The 5 drummers that Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain listed as influences

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One of the most talented Heavy Metal drummers of all time, Nicko McBrain achieved fame after he joined Iron Maiden in 1982 and was praised for his work on albums like: “Piece Of Mind” (1982), “Powerslave” (1984) and Somewhere in Time (1986). An influence to many generations of musicians worldwide, McBrain listed in an interview with Sound Royalties back in 2019, 5 drummers that influenced him the most. Rock and Roll selected what he said over the decades about those rockers and his connection with some of them.

The 5 drummers that Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain listed as influences

Joe Morello

In an interview with Cosmo Music back in 2019 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), McBrain revealed that Morello was his first influence: “Joe Morello was a guy which I saw him do a drum solo live on telly with Dave Brubeck, the track ‘Take Five’, must have been 62, middle of 62. I was 10, I remember seeing this guy. I went straight to the television. You know, he didn’t had real dark sunglasses.”

“But he had the shades on and he just flew around his drum set. Dad was there ironing and I said ‘Dad! Who’s that?’ And he goes ‘That’s Joe Morello’. I said ‘That’s what I wanna do!’. He said ‘You will never be as good as Joe Morello’ and I went ‘Oh, ok. I went out beat the shit out of my mom’s cooker, thinking I was Joe. I’ve just seen him playing. He inspired me. He made me pick up a pair of sticks.”

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States back in 1928, Joe Morello was one of the most influential Jazz drummers of all time. He is best known for playing in the Dave Brubeck quartet from 1957 to 1972.

Ringo Starr

Also in the conversation with Cosmo Music in 2019, McBrain talked about Ringo Starr‘s influence, saying: “I had a poster of him on the wall. I’l go to bed and say ‘I’m gonna do that, I’m gonna be better than him. I’m gonna play with The Beatles (Laughs)’. So that kind of inspired me”.

One of the most important elements of the sound The Beatles created, Ringo Starr influenced a whole generation. When the Liverpool quartet came to an end in 1970, Starr released in the same year his first solo album “Sentimental Journey”. It was the beginning of his successful solo career.

Charlie Watts

The late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts was another big influence to McBrain and he paid tribute to the musician in an interview with WRIF radio station in 2021 a few months after his death, saying: “Charlie is a sad loss to the music world and the drumming fraternity across the table. He will influence all these drummers that are getting into that music from The Stones. He’s a jazz drummer. He came from a jazz background. He played traditional grip; also he played orthodox as well. Matched grip as well, but that was his main style. Just a wonderful, wonderful player,” Nicko McBrain said.

Often called the rock that kept The Rolling Stones beat going, Charlie Watts was band’s drummer for 59 years, until his death in 2021 at the age of 80. He was part of every album of the band and helped them to become one of the best-selling bands of all time with more than 240 million records sold worldwide.

Keith Moon

Nicko McBrain is not only a big fan of Keith Moon‘s drumming but he was also lucky enough to have seen the musician live. Talking with Gibson Sylvestre back in 2020, the musician talked about the experience, saying (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage): “What I think really possibily defined me was ‘My Generation’ with Keith Moon. When I first saw Keith Moon playing and it was live! I was used to playing straight poppy songs. But when Mooney came out he broke that mold. It’s like saying when Louie Bellson did ‘Skin Deep’ (Album) with two bass drums, he broke the mold from going from a single bass drum, drum set which was the norm in the 30s. It was like a wild guy behind the kit (Moon). I thought ‘That’s me! That’s how I like to play’,” Nicko McBrain said.

An influential drummer, specially for drummers that played fast, The Who‘s Keith Moon was also a key element of the band’s sound and made many of their tracks sound even more epic. He sadly died too soon at the age of 32 back in 1978.

John Bonham

Nicko McBrain was lucky enough to have met John Bonham once at the Roxy Club in Los Angeles in the mid-70s and as he told Cosmo Music, the Zeppelin drummer was very drunk. He played Led Zeppelin‘s classic “Immigrant Song” at the Bonzo Bash back in 2013, event that celebrates the legacy of John Bonham.

The legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham is one of the most influential musicians in history. His work was crucial especially for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal for drummers. His incredible bass drum technique was an important part of the band’s sound. He sadly died too soon at the age of 32 back in 1980. Only two years after his friend Keith Moon died at the same age.

Rafael Polcaro: I am a Brazilian journalist, a Classic Rock and Heavy Metal lover. Music has always been part of my life, helped me through tough moments and was with me to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After college I did a postgraduate degree in digital communication. This has helped me to make the website better and bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG