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RIP: Tom Ardolino Of NRBQ

The staff of DRUMmagaine.com is genuinely saddened to report the passing of one of the greatest drummers from one of the best American bands you’ve never heard of.

Tom Ardolino, drummer with NRBQ (New Rhythm & Blues Quartet), passed away from unknown causes on January 6. He was 56 years old, and had played with NRBQ since 1974, replacing original drummer Frank Gadler shortly after the band had been released from its contract with Columbia.

While the outfit released an impressive string of albums (all ambitious efforts that combined an eccentric array of styles – from blues to free jazz to British invasion pop), NRBQ always seemed content with its underground status, playing to diehard devotees in small bars around the globe.

Ardolino fit the band like a glove, a giant of a man looming over his meager 4-piece kit with a drum style that combined a hard-hitting punch with the late Richie Hayward’s penchant for greasy feels. He was known to employ unusual techniques, often riding with his right hand on the side of his snare drum shell, while playing backbeats with his left hand swung way over his head, flipping the stick at its highest apex while holding it inexplicably between his index and middle fingers (but not using traditional grip).

You can see what we mean by checking out the video below.

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