Who was the first metal drummer?

Posted: October 11, 2011 01:58 PM

Andy Doerschuk

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Even though I wouldn’t call The Who a metal band, I think Keith Moon was the first metal drummer because of his wild, hard-hitting style.

What do you think?


Andy Doerschuk
Editorial director, drummagazine.com

Posted: October 12, 2011 12:46 AM


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Hi all! OK Andy. I can see why you hold that opinion. I agree that The Who is NOT a ‘metal’ band, but yes, his style was what a metal drummer would employ! Let me also say that you pose 1 heck of a question! Talk about a topic that makes you think!
Well, I’m going to throw out a name, but I know that I’ll get a lot of controversey from it! In 1977, Judas Priest released their 1st album, ” Sin After Sin”. The drummer? Simon Phillips! He didn’t do the subsequent tour, but recorded the entire record. I even wrote to Simon about this session in another drumming publication back in 2004 & he responded w/ his setup used & the general ‘jist’ of the session! Because Judas Priest is such a staple in metal, & the album came out in the early days of metal, I consider Simon to be, mabye not THE 1st, but certainly a top pioneer of metal.
Along w/ Moonie, I think that Bonzo was a ‘metal’ drummer because of his particular style, sound, & technique! Although Zeppelin was not a metal band, they were hard rock for sure!
In my opinion, Lars Ulrich is the 1st real ‘heavy metal’ drummer! Metallica set the bar & set it high. But Simon Phillips certainly is one of, if not the 1st drummer to go on record w/ a true metal band in ‘77!

Posted: October 13, 2011 02:48 AM


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no question about Simon being a great drummer. But Sin After Sin was JP’s 3rd album, and Simon was their 3rd drummer. By that time, Led Zep had already released the majority of their catalog, and Bonham could easily be called one of the first metal drummers, even though Zep’s music transcends that genre. Deep Purple wouldn’t be called a metal band today, back in the day they often were. So Ian Paice would deserve the title way before Simon Phillips. And Black Sabbath’s Bill Ward…..

Posted: October 13, 2011 07:36 AM


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I agree on Bill Ward. The term came from Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” (“heavy metal thunder”) But Sabbath was the first band I heard people call heavy metal.  There were a bunch of mostly-English bands around that time, including Uriah Heep, who were considered very heavy but were sort of a early metal-fusion band. Their first drummer was Alex Napier, and then Nigel Olsson.
Metal evolved so much from its starting point though that it’s like fruit flies in a lab with new genetic variations every week.

Posted: October 13, 2011 12:52 PM


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when I think of the earliest metal I think of heavy rock and roll which immediately pops Zepplin into my noggin. Bonzo was definitely the innovator of the hard and heavy style of playing. The Who doesn’t particularly strike me as a “heavy” band despite Keith Moon’s unique style for the time.


Hit Hard, Play Fast, Have Fun

Posted: December 26, 2011 10:05 PM


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Keith Moon, YES! And I can’t find out if he inluenced Paul Whaley, or vice-versa. WAIT, Who the hell is Paul Whaley??? Oh, he was the drummer for the band, Blue Cheer, whos version of “Summertime Blues”, is the one that sticks in my head.