15 of the Greatest Singing Drummers in History

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As if playing drums wasn’t hard enough, the twelve drummers featured in this article also put in stellar performances as singers in their respective bands.

In the classic rock band, you can usually see lead singers playing the guitar (usually the rhythm guitar) or not playing any instrument at all.

If you think that playing and singing at once is just too hard, think again! Let yourself be inspired by these legendary drummers and singers.

1. Phil Collins – Genesis

When Peter Gabriel left Genesis, drummer Phil Collins became the band’s lead singer, continuing, however, to play drums on both solo and Genesis releases.

We can hear his voice and drumming efforts in some famous songs such as In The Air Tonight (video above), and Dance on a Volcano.

Collins also collaborated with other bands either as a singer or as a percussionist. In 1976, for example, he played some percussion parts in Johnny The Fox, the seventh studio album by Irish rock band Thin Lizzy.

2. Don Henley – Eagles

The legendary Californian rock band Eagles featured a great singer on drums.

Don Henley is the lead singer on some of the band’s most known hits, such as Desperado, Hotel California, The Long Run, Get Over It, Witchy Woman, Best Of My Love, and One Of Those Nights.

Just like Ringo, Don Henley also pursued a solo career after the Eagles broke up, proving to be a great singer and songwriter too.

3. Karen Carpenter – The Carpenters

Featured among Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest singers of all time, Karen Carpenter was also a fine drummer, praised for her ability by contemporary critics and fellow musicians.

Karen used to play the drums, while singing on many of the duo songs, both in live concerts and studio recordings.

4. Micky Dolenz – The Monkees

This famous beatnik rock band originated as part of the American TV series that went under the same name. However, the series and the songs featured in the episodes were so successful, that the band is still remembered and loved by many rock’n’roll fans.

Drummer Micky Dolenz was the lead singer on many of the band’s most famous songs, including the smashing hit I’m A Believer.

5. Levon Helm – The Band

A great multi-instrumentalist, Levon Helm achieved the limelight by working as the drummer and lead singer for The Band, being also praised for his solo work. He plays and sings the legendary song The Weight.

6. Gil Moore – Triumph

Canadian power trio Triumph featured Gil Moore as both the drummer and the vocalist, a duty he shared with guitarist Rik Emmett.

A great heavy metal drummer, Gil Moore proved himself to be a strong vocalist and songwriter, as he wrote and sang most of the band’s most famous hits.

7. Ringo Starr – The Beatles

Let’s start from the foundation: The Beatles constituted an incredible source of inspiration for younger musicians and bands. They experimented in many possible ways with their sound, their lyrics, and their style.

One of the experiments they did on a few songs was having their drummer Ringo Starr as the lead singer. Ringo sang (and wrote) amazing hits, such as With A Little Help From My Friends, Octopus’ Garden, and Yellow Submarine.

He still plays and sings in the Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, a live rock supergroup in which he works as a singer and multi-instrumentalist.

8. Peter Criss – Kiss

The famous rock band Kiss released a few tracks sung by drummer Peter Criss.

The most prominent one is the romantic ballad Beth, featured in their 1976 album Destroyer. He also sang on Black Diamond and Hard Luck Woman.

9. Kelly Keagy – Night Ranger

The rock band quintet Night Ranger released many successful tracks sung by drummer Kelly Keagy, including Sister Christian, possibly their most famous hit, Sing Me Away, and Sentimental Street.

10. Roger Taylor – Queen

Known for his incredible falsettos, Roger Taylor is not only a fine drummer but also a very good singer and songwriter.

He sings in Bohemian Rhapsody, where he hits the highest notes in the harmonies. He also sings and plays his ironic hit I’m In Love With My Car.

After Queen broke up due to Mercury’s death, Roger Taylor had a brilliant solo career. He also founded another band, The Cross, where he plays the guitar and sings.

11. Dave Grohl – Nirvana/Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl became famous as the drummer of the legendary grunge band Nirvana, but he is also a really fine singer.

After the death of Kurt Cobain, he founded the band Foo Fighters, where he plays the guitar and sings. Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins sometimes sings too.

12. Don Brewer – Grand Funk Railroad

The hard rock band Grand Funk Railroad featured Don Brewer, drummer and co-lead vocalist (duty originally shared with rhythm guitarist Mark Farner).

Don Brewer sang in great hits, such as We’re an American Band, Shinin’ On, Walk Like a Man, and Dues.

13. Grant Hart – Hüsker Dü

Grant Hart is another drummer who joins the ranks on this list as singer/drummer. Hart was also the co-songwriter in his punk rock band Hüsker Dü. Some would argue that he had a more melodic voice than the main vocalist Bob Mould.

After having a solo career due to the bands disbanding, he still sang and performed, this time as a vocalist and guitarist, nevertheless, his resume is firstly drummer/singer, hence his involvement here today.

14. The Rev – Avenged Sevenfold

James “Jimmy” Owen Sullivan or “The Rev” (stage name) was the well-renowned drummer for Avenged Sevenfold who also contributed with his voice on multiple occasions.

Being a back vocalist isn’t as easy as people think so his singing credentials are impressive as others on this list. He was also part of numerous other projects where he was also a singer, pianist, drummer.

A multi-talented great that must be included on the list!

15. Mike Portnoy – Dream Theater

As the co-founder of the great Dream Theater, Miko Portnoy was not only the drummer but also the back vocalist for the band.

With so many projects under his belt as well as ongoing ones, Portnoy has been keeping busy and providing his drumming and singing skills in multiple groups such as Adrenaline Mob, Transatlantic, Yellow Matter Custard, Flying Colors, and many others.

Conclusion

Drummers who can sing are a rare breed, and those who can do it well are even more exceptional. In this list, I’ve highlighted some of the greatest rock drummers who also have a great singing voice.

These musicians are not only talented in their chosen instrument but can also hold their own when it comes to belting out a tune. Whether they are the main vocalist in their band or just provide backing vocals, these drummers make sure their voice is heard.

So if you are a fan of great singing and rocking drums, be sure to check out some of the artists on this list!

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Mike O'Connor

Drumming has been my passion for over 18 years. I play quite a few different genres and I really enjoy experimenting with hybrid kits that blend acoustic and electronic drums. I love all things drumming!

4 thoughts on “15 of the Greatest Singing Drummers in History”

  1. Roger Taylor of Queen is so talented. He is beautiful to watch when he drums, he’s a cool song writer and sings wonderfully! And he’s gorgeous!

    Reply
  2. Iggy Stooge (Pop) originally the drummer in Iggy & The Iguanas.
    Steven Tyler (originally played drums in his first bands)
    Eddie Vedder-Pearl Jam – originally played drums in his early bands.
    Skip Spence- original drummer on the first Jefferson Airplane album, went on to form Moby Grape playing guitar.
    Peter Rivera-Rare Earth – lead singer on all their hit songs.

    Reply
  3. Deen Castronovo! Ex-Journey, current The Dead Daisies. Sings Journey songs just as well as Steve Perry. Check out the song ‘Mother Father’ on You Tube. He is lead singer/drummer of Revolution Saints with Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich.

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