History & Culture

Drum Quotes: 8 of the Most Famous Drumming Quotes of All Time

Drummers have some great insight. When we look back at the greats of our time, it can be very inspiring to see some of the words they’ve shared as they have passed on their legacies.

Here are some of my favorite famous and most notable drumming quotes of all time.

1) Stewart Copeland

“Drummers shouldn’t just think of themselves as drummers. If you’re going to be a musician, you should expand your horizons, compose things, and work with other instruments.” -Stewart Copeland

What a fantastic quote. Drummers who strictly limit themselves to drums and rhythm alone are missing out on such a large landscape of musical creativity.

Even if you never get great at other instruments, you can still apply ideas of tonality and melody to your drumming (fills for example). The drummer who keeps learning and exercising has a lifetime of love for the art.

2) Buddy Rich

“Average band with a great drummer sounds great, great band with an average drummer sounds average.”Buddy Rich

This is a very self-indulgent quote for us drummers. We know it and hear it all the time. Whether it be the radio or seeing a performance live, drums are usually the first thing we hear and see.

Removing this bias is hard to do, but it should be important for not only those around us but also for us to have a better objective view of all forms of music.

I remember taking music theory classes in college. When I would go to see a performance with my peers, my brain was constantly attempting to figure out what chords were happening, what time signatures, modes, and everything else.

I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the music anymore, by trying to analyze every second of it. Learning how to turn this switch off is very important for all musicians.

3) Neil Peart

“The reality is that my style of drumming is largely an athletic undertaking, and it does not pain me to realize that, like all athletes, there comes a time to… take yourself out of the game.” Neil Peart

More true words have never been uttered. Neil Peart’s style is very technical and requires an insane amount of stamina and power. It’s no wonder why he decided to take a break from drumming after a long forty or so years.

That style of playing had taken a toll on him. He and Rush have given the world a massive amount of music. Sadly, Neil passed away in January of 2020. He was regarded as one of the greatest drummers of all time.

4) Tony Williams

“I think my playing has been orchestral throughout the years, and this is another way of expressing that. But I primarily see it as the ultimate accomplishment of a musician. Composing makes me feel like I’ve finally gotten all the way up the ladder as a musician.” -Tony Williams

Great words from a wonderful musician. Tony Williams is completely correct in stating that composition has the power to really fulfill a musician’s needs.

Bringing a sense of the orchestra to the drum set is no easy feat and doing so requires such a tact discipline.

5) John Bonham

“Drumming was the only thing I was ever good at.” -John Bonham

And a good thing too. Had John Bonham never started playing the drums, we may have never seen many of our favorite rock bands come into existence.

Is there not a drummer out there who hasn’t been influenced, at least a small amount, by John Henry Bonham? It’s unfortunate that we lost him so early in his career.

6) Zak Starkey

“Playing with The Who is the biggest rush there is. At eleven years old I used to go to bed dreaming about what I’m doing now. I don’t know how many people can say that.”Zak Starkey

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7) Elvin Jones

“It’s the honesty you apply to your playing that makes music enjoyable. The style of the music has little to do with it. It’s only honesty makes it beautiful.” -Elvin Jones

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8) Keith Moon

“They’re always saying I’m a capitalistic pig. I suppose I am. But… it’s good for my drumming.” -Keith Moon

I had to end with a whacked quote. This one comes from one of the greatest drummers of all time, Keith Moon. I have a feeling that he enjoyed telling the press strange things. Every quote I found from Keith had some strange spazz to it.

What are some of your favorite drumming quotes? Feel free to list them below and we’ll add them to the list.

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Contributions from Drumming Review Staff are from drummers and percussionists with a variety of different backgrounds, both professional and amateur. Interested in making a contribution? Click on 'Contact Us' at the bottom right of the page.

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