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9 Drummers That Became Lead Singers

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Dave Grohl then and now image
Roswell Records

It’s widely regarded that drummers are the most important members of a band. That’s what a drummer will tell you anyway. Sometimes though, they move from the drum stool to the front of the stage. Here are nine drummers that became lead singers.

9. Dave Grohl

The often labelled ‘nicest man in rock’ is the first on our list. Starting life as a drummer in hardcore bands he then joined Nirvana and changed music history. His drumming with them was solid, and perfectly complemented the chaos of Kurt Cobain’s manic guitars. You’d think the legacy he left with Nirvana would be enough. But after Kurt’s tragic suicide, he set up Foo Fighters and departed the drum stool for lead vocals and guitars. And what a fine job he does as the Foo’s are one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. Imagine being that talented and nice. We’re not jealous. Ok, maybe a little.

8. Don Henley

Not content with being a founding member of one of America’s greatest bands, The Eagles, Don decided to go solo in 1980 after the band split. Ok, this one is a bit tenuous as Don shared vocal duties with fellow Eagle Glenn Frey, but bear with me. In 1980 he went out front into the bright lights of a solo artist and released a slew of cracking songs. Boys of Summer being his most well-known, and what a gem that was. It was a wise choice to leave those sticks behind.

7. Phil Collins

Perhaps one of the most famous names on our list, Phillip David Charles Collins started life behind the kit with prog-rockers Genesis. Although he did lead vocal duties whilst drumming after the departure of Peter Gabriel in 1976, it’s his solo career that really took off. Genesis had some big hits throughout the 80s with Collins’s drumming and singing. But the bigger hits came with his solo career from 1981 onwards. There’s no denying he has some great chops behind the kit, but his voice is as familiar as your favourite shoes. And so are his hits. ‘In the Air Tonight’ was his debut solo single. It doesn’t get much better than that.

6. Roger Taylor

The legendary Queen drummer is known for his ability to hit those falsetto notes on many a Queen hit throughout their career. But he also had a string of solo albums don’t you know? Since 1981 he has released five solo albums. His last being from 2013, so maybe there are more to come? He sang and played most of the instruments on the albums as well. That’s impressive. They are also pretty good albums too. Although he still performs behind the kit with Queen and Adam Lambert, he’s shown he can be centre stage as a lead singer.

5. Todd La Torre

If you’re not a fan of progressive metal, then this one may have passed you by. Todd La Torre is the current singer for the progressive metal band Queensryche. But it wasn’t always that way as he started off in his career behind the kit. Having started playing at fourteen, he spent the next twenty-four years playing in a variety of local original and cover bands. It was only in 2010 when he joined Florida-based metal band, Crimson Glory, as their lead singer. He then replaced Geoff Tate as the frontman of Queensryche in 2012, continuing to this day. Although he’s been at the front of the stage for twelve years, he says that he still feels like a drummer who likes to sing. You can take the drummer away from the kit, but he’ll always be a drummer.

4. Karen Carpenter

Although Karen sadly passed away at aged thirty-two, she managed to achieve a lot of success in such a short space of time. There had been various musical iterations with her brother Richard, but success came when they settled on The Carpenters. Karen was a very accomplished drummer and played live during the early years of the band. It was the success of her vocal abilities that ultimately took away from the kit and to the front of the stage. Not to mention the fact her small stature made it hard for fans to see her behind the kit on stage. If you want to be reminded of her drumming prowess, just have a look on YouTube. An incredible talent taken too soon.

3. Taylor Hawkins

Most famous for being the man behind the kit for the Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins has recently gone to the front. I wonder where he got that idea from? He’s released solo efforts with his own band Coattail Riders, and more recently, The Birds of Satan. There’s no denying Hawkins’ love of Queen and Roger Taylor, and his solo albums reflect that. He has a rather good voice and is certainly a showman. That is obvious from his energy behind the kind. I guess the natural progression is to take that to the front. I’m sure Mr Grohl gave him plenty of advice about going solo.

2. Ringo Starr

Ok, so John Lennon once said that Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles, but that’s a bit unfair. Ringo was great at what he did, holding the beat and keeping that groove. Serving the song is one of the most important things a drummer can do. And Ringo did that perfectly. He’s also gone on to release an astounding sixteen solo albums. Yes, his vocal range is limited, but a discography that big is impressive. He also secured two back-to-back number one hits in the US. Go Ringo!

1. Levon Helm

Levon Helm was the drummer in the critically acclaimed American roots rock band The Band. They backed Bob Dylan in the 60s but went on to have success under their own name. An innovative and creative drummer, Levon also had a deeply soulful and country-tinged voice. He used that voice to good use with six solo albums through the ’70s, ’80s and 2000s. He won not one, but two Grammy awards for his albums and was also a film actor. Sadly, he died in 2012, but what a musical legacy he leaves behind.


That’s our list of nine drummers who became lead singers, did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.


Read about seven underrated rock albums that defined the 2000’s HERE.

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9 Iconic Jerry Goldsmith Film Scores

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The Objective Standard

Jerry Goldsmith may be a name that is not known to you, but some of the music scores he’s created will be etched into your psyche.

The late composer created some of the most iconic film scores from the past forty years. Here are nine of the best.

1. Planet of The Apes (1968)

The first film in the Planet of the Apes franchise was a trailblazer for many reasons. Not only was the story innovative and philosophical, but it also received praise for its special effects. Another thing that made the film so special, was the musical score. Goldsmith had been writing scores for a while, but this was the one that truly put him on the map. He moved away from traditional melodies and experimented with horns, bowls, and strings. The result was a brooding avant-garde tsunami that hits you, wave after wave. Genius.

2. The Omen (1976)

This horror classic has one of the creepiest soundtracks of all time. The subject matter of the child anti-Christ obviously helps. The score for the film was the benchmark for horror that influenced a slew of films in its wake. Goldsmith employed some frankly terrifying Gregorian chants to make the horror more effective. He also combined the chants with some spine-tingling strings and piano. It all works and makes the hairs on your neck stand up when you hear it. This is one of Goldsmith’s most terrifying, yet brilliant works. He even won an Oscar for it.

3. Poltergeist (1982)

Ignore the terrible remake from a few years ago, the original Poltergeist movie was brilliant. What helped make it brilliant is the score that Goldsmith implemented. It’s a far cry from the creepy atmosphere of The Omen, but more of an unsettling lullaby. On first listen it seems like an uplifting piece of music, but after a while, you realise it’s the opposite. Goldsmith wanted to use the family dynamic as the focus of the music, exploring all the layers. The result is a surprising score that earned him an Oscar nomination, although he didn’t win that one.

4. Alien (1979)

Jerry Goldsmith’s score is almost as famous as Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic itself. It wasn’t all plain sailing though. His final score was cut to bits by Scott and the production team, although the full masterpiece is available now. What he achieves here is the coldness and terror of space, and what lies within it. It’s laden with atmosphere that takes you on a journey that touches all the emotions. There is a smorgasbord of instruments used within the score, but there is one that really stands out. The trumpet solos. They are used to great effect, and you can feel the Xenomorph creeping up behind you.

5. Gremlins (1984)

Arguably one of the greatest movies from the 1980s, Gremlins throws together a collection of genres. You’ve got comedy; horror; slapstick; gore and drama all in one. In keeping with that theme, Jerry Goldsmith created the film’s score to mirror that. In fact, it’s so gloriously over-the-top it wouldn’t be out of place in a funfair. The synth is beautifully erratic. It perfectly emulates the chaotic yet lovable rogue elements of the Gremlins themselves. It’s often thought that comedy scores should not be silly, but this preconception is thrown out of the water. Sit back and enjoy the madness.

6. Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

Whereas the first Rambo film had a slight intelligent edge to the violence, Rambo II is an unashamedly hammy shoot-‘em-up. Keeping in theme with the film, Goldsmith manages to keep the score suitably exciting. Using his use of electronics to embellish the strings and horns, it makes for a big, brash, and thoroughly enjoyable listen. He manages to capture the exact feel of the film in his music. That’s no mean feat, and he does it to perfection.

7. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

The first of the Star Trek movies kickstarted a film franchise that’s still going to this day. The music of Trek is in my humble opinion, as important as the moral and optimistic themes of the stories. This is purely down to the genius of Jerry Goldsmith. Although visually superb, the film is a bit of a damp squib. The soundtrack, however, is not. It defines what Star Trek is about. The music takes you on a journey through space and exploration. There are mostly brass instruments that make up the score, and it builds to a crescendo that propels straight to the captain’s chair. The score was that good that it was used as the theme to TNG. This is some of Goldsmith’s finest work that defines Star Trek.

8. Basic Instinct (1992)

This Paul Verhoeven naughty thriller is iconic for many reasons. One of them perhaps more famous than others (ahem). Crossed legs aside, the movie itself is probably more famous for that scene than anything else. The musical score though is rather special. Goldsmith himself admitted this was one of his toughest ones to write. He pulled it off though. The music manages to capture Sharon Stone’s character perfectly. The charming beauty with a malevolent underbelly is clear to hear. He handles the contradictions with absolute aplomb and delivers a simply superb musical score.

9. The Mummy (1999)

This action romp may have had some questionable special effects, but the film score was some of Jerry Goldsmith’s finest work. Created towards the end of his career, it’s the last of the great film scores. It has everything from thunderous action and creepy horror. There are even some feel-good romantic elements. It takes you on a roller coaster of emotions but leaves you feeling fully enthralled. Even into his seventies, Jerry Goldsmith created some of his best work. A true icon and legend of film composition.


That’s our list of nine iconic Jerry Goldsmith film scores, did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out nine movie soundtracks better than the films HERE.

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