The drummers who just go for it



Wondering which big names in the drumming community don't know any rudiments or how to read music?

I'll start, Chris Johnson - Stevie Wonder, Rihanna, Anastacia
Not knowing any rudiments is a stretch... Any drummer worth his salt knows how to do a flam or a paradiddle regardless of if they had formal teaching or not...Myself being one of them. Anyway, I'll wager a guess and say Mr. Ulrich.


Senior Member
Meg White and Travis Barker?
Travis Barker doesn't know any rudiments? That's laughable. I can't be sure he can read music but I would bet that he can.

Meg White though is a true story. However, I think the question is more around good drummers who just go out and play and are good at it but might not have any formal technique etc.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
According to our friends at wiki, Barker took trumpet and piano lessons so he must be able to read something.


Platinum Member
There'll be heaps. No doubt the majority of them will be rock/pop drummers who struck it lucky by being in the right band at the right time. That's not to diminish their achievements by any measure, but it does provide some context.

The journeymen, the guys who are actively sought out, the guys whose names get tossed around all the time as being at the top of their game, the guys who pop up anywhere and everywhere, the guys that are pretty universally admired. I reckon it's fair to say that the majority of them will be able to bring something to the table with respect to a sound grasp of rudiments and reading skills.

Anon La Ply

It's a different time. I see videos of little kids playing today whose skills easily outdo many of my old drum heroes.

The skill bar has been raised and there's not so much happening now for self-taught plodders (Denis and Jojo don't plod :).

The "bar" for originality, on the other hand, has been lowered. It seems that now the only discouragement for ripping other artists off is legal.


Pioneer Member
Not knowing any rudiments is a stretch... Any drummer worth his salt knows how to do a flam or a paradiddle regardless of if they had formal teaching or not...Myself being one of them. Anyway, I'll wager a guess and say Mr. Ulrich.
What!? Lars knows how to do a flam, as heard in his 1,000 blickums per album.


Gold Member
A good deal of my favorite drummers couldn't read music, look at Sam Woodyard he had to watch the sax player's foot to know what the tempo was and where the stops were...

I think most drummers are going to know at least a few rudiments... I hope.

As far as reading, I'm not so sure. I would think that it would be almost impossible for drummers who can't read to find work, but then it depends on the music. When I was playing more classical percussion, the stereotype was that jazz players couldn't read real music, only lead sheets. When I moved to jazz, the stereotype was that rock players couldn't read at all. Obviously these are just stereotypes, but I've always wondered if it wasn't that the players couldn't read, but that the music didn't call for it. I play jazz, and there's rarely a time when I would want to see more than a lead sheet; the whole point of jazz is that it's up to interpretation by the players. In Rock, the drumming seems to be pattern based (and usually in 4), so you might not need any music at all. That doesn't mean that the players can't read, just that they don't read in order to perform...


Gold Member
God, this again? This place IS turning into a guitar forum. Everybody just hating on everybody else. Guess what, I cant read music and I only know a few basic rudiments and it has never stopped me from finding people that want to make music with me.

The reality is this. You will never know who can and cant, and it doesn't matter. We can sit here and conjecture all day, but unless you have actually sat down with the guy whose name you will throw out here, you have no idea.

Travis Barker got a whole generation of kids to start playing the drums. That means a hell of a lot more to me than his knowledge of flamacues.


Gold Member
It's great that so many players can "just go for it" but why celebrate illiteracy of any kind? Are you trying to prove it to yourself or to convince us that expanding your knowledge is a bad thing?

Can you imagine going through life not being able to read or write? How about use a fork to eat? There's people who still eat with their fingers...

There's nothing wrong with knowing how to read a little or understand a rudiment inside and out.

I was once of your mindset and it was reading and rudiments that expanded my knowledge to allow me the ability to play anything.


Platinum Member
I believe Gavin Harrison said in clinic that he never really sat down with a book of rudiments and practiced.
Couldn't agree more. The Lars thread which has been active in recent days is particularly shameful. That's a pile-on of epic proportions.
Not to hijack this thread but, I'm not dissing Lars. He's a big reason why I started playing 25 years ago. Just making speculation that he has had little formal training and doesn't read music or is a master of all 40 rudiments. The guy does have his place in drumming lore. That's not a diss at all.


Gold Member
Played guitar forever and that is guitar players shitting on other guitar players non stop.. drummers are usually cool to each other.. interesting to see this thread...