Ramblin' Men: Southern Rock Drumming

Following the peace and love of ’60s psychedelia, the sudden onset of hardscrabble southern rock bands like The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the ’70s tore through the music scene like a posse of bandits rarin’ for trouble. By combining blues and rock with the slightest hint of a country twang, these bands inadvertently devised a formula that — after some softening around the edges — eventually would morph into today’s crop of black-brimmed country stars. They also brought a level of power that predated the metal movement, and presented a perfect showcase for hotshot guitarists like Duane Allman, Billy Gibbons, and Lowell George to shred like never before. Of course, behind every one of those great pickers was an equally fervent drummer playing his heart out. It’s time to give these unsung heroes due respect, so here are a handful of classic drum parts that helped define the southern rock movement.

“Whipping Post”

Band: The Allman Brothers
Drummers: Butch Trucks and Jaimoe
The Allman Brothers were the first band to mix blues with southern rock influences while stretching tunes with jazz-like improvisations. Featuring Gregg and Duane Allman on keyboards and guitar, and the dual drum and percussion talents of Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, The Allman Brothers remain a hugely influential band. The classic Allman Brothers track “Whipping Post” starts in the very odd time signature of 11/8 phrased as 3-3-3-2. The groove is spelled out very literally with bass drum and snare combinations following that phrasing. The verse switches to 12/8 with a double-time ride cymbal pattern and a bass drum and snare pattern similar to a paradiddle, followed by a five-stroke roll. At the chorus, the time signature remains the same but the groove switches to a half-time feel because of the slower ride cymbal pattern and the strong crashes on 2 and 4 (assuming you count 12/8 1 & ah 2 & ah 3 & ah 4 & ah). Triplet fills at the end of certain bars add energy as the band leads into the break.

The Allman Brothers
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