... Gotta remember that, because I really hate these who's the best threads... Oh, well, next time(smile!)


Top of pageBottom of page   By Juicefree20 ( on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 10:01 pm:

Hey Isaiah, don't feel bad. How in the world did I leave off Jabo & Clyde. I was just answering based on the names presented. Still, that's no excuse & I am humbled by my foolishness. I have just lost any cool points that I've accumulated over the past 43 years of my life. I have committed an unforgivable & eggregious error, as James was only my idol. I will now listen to Sex Machine & Cold Sweat 200 times as pennance for my wicked ways!!!!


Top of pageBottom of page   By me ( on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 05:41 am:

Papa Zita hands down! James Jamerson's bass was Benny Benjamin's drumming...was Motown.... I know

Top of pageBottom of page   By MagyarEd ( on Tuesday, April 06, 2004 - 08:53 pm:

Andrew Smith and Charles Collins. Were they better, or, were they the me? But thanks for jogging my memory about those two talents.

Top of pageBottom of page   By sly fan ( on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 04:13 am:

Earl Young, Jabbo Starks, James Gadson, "Pistol" and Bad,Bad, Bad Steve Gadd.

Top of pageBottom of page   By sly fan ( on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 04:15 am:

Charles Collins!

"Runaway" andn "When Love Is New" are my jams!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By sly fan ( on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 04:20 am:

The great Bill Lordan was pretty nice too...

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