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The 3 drummers that Phil Collins said that had good drum solos

Phil Collins
Images from Phil Collins' Youtube and Instagram


The 3 drummers that Phil Collins said that had good drum solos

Phil Collins is one of the few artists who were able to sell more than 100 million records as a solo act and as a member of a band. He was forced to become the Genesis vocalist after Peter Gabriel left in 1975 and he discovered in the early 80s that he could also be extremely successful on his own.


Even though he is best known nowadays manly as a successful singer, the musician initially achieved respect and fame as drummer, something that was crucial for his songwriting even when being the frontman became the main focus of his career. Curiously, he is a drummer that is not a big fan of drum solos, something that is not very common among who plays the drums.

In an interview with Modern Drummer magazine back in 1983 he revealed which were the 3 drummers that had good drum solos in his opinion. Rock and Roll Garage selected what he said about those artists over the decades and his connection with some of them.

The 3 drummers that Phil Collins said that had good drum solos

John Bonham

“What I don’t like, and what bores me stiff with any kind of solos, are the cliches. When I saw Bonham play before he joined Led Zeppelin, he did a solo and it was the first solo I’ve ever stood up for and applauded. He was wonderful.”

“He was doing all the crossover stuff with his hands, no sticks! It was very new then. He used to be a bricklayer, so his hands were as hard as rocks. He was doing all this stuff, and triplets on the bass drum. I couldn’t believe it,” Phil Collins told Modern Drummer.

Collins has always been a huge fan of John Bonham even before Led Zeppelin was formed. Talking with BBC 6 Radio back in 2016 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) recalled that he saw the late drummer playing at the Marquee Club with the American singer Tim Rose.

“He did this hit version of ‘Morning Dew’. He was on tour and had this guy John Bonham on drums. I went to see Tim Rose. But when I saw Bonham I had never seen anything like it.”

Phil Collins continued:

“He had the best bass drum of anybody I’ve ever seen. I became a convert there. So I started to follow him wherever he was doing rude to be playing in a band. Next time I saw him was with Led Zeppelin, when they were still called The New Yardbirds. The early Led Zeppelin was something to behold because nobody was doing that,” Phil Collins said.

John Bonham tragically died back in 1980 at the age of 32. The remaining members of Led Zeppelin decided that the band couldn’t continue without Bonzo that was for them was an fundamental part of their sound.

Buddy Rich

Another drummer that Phil Collins praised during the Modern Drummer interview was the Jazz legend Buddy Rich. “Buddy Rich is still one of the masters. When he does a fill, perfect you know. No matter what you like or don’t like about Buddy Rich, there’s still something there that is definitive of its time.”

Buddy died in 1987 at the age of 69 and Collins didn’t had the chance to perform with the musician. However, in 1998 he was invited by Buddy’s daugther to perform with her late father’s Big Band at a tribute show. He accepted the invitation and performed with the band many songs from Buddy, Collins, The Beatles and more.

In the interview with BBC 6 Radio back in 2016 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), Collins even said that in his opinion Buddy is the best drummer that ever existed. “I think he is (The greatest drummer of all time). You can say what you like about Buddy.”

Phil Collins continued:

“A lot of people have said bad things. I met him once. First of all, with the playing alongside The Beatles and The Who, and all the pop star, I was also listening to big-band jazz.”

“So Count Basie was someone on his band and Buddy Rich and I came across this West Side Story medley of Buddy Rich in 1965. Still is an incredible piece of work. If you never heard you should. He is on top form troughout the whole thing. So for me, I just wanted to do that one day. Which is why I did my big band,” Phil Collins said.

Tony Williams

Another legendary Jazz drummer that pleased Phil Collins with his solos was the late Tony Williams, who is known as one of the pioneers of Jazz Fusion. He played with names like Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz and much more.

In the interview with Modern Drummer back in 1983, Collins explained why he would usually get bored with drum solos but the ones from Williams were an exception.

“(…) But it’s so bloody boring to see someone just doing rolls with the bass drum, or throwing a stick up and catching it, or things like that. It’s so predictable. No matter how good the solo, it’s predictable that you start there and it’s going to get there. You’re disappointed because they don’t realize how predictable it is, either.”

“It’s pandering to the masses, really. Kids like to see it, but they’re not going to want anything better unless you give them something better. I can watch Tony Williams do a drum solo because it will blow me away. Either you got it or you ain’t. That’s what it boils down to,” Phil Collins said.

Tony Williams died back in February 26, 1997 at the age of 51 victim of a heart attack.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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