Drumming is too often stereotyped as a guy thing. Check some of the female drummers of all time in this list.
Of course, this is certainly not a definitive list, but it’s a good starting point!
1. Karen Carpenter
She is my personal favorite! Her drumming skills have been appreciated just as much as her contralto vocals by critics and musicians alike. When ‘The Carpenters’ started out, she mostly played drums.
Sadly, the audience didn’t want her hiding behind the drum kits. They wanted to see her on the stage as the focal point. Karen then became the main vocalist who called herself ‘the drummer who sang’.
However, it didn’t stop her from flaunting her skills and following her passion; she was often seen moving around the stage and banging the drums. She passed away when she was only 32 years old after battling complications of an eating disorder.
Watch this clip of Karen’s drum solo from the Carpenters’ 1976 television special and you will see how awesome she was:
2. Moe Tucker
The legendary drummer for the rock band the Velvet Underground, Moe Tucker is well-known for her drumming abilities, unconventional style and the cool factor that made her stand out among her peers.
She is a trendsetter for female drummers who preferred to play standing up with mallets rather than sitting down with a pair of drumsticks. As a teen, she spent hours and hours on her single snare drum hidden away in her bedroom.
She was working as a keypunch operator in IBM when Sterling Morrison (one of her brother’s friends and the guitarist for the New York City band) asked her to join and she ended up being up to the drummer for the Velvet Underground. She quit music in 1971 to raise her kids, but did some solo projects, joined Half Japanese for a while and participated in the 1993 Velvet Underground reunion.
3. Meytal Cohen
Meytal Cohen is an Israeli-American drummer who gained fame through her heavy-metal band ‘Meytal’. She owns a DW Drum Kit in a white finish which can be often seen in her music videos and live performances. She says on her website that it is pure fate that her name happens to sound just like her favorite genre of music!
Check out her website: https://www.meytalcohen.com/story/
4. Sandy West
Remember the 70’s most influential all-girl heavy rock band, The Runaways? The band consisted of a group of feisty teenage girls who showed the world that girls can rock just as well… or maybe, even better!
West was nine years old when her grandfather got her a drum kit seeing how crazy she was about rock and roll. The Californian musician began her drum-stricken musical journey when she was merely 13, and at 15, she met the co-founders of The Runaways, and the rest is history. She passed away when she was 47 years after losing a battle to lung cancer.
5. Cindy Blackman
The American jazz and rock drummer is known for her ferocious style and spectacular drumming techniques. You can tell how gifted she is from the way she handles her equipment.
Critics have called her a ‘virtuoso drummer who creates time on the drum’. Blackman has released a number of solo Jazz albums and has performed alongside Pharaoh Sanders, Joe Henderson, Bill Laswell and her rock guitarist husband, Carlos Santana.
In 1993, Lenny Kravitz called her for an audition and Blackman played drums over the phone. He immediately asked her to come to LA and perform on his live shows. More recently, she has been focusing more on Jazz.
Read more about Blackman on her website: https://cindyblackmansantana.com
6. Kavka Shishido
Kavka Shishido is a Japanese drummer and singer who started her musical journey as a part of an all-girl rock band, the News. She once admitted that although she loves to play drums, she finds it comforting as well because the cameras never focus on the drummer.
However, she caught enough attention with her intense, passionate drumming style, and unique vocals. In 2013, she released her debut album ‘Kavkanize’ and in all the promotions, you could see her strike the drums with utter panache.
7. Jen Ledger
Hailing from England, Jen Ledger is a drummer and co-vocalist for the American-Christian hard rock band ‘Skillet’.Ledger has been playing drums since the age of 13, and before joining Skillet, she was a drummer for a local band, won a scholarship at Living Light School of Worship to do majors of drums, and was a finalist for the United Kingdom Drummer of the Year competition in 2006.
She joined Skillet when she was merely 18 years old when the previous drummer, Lori Peters, left the band. Since then, she has been a recipient of several awards thanks to her aggressive drumming style and amazing vocals. She also released her debut album ‘Ledger’ in 2013.
8. Stella Mozgawa
Stella Mozgawa is an Australian drummer and a member of an indie-rock band ‘Warpaint’. Besides that, she has worked alongside various other musicians including Adam Green, Tom Jones, and Regina Spektor.
When Mozgawa was 13 years old, she began playing drums. She was a huge fan of Zan Hanson of the pop band ‘Hanson’ and her drumming style was mainly inspired by him. At the age of 14, she pretended to be a 20-year-old Polish immigrant in order to be allowed to play at Sydney music venues.
There she met Flea the bass guitarist of Red Hot Chili Peppers who told her to Los Angeles if she wished to pursue drumming. In LA, she met the members of Warpaint.
9. Evelyn Glennie
Can you play a musical instrument flawlessly if you are profoundly deaf? Can you train your other body parts to ‘hear’ because your ears cannot? It sounds impossible but Evelyn Glennie triumphed over!
She is a Scottish virtuoso percussionist who suffered from hearing loss at the age of 12. It didn’t stop her to become one of the world’s best drummers out there.
She has collaborated with a wide variety of orchestras and plays ‘barefoot’ to feel the beat and rhythm better. Due to determination and a passion for drumming, she now enjoys a full-time and highly successful career as a solo percussionist.
10. Honey Lantree
Referred to as a ‘rarity’, Honey Lantree was indeed a wonder. She was a drummer and a singer for a 60’s British rock band ‘The Honeycombs’. While the band was labeled as a one-hit wonder after their chart-topping song “Have I the Right?”, Lantree has often been called the first female drummer who even inspired Karen Carpenter to drum. What’s more, she was only female member in the band. She passed away in December 2018 at the age of 75.
Listen to Have I the Right? Here!