When you’re learning to play drums, it’s helpful to have some solid musical influences to keep you inspired to work hard. While there are lots of famous drummers out there, we thought we’d take a look at some of the ladies who are often considered to be among the best female drummers of all time, and who continue to inspire young musicians today.
1. Maureen “Moe” Tucker
Maureen gained fame and notoriety as the drummer of the seminal ’70s experimental avant-garde band The Velvet Underground. Back in the day, she was often described as “that chick drummer who played standing up.”
Her minimalist kit (snare, bass, toms and a mallet), unique approach to drumming, and “keep it simple” philosophy, made her the ultimate role model for all future power drummers.
Moe began playing drums at the age of 19 in 1963. With no formal instruction, she taught herself by playing along with popular songs on a second-hand drum kit.
2. Sandy West
Sandy was the drummer for the first all-girl hard rock band The Runaways. She formed the band with guitarist and lead singer Joan Jett in 1975. Her drumming was powerful, intense, and inspired many musicians who came after her.
In an interview after Sandy’s untimely death, Joan Jett said, “Sandy was an exuberant and powerful drummer. So underrated, she was the caliber of John Bonham.”
Here’s a video of The Runaways song “Cherry Bomb.” You can hear for yourself what made Sandy so special and why she’s one of the most famous female drummers, and still a major influence for both male and female drummers today.
3. Sheila Escovedo
Better known as “Sheila E,” she is best known for her work with Prince and The Revolution. Her talent and influence span multiple genres including pop, funk, latin jazz, jazz fusion, and rock.
Sheila made her debut drumming with the jazz bassist Alphonso Johnson in 1976 at the ripe old age of 19! By the time she was in her early 20’s, she had performed and recorded with numerous musical luminaries including George Duke, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, Lionel Richie, and Diana Ross.
Still active today, Sheila continues to influence young drummers across all genres. In 2012, Sheila played alongside Pharell Williams and Hans Zimmer at the 2012 Academy Awards.
4. Terri Lyne Carrington
Grammy Award-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington has had a stellar career in the world of jazz. She has performed with jazz legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, Lester Bowie, Pharoah Sanders, and many others.
Terri Lyne started playing drums when she was seven years old, when her grandfather gave her a drum set. She progressed quickly, and as a teen, she traveled across the country performing and doing clinics at various high schools and colleges.
In 1983, after graduating from the prestigious Berklee College of Music, she moved to New York and began her career. In the late 1980s, she became the house drummer for “The Arsenio Hall Show.”
Terri Lyne continues to inspire and influence young musicians, she has been teaching at the Berklee College of Music since 2007.
These four women are among the best female drummers in the history of music. They have made a mark on the music world and continue to influence young musicians today.
No matter your aspirations, listen to these women play; you’ll definitely be inspired to continue your own musical journey!
Photo by Elian Chrebor