When it comes to creating a powerful and rhythmically diverse sound, some bands opt for not one, but two drummers.
This unique setup allows for a dynamic interplay between the percussive elements, resulting in a rich and layered musical experience.
In this blog post, we will explore 15 bands that have embraced the concept of double drummers and left an indelible mark on the world of music.
From iconic rock bands to experimental ensembles, these groups have pushed the boundaries of what is possible with two drummers performing percussive duties. Read on to discover the mesmerizing world of double drummers in music!
James Brown’s JBs
The James Brown’s JBs band was renowned for its remarkable involvement of two drummers. The two-drummer setup invigorated the rhythm section of the band and enhanced their high-energy performances.
Clyde Stubblefield and John “Jabo” Starks were frequently on the drums simultaneously, creating a dynamic sound that became a signature element of James Brown’s music.
Stubblefield and Starks brought their own unique approaches to drumming, adding depth and complexity to the band’s sound. Their collaboration created a very interesting interplay of rhythms and textures.
The combination of Stubblefield and Starks’ skills, synchronization, and musical chemistry contributed significantly to the iconic sound of James Brown’s music.
Genesis initially had Phil Collins as their primary drummer, known for his dynamic and versatile playing style. However, in the mid-1970s, Genesis introduced a second drummer, Chester Thompson, to their lineup.
Phil Collins and Chester Thompson worked together to create a powerful and tight rhythm section. They often played different parts simultaneously, creating a layered and textured sound.
This dual-drummer approach enabled Genesis to explore diverse musical styles, incorporating elements from progressive rock, pop, and jazz fusion.
The use of two drummers also gave Genesis the freedom to experiment with intricate time signatures and unconventional rhythms.
However, the specific lineup and use of two drummers varied throughout Genesis’ history. In later years, the band continued to evolve and adapt their lineup, sometimes featuring only one drummer.
Slipknot, the renowned American heavy metal band, features multiple drummers. The band has always utilized one main drummer throughout most of their career, with additional percussionists.
Bursting onto the music scene in 1999, the band fuses the intensity of their sounds with an unforgettable stage presence that includes tribal-like drummer performances.
Their sets involve a drummer (Jay Weinberg) and a percussionist (Shawn “Clown” Crahan) simultaneously hammering out powerful rhythms to complement thick guitar textures and guttural vocals.
The collaborative drumming approach by Shawn Crahan and Jay Weinberg (and previously Joey Jordison) has not only made them stand out among other rock bands but also carved their niche in live performances across the globe.
Osees, formerly known as Thee Oh Sees, is an experimental rock band emerging from San Francisco. Their experimental style combines elements of garage rock, punk rock, psychedelic rock and more.
Double drumming forms an integral part of Osees’ sound. In 2018 Dan Rincon was joined by Paul Quattrone to share percussion duties on stage for the band’s shows and recording sessions.
The two drummers in Osees work together, complementing each other’s playing styles and creating a dynamic interplay between their drumming patterns.
This collaboration results in a dense and driving sound that contributes to the band’s distinctive psych-punk aesthetic.
The Doobie Brothers
The Doobie Brothers redefined the rock music genre with their unique blend of rhythm and energy. This beloved band saw a remarkable level of success in the 1970s, boasting top hits such as “Listen to the Music” and “China Grove”.
The band popularized double drumming by incorporating two drummers into their lineup in 1971. The pairings were usually John Hartman and Michael Hossack, or John Hartman and Keith Knudsen.
This unique setup of two drummers allowed the band to create a thicker and more dynamic sound in their music.
Over the years, The Doobie Brothers have gone through different lineup changes, but the use of two drummers has remained a significant element of their music.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is an Australian rock band known for their energetic and experimental music. The band previously featured two drummers, adding a unique rhythmic dynamic to their sound.
Michael Cavanagh and Eric Moore were the two drummers who played together in King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Their dual drumming setup allowed for a more complex and layered rhythmic foundation, creating a dense and driving sound that became a trademark of the band.
Unfortunately Eric Moore (the band’s second drummer and manager) left in August 2020, so right now the band only has one drummer.
Nonetheless, you can still see many live performances where the band features two drummers!
The Allman Brothers Band
The Allman Brothers Band is a famous rock music ensemble that gained popularity in the 1970s. Known for their energetic live performances, they were pioneers in the Southern rock genre.
One unique feature of the band was their use of two drummers, Jaimoe Johanson and Butch Trucks, who created a powerful rhythm section that set them apart from other bands of their time.
With Jaimoe on drums and Butch Trucks on percussion, The Allman Brothers Band achieved a distinctive sound characterized by tight synchronicity between the two drummers.
Their album “At Fillmore East” is considered one of the best live albums in rock history and exemplifies their prowess as a live act with dual drummers at its core.
Overall, The Allman Brothers Band demonstrated how double drumming could bring an extra layer of intensity to rock music, making them an influential force in shaping modern rock bands with multiple drummers.
Sadly Butch Trucks sadly passed away on January 24, 2017. Despite this loss, the influence and impact of The Allman Brothers Band’s two-drummer setup continue to resonate in the world of rock music.
Santana, the American Latin rock band formed in 1966, has incorporated two drummers into their lineup at times during their history. One notable example is the inclusion of Karl Perazzo and Cindy Blackman Santana as the two drummers.
Karl Perazzo joined Santana in the late 1980s and has a background as a percussionist and drummer with artists such as Pete Escovedo, Sheila E, and Prince. He brought his rhythmic expertise and Latin percussion elements to the band’s sound during his tenure.
Cindy Blackman Santana, known for her versatile drumming style, joined Santana in more recent years. She is recognized for her impressive skills and has made significant contributions to the band’s live performances and recordings.
The collaboration between Perazzo and Blackman Santana allows for a dynamic and powerful rhythm section. Their combined talents bring a diverse range of styles and influences to Santana’s music, including Latin, rock, jazz, and fusion.
Tortoise is a band with two drummers, Herndon and Bitney, who work together to create an interlocking rhythmic foundation for the band’s unique mix of post-rock, jazz, electronica, and experimental elements.
The band initially featured John Herndon as their primary drummer, known for his dynamic and versatile playing style. In later years, they added Dan Bitney as a second drummer, further expanding the rhythmic possibilities within their music.
Their album “TNT” showcases their skillful use of polyrhythms and percussion techniques. And songs like “Gigantes” and “Seneca” showcase the band’s ability to build tension through layered instrumentation and complex time signatures.
By utilizing multiple drummers, Tortoise creates a solid foundation for their music while allowing space for experimentation and sonic exploration.
The dual-drummer setup in Tortoise allows for complex polyrhythms and syncopated patterns.
Earth, Wind & Fire
Earth, Wind & Fire, the legendary funk and soul band, incorporated two drummers into their lineup at certain points in their career.
During the 1970s, Earth, Wind & Fire featured two drummers on stage: Fred White and Ralph Johnson. This dual-drummer setup played a crucial role in the band’s big sound, contributing to their infectious grooves and rhythmic complexity.
Earth, Wind & Fire’s live performances are legendary, with their multiple percussionists adding layers of complexity to their already catchy tunes.
White and Johnson worked together to provide a tight and dynamic foundation for the band’s music. Unfortunately, Fred White passed away at the age of 67. His contributions to the band will forever be remembered as a key part of their legacy.
King Crimson, the pioneering progressive rock band, has experimented with the use of multiple drummers throughout their history. Initially, they explored the format of having a drummer and percussionist, but later expanded to include two or three drummers on stage simultaneously.
King Crimson’s use of multiple drummers allowed them to delve into unusual rhythmic territories and push the boundaries of their music. The drummers work together to create a synchronized rhythmic foundation, enhancing the band’s sound with powerful percussive layers.
The band’s founder, Robert Fripp, has embraced this concept, continually evolving the lineup and experimenting with different configurations over the years. The specific drummers involved have included Bill Rieflin, Jeremy Stacy, Gavin Harrison, and others.
Mushroomhead, the metal band known for their theatrical performances, incorporates two drummers into their lineup to create a powerful and intense rhythm section.
I actually toured with Mushroomhead back in 2019 as a support act, and it was amazing to see the band use their two drummers live. It adds a real dynamic element to their live shows!
They features both a main drummer and another drummer specifically playing acrylic water drums. The water drums are distinctive and contribute to the band’s visual and sonic aesthetic.
In live performances, Mushroomhead’s dual percussionists command attention with their synchronized beats and high-energy playing.
With a devoted fan base and a reputation for putting on unforgettable live performances, Mushroomhead continues to make waves in the world of rock music.
White Rabbits is a sextet indie band featuring two drummers and also a piano player in their lineup. With two drummers driving the rhythm, their music carries a powerful and infectious energy.
Known for their intricate drumming techniques and collaborative approach, White Rabbits create a dynamic blend of rock, pop, and experimental sounds.
Their album “It’s Frightening” showcases their talent for creating catchy melodies paired with complex percussion arrangements.
The Grateful Dead, the iconic rock band known for their improvisational style and extensive live performances, employed two drummers in their lineup.
With two drummers, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, the band created a rich rhythmic foundation that allowed for extended jams and dynamic performances.
Their album “Live/Dead” recorded at the Fillmore East showcased their prowess as live performers, capturing the energy and spirit of their shows. Grateful Dead’s double drumming technique was a key element in their sound.
The band’s live performances were often characterized by seamless transitions between songs, creating an immersive experience for their dedicated fan base known as “Deadheads”.
Kreutzmann and Hart often engaged in intricate drum duets or “Drums” segments during live performances. These segments allowed them to showcase their skills and explore different rhythmic patterns.
Hidden Orchestra is a unique Edinburgh-based musical ensemble that features two drummers, Tim Lane and Jamie Graham, in their lineup. The band blends elements of jazz, electronic music, and experimental sounds.
During live performances, Tim Lane and Jamie Graham are often positioned at the front of the stage, showcasing their drumming skills and engaging in captivating call-and-response interactions.
Each drummer brings their own style and technique, resulting in a rich tapestry of percussive textures.
Whether you’re a fan of jazz or electronic music, Hidden Orchestra is sure to leave you spellbound with their mesmerizing double-drummer arrangements.
The use of two drummers in music has become a rather rare but also fascinating and impactful trend in the industry. Throughout history, only a few bands have embraced this approach to percussion, resulting in unique and dynamic sounds.
The presence of two drummers adds an undeniable depth, complexity, and a captivating visual element to performances.
This creative use of dual drummers showcases the versatility and ingenuity within the realm of rhythm and demonstrates how it can shape and elevate a band’s musical identity.
As we continue to explore the possibilities of rhythm and percussion in music, it will be exciting to see how this trend evolves and resonates with audiences in the future.