Ian Paice: And The Origin Of Progressive Metal

Ian Paice

Few bands have enjoyed the longevity of Deep Purple or survived the endless lineup and style changes that the group has weathered over the past three-plus decades. Such a healthy lifespan can be easily explained as a byproduct of the masterful musicianship and stylistic diversity found on pop tunes like “Hush,” “Hey Joe,” or “Kentucky Woman,” intermingled with their original metal and keyboard-driven progressive rock styles on “Burn” or classic metal anthems like “Smoke On The Water.” Founding drummer Ian Paice has been propelling the band from the beginning with his great technique, inventive parts, fast foot, and blistering single-stroke rolls. His influence on modern drumming can’t be overemphasized, as he arguably had a hand in the birth of both metal and progressive rock drumming. Not a bad pedigree. Flip the page to look at some of his flashier moments.

DRUM! Notation Guide

“Hush” from Shades Of Deep Purple

This cover was one of Deep Purple’s early hits. Propelled by Jon Lord’s funky Hammond organ work and Paice’s cool grooves and fills, the song’s great success now seems inevitable.

“It’s quite hard to remember that far back,” Paice admits. “Basically it’s a samba. Obviously I wasn’t trying to play the same way that a guy with congas and hand drums would do it. But I was keeping that pulse that the organ was doing in my mind in a way to complement the fairly straightforward rock-and-roll rhythm I played, so try to maintain the inherent swing of the samba while you’re playing. It finds its own feel.”

During this period, Paice’s drumming was a bit reminiscent of Mitch Mitchell’s jazzy rock drumming with Jimi Hendrix. Check out the great triplet fill that sets up the “na-na-na-na” vocal refrain. It’s okay to sing along.

ian paice

“Chasing Shadows” from Deep Purple

Here Ian Paice proves that he paid close attention to practicing rudiments at his drum lessons. By playing a double paradiddle — LRLRLL RLRLRR (remember Ian’s a lefty) — with his right hand moving between his high tom and mid tom and his left hand staying on the floor tom, Paice creates a clever tribal Afro-Cuban groove.

“You put all the paradiddles into a 4/4 tempo and they work very well,” Paice explains. “It was interesting flipping the hands between two drums to create the semi-jungle feel. It was one of the times when the drum pattern created the song. I was just having fun with it by myself on the kit, and the guys came in and found that the feel was something they really liked, and started creating the song around it.”

He plays quarter-notes on the downbeats and closes his hi-hat on 2 and 4. The percussion enters after four bars, making it a bit harder to decipher how he executes this cool groove.

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