Why no Motown drummers on Drummerworld?

cdrums21

Gold Member
I see no mention of any of the Motown great "Funk brothers" drummers here on Drummerworld. Benny Benjamin, Uriel Jones and Richard "Pistol" Allen. They were responsible for some of the greatest music from the 60's and 70's that came out of Detroit, USA, and arguably are just as notable as Hal Blaine and other top recording musicians. I know you can't include every drummer, but those guys are part of American music history. What gives?
 

opentune

Platinum Member
They don't have their own pages, however, their names are mentioned in many threads.
A bigger travesty is their names also do not appear listed on credits of Motown records. I would love to know which of these guys is playing on which record, at least for pre-1969, Benjamin's death.
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
I've read that due to Benjamin's issues with alcohol and drug abuse, he played less and less on the records. Like you mentioned it would be cool to know who played what on the hits.
 

hawksmoor

Senior Member
Love all the Motown drummers mentioned. A huge influence on my playing, along with Jabo Starks, Clyde Stubblefield, Al Jackson Jr and Howard Grimes.
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
No mistaking James Jamerson though. Man, what a bassist. Some of the coolest bass lines ever. "Reflections" and "Keep me hangin' on" by the Supremes, are two that are just too cool.
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
They don't have their own pages, however, their names are mentioned in many threads.
A bigger travesty is their names also do not appear listed on credits of Motown records. I would love to know which of these guys is playing on which record, at least for pre-1969, Benjamin's death.
Wikipedia states that Benjamin was the primary drummer at Motown early on, so I would assume it's him on a lot of the earlier stuff.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Hmm maybe we need a FAQ like Wikipedia to explain he DW list. Or we can make a video with Terry Bozzio telling everyone why he didn't want to be on DW list because it's like Good fellas-it's nothing personal "Pay me!!!" LOL. The DW list is a labor of love of one person preferences and his getting permission to list them. It’s in no way comprehensive nor that the goal
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I see no greater honor than being an unnamed drummer. The opportunity to work on projects while maintaining anonymity is a treasure. Your drumming, not your image, becomes the only thing that draws attention, and you can appear in public without being bombarded. Of course, I'm writing from the standpoint of someone who values privacy first and foremost. Center-of-attention types would disagree.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Wikipedia states that Benjamin was the primary drummer at Motown early on, so I would assume it's him on a lot of the earlier stuff.
A good assumption for the very early stuff, but by mid 60's they used 2 drummers on many recordings (e.g. Ain't no Mountain high Enough tough to play on your own). There is even a brief period where all 3 are active.
 
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opentune

Platinum Member
The opportunity to work on projects while maintaining anonymity is a treasure. Your drumming, not your image, becomes the only thing that draws attention, and you can appear in public without being bombarded. Of course, I'm writing from the standpoint of someone who values privacy first and foremost. Center-of-attention types would disagree.
I get your point, but if every drummer remained anonymous, that would remove half the content of this site, lol. If gear remained unlabelled or branded, that would remove another third of the content.
I think artists should get credit for their efforts. If you choose to remain anonymous is another matter. Motown musicians never made that choice, Barry Gordy did, one of the points of the Funk Brothers film.
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
A good assumption for the very early stuff, but by mid 60's they used 2 drummers on many recordings (e.g. Ain't no Mountain high Enough tough to play on your own). There is even a brief period where all 3 are active.
Guess we'll never really know for sure. "Heat wave" was recorded in 1963, so I was thinking Benny Benjamin, but there is footage of the surviving funk brothers playing that with Joan Osborne and the drummer, who I believe is Richard "pistol" Allen, just kills it. Wikipedia credits Allen with heat wave, and some other hits, but they credit Uriel Jones and Benjamin with some of the same stuff? Anyway, great tracks from some great drummers. Love those tunes.
 
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C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I get your point, but if every drummer remained anonymous, that would remove half the content of this site, lol. If gear remained unlabelled or branded, that would remove another third of the content.
I think artists should get credit for their efforts. If you choose to remain anonymous is another matter. Motown musicians never made that choice, Barry Gordy did, one of the points of the Funk Brothers film.
Sure, I'm not arguing that every drummer's efforts should be enshrouded in mystery or that those who remain anonymous are more dignified in some way. There are worse things, though, than not having your name appear in print. One is getting no work at all. A lot of studio drummers make substantial contributions, though their names in some cases will be forever unknown, at least in popular circles. The music matters more than the names behind it, though I realize that the absence of "credit" can sometimes lead to missed endorsement opportunities and so on.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
I get your point, but if every drummer remained anonymous, that would remove half the content of this site, lol. If gear remained unlabelled or branded, that would remove another third of the content.
Certainly you are not suggesting that only the music is important? 😁
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Here's a fun article:


Between Benny, Uriel, Pistol, and Hal...I'm so glad I was imprinted with those guys. Especially the Motown stuff. That high tom tone...That shuffle on "Heatwave" just jumped right out.

I remember listening to Motown songs on AM radio while barely being grown enough to see out the window of early 60's cars.

Coming from the oval dash speaker lol. The one that got baked by the sun lol
 
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cdrums21

Gold Member
Here's a fun article:


Between Benny, Uriel, Pistol, and Hal...I'm so glad I was imprinted with those guys. Especially the Motown stuff. That high tom tone...That shuffle on "Heatwave" just jumped right out.

I remember listening to Motown songs on AM radio while barely being grown enough to see out the window of early 60's cars.

Coming from the oval dash speaker lol. The one that got baked by the sun lol
Me too man. Very special time in American music. Loved all of that stuff.
 

Ransan

Senior Member
Yes Motown has some of the crudest, crispy and tightest beats ever imagined. I shamefully don’t know enough about the musicians from this genre as they were hound dogs at the studio as I would imagine.
There is a certain fill that I always refer to it as the “Motown fill”.
It starts off either on a snare or a high tom, but then rattles a snare roll of some sort, some are single strokes.

The best examples I can give are the intros to “This old Heart of Mine“ by The Isleys and “Its the Same Old Song” by The Four Tops.

Nonetheless, it is distinguishing and to me an overlooked aspect of the Motown beat.
 

Ransan

Senior Member
Between Benny, Uriel, Pistol, and Hal...I'm so glad I was imprinted with those guys. Especially the Motown stuff. That high tom tone...
Yes that High tom tone is what I’m referring to, it is so striking yet pausing, you knew a fill explosion was to ensue.
 
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