By Brian Ives
Earlier this week, Pearl Jam was announced as one of the nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2017 induction class. The band have had five drummers through their career, so to avoid any confusion, the Rock Hall announced that only two were getting in: original drummer Dave Krusen (who played on their debut, Ten) and current drummer Matt Cameron, who has been in the band since 1998. Notably excluded, though, was Dave Abbruzzese, who played on their classic second and third albums (1993’s Vs. and 1994’s Vitalogy). Yesterday, Abbruzzese addressed the snub on his Facebook page, saying, “They can’t justify ignoring my contributions.” Time will tell if the band actually get voted in (but we’d bet that they will be), and if they’ll make the argument that he should be included.
But it got us thinking about other drummers who have been snubbed and not included with their bandmates over the years. Here’s eleven drummers worthy of the Hall’s recognition.
Charles Connor (Little Richard’s Band): Straight up: you cannot overestimate the influence of the founders of rock and roll, or the people who played on their records. Sure, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard may not sound radical to you today, but when they were hitting the scene in the 1950s, they were way more wilder than any hip-hop, metal or punk rock is today. They were threatening to adults and liberating to young people. Little Richard’s music kicked up a storm, because of his wild vocals, flamboyant style and mind blowing piano playing. But the engine running those songs was drummer Charles Connor. Jame Brown, who Connor later played for, described the drummer as “the first to put funk into the rhythm.” If Elvis Presley’s drummer D.J. Fontana is a Hall of Famer, we think Connor should be too.
FYI – if you’re ever picked up a prize from KROQ – Charles also holds it down as KROQ’s security guard!
Chad Channing (Nirvana): In 2014, when Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Channing was under the impression that he’d be included with his former bandmates. He played on their debut album, Bleach, which to hardcore fans was the band’s finest moment (it includes “About a Girl,” “School” and “Blew”). However, as he told Radio.com, he was told via a forwarded text that “Chad Channing… isn’t being inducted… It is just Dave, Krist and Kurt.” Ouch.
John Rutsey (Rush): Only hardcore Rush fans realize that Neil Peart wasn’t always the band’s drummer. Rutsey was the original, and played on the band’s classic self-titled album from 1973 , which included some great Zep-influenced garage rock jams like “In the Mood” and “Working Man.” Sadly, when they were inducted in 2013, they didn’t even mention his name in their speech.
Pete Best (the Beatles): The most famous ex-drummer in the world, he’s the guy the Beatles sacked, replacing him with Ringo Starr (formerly of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes). While Best never played on the Beatles’ albums, he was there in their early days as a club band, and deserves some recognition for that.
Ernest “Boom” Carter (the E Street Band): It’s understandable that he wasn’t included in the E Street Band’s 2014 induction, since he only played on one song. But that song was “Born to Run.” Enough said.
John Kiffmeyer (Green Day): He played on their early material, including the 1,000 Hours EP from 1989 and 1990’s Slappy EP. When Green Day was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, they invited Kiffmeyer to perform with them at a House Of Blues gig two nights earlier, in a nod to his contributions to the band.
Buddy Miles (Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys): In 1992, when Jimi Hendrix was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was with his most famous backing band, the Experience (bassist Noel Redding, drummer Mitch Mitchell). But his other combo, the more jazzy and jammy Band of Gypsys (Miles on drums and vocals, Billy Cox on bass) deserve recognition as well. If you don’t agree, just listen to the live 1970 album Band of Gypsys and get back to us.
Eric Carr (KISS): When KISS was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, they opted not to perform. Frontmen Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were disappointed that only the founding lineup — which also included guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss — was included. Whether or not you agree that the Rock Hall should have ignored the later members of the band, their late drummer Eric Carr — who played on Creatures of the Night, Lick It Up, Animalize and Asylum, to name a few albums — was a crucial part of their ’80s makeup-free comeback and should have been considered.
Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers): Only one Heartbreaker drummer was included in their 2002 induction; founding member Stan Lynch. But Ferrone started playing with Petty on his classic 1994 solo album Wildflowers — which was only called a solo album because Lynch hadn’t yet quit the band (and keyboardist Benmont Tench bristled at the idea that it isn’t a Heartbreakers album in a recent Radio.com interview, saying “The fact is, it’s the first Heartbreakers album with the new drummer,”). But he’s been in the band for a lot of great, if underrated, albums like Echo, The Last DJ and Hypnotic Eye. Besides that, his resume includes sessions with Eric Clapton, Chaka Khan and Johnny Cash.
Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp’s band): Had John Mellencamp named his backing band as Tom Petty did, Aronoff would surely be a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Mellencamp’s classic era core band — which also included guitarists Mike Wanchic and Larry Crane, and bassist Toby Myers, and later fiddler Lisa Germano, keyboardist John Cascella and singers Crystal Talifero and Pat Peterson — were a great band in the studio and on the road and deserve their due credit.
Ralph Molina (Neil Young and Crazy Horse): When Neil Young was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, it was as a solo artist. But at the ceremony, Young had Crazy Horse – also including guitarist Frank “Pancho” Sampdero and bassist Billy Talbot – stand up, saying “I could never have made it without you guys.” Someone needs to get the ball rolling on Crazy Horse’s induction. If the E Street Band deserve it (and they do), so does the Horse.
Marc Quinones (the Allman Brothers Band): Ok, technically he wasn’t the Allman Brothers Band’s drummer, he was the percussionist. When the Allmans were inducted in 1995, only the original lineup — Gregg Allman, Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe — were included. But given that the band was such a powerful live force from the ’90s through their final concert in 2014, there’s a great argument to be made that the Hall should update their lineup with guitarist/singer Warren Haynes, guitarist Derek Trucks, bassist Oteil Burbridge, bassist Allen Woody and Quinones added to the Allmans’ lineup.