Thread: Billy Cobham
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Old 03-03-2006, 03:55 AM
finnhiggins's Avatar
finnhiggins finnhiggins is offline
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Default Re: Your Thoughts On Billy Cobham?

That's just dumb. Billy is clearly one of the greats, he invented so much stuff on the drum kit that if you think he's not a clear, amazing innovator in the instrument you're probably just a kid who thinks Weckl and Cobham are from the same generation of drummers.

Billy pushed the boundaries of speed, power and technicality during the 70s in a way that few other drummers were even close to. The fact that he occasionally hits his sticks together or catches a rim? Doesn't mean a thing. It's a bit like having a go at Jimi Hendrix because his tapping wasn't on par with Steve Vai. Some guys invent vocabulary. Then comes the next generation of players who take that vocabulary and clean it up. Then comes the generation after that who extend that vocabulary again, often in an occasionally slightly sloppy manner compared to what comes next.

Compared to most drummers of his era, Cobham is a machine - his single stroke rolls are astonishingly clean in comparison to almost anybody playing in the rock or fusion genres. It's worth keeping in mind that although chops in jazz had got quite clean by the 60s with guys like Tony Williams the overwhelming trend was still towards a fair bit of looseness in both jazz and rock - guys like Jack DeJohnette, Elvin Jones and so forth in jazz, or Bill Bruford or Mitch Mitchell in rock. It was only really with the likes of Steve Gadd and John Bonham that the ultra-clean, studio-perfect approach started to develop, and neither of them had Billy's chops.

Edit: Ouch, I actually read that thread. Shouldn't have gone there. What a bunch of total idiots. I particularly liked the person posting a list of people like Thomas Lang and Marco Minneman as proof that Billy was not really that great. Yeah, right. Pick a bunch of people who were in nappies when Billy Cobham was changing drumming, that's the idea...
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