History of Rock and Roll Drumming

Drums Kit and Drumming

Appearance of Rock and roll during 1940s and 1950s brought incredible revolution in the history of popular music, kick-starting new era of music industry and establishing many new ways of using old instruments. While leading instruments like piano and saxophone faded from use during mid-1950s, other instruments came into spotlight, most notably guitars and drums.

With the invention of foot-operated bass drum pedals that were introduced to the public by Ludwig & Ludwig Co. of Chicago during first decade of 20th century, use of first drum kits became commonplace when Rock and Roll came into popularity. Initially using simple three or four drum kits, many bands and musicians managed to popularize rock & roll drum setups that quickly reached other genres.

First basic Rock and Roll drum kits used one snare drum, one bass drum, one or more tom-toms and varying number of cymbals and hi-hats. This configuration changed over time, with each individual drummer creating their own set, and popularizing it to the world.

The incredible popularization of the rock music during 1960s brought the drummers from the back of the band to the potlight, with several drummers cultivating around them an aura of the true rock stars (John Densmore of the Doors, Keith Moon of the Who, Mitch Mitchell who played for Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr of the Beatles). Many of those popular drummers introduced new techniques for playing, new flashy solos and more.

Rock Drumming

During 70s and 80s, rock drummers around the world experimented with expanded kits, introduction of many other percussion instruments, and experiments with sets that had no cymbals or sets that had 2 or more bass drums (up to four with the case of Van Halen). During 90s and 2000s, appearance of electronic drums and computer driven music applied significant pressure to the traditional drummers. Most of the rock performers scaled back their kits to the standard four-piece set, continuing to popularize this great instrument in countless popular songs and genres.

RollingStone magazine’s reader list of the best drummers of all time:

Modern Drum Kit