Drummers With Some Of The 
Best Solos Of The 80s

Being artistic is not something you strive to become. It’s something you’re born with, a natural instinct. When a drummer is given the spotlight at a concert, the performance is a dynamic measure of their innate individual creativity that has nothing to do with the band’s rehearsed show. It’s not something that you can truly script but instead comes from within.

The music from the 80s is an epitome of the music medium. Those who were fortunate enough to live within that era reminisce at what a fantastic point in time it was—one for which there can be no duplication. But mimicking the sounds of that period using many 80's drum samples that are popping up proves there is a strong desire to try.

The genre diversity was great from classic rock to jazz, with straight, bold rockers on to the extreme of metal drummers, taking the instrument to levels that never deemed possible. The love for hard, heavy metal overtook the industry and brought the world together—thus starting a revolution unlike any that came before. The 80s would make its mark on history with later attempts to resurrect.

Famous Drummers In The 80s

Drummers blowing the doors off their instruments electrified the audiences in the 80s with their pulse-pounding performances. Some were flawless in their efforts displaying complete control without overplaying or distracting from the rest of the band, merely moving the direction forward.

** Lars Ulrich / Metallica

Aside from being one of the founding members of Metallica, along with the primary songwriter, Lars Ulrich played the drums. He attended a rock concert with his father in 1973, where he had exposure to hard rock and heavy metal for the first time, after which his life’s focus became music, specifically drums.

His signature drum moves include double-bass pedal and synchronizing with the rhythm of the lead guitar, which became Metallica’s signature sound. He boasts of making some of the best songs in the history of music using a simplified playing style that millions around the world love and inspiring massive numbers of kids to begin playing the drums. His abilities are somewhat controversial, but that doesn’t bother him as long as the public is enjoying what he’s doing.

** Tommy Lee / Motley Crue

Tommy Lee boasts as playing with intense voraciousness, with not many being able to give off the same charisma as he musters with his performances. His famous showmanship and ear for the rhythms helped in giving Motley Crue the unique sound it came to know. Click for a list of some other top-rated drummers at the time.

** Neil Peart / Rush

Neil Peart had an incredible 40-year run with the progressive rock legendary band Rush, where he took music to its extreme. His philosophical, mythological, fantastical lyrics were matched only by the intricacies of his complicated time signature and magnificent flourishes. His use of the oversized drums was the inspiration for many wannabes to lay down countless dollars for equipment of similar caliber. He was well known for his extravagant concert solos of sometimes more than eight minutes in duration, where his set touts as rotating in mid-beat. He is remembered as among the top drummers of his time.

** Phil Collins / Genesis

To begin to understand the skill level of Phil Collins, listen to ‘The Musical Box,’ which is technically from 1971. That displays his ability, but then when you come forward into 1980, his talent becomes more pronounced. He has a distinct sound consisting of adding ‘ reverb’ to the drums as well as ‘gating’ which was to cut short the echo with the snare. The sound would be known as ‘gated drum reverb.’ His music evoked from his love of Motown soul and tribal beats, which translated into sleek, melodrama for many of his pieces. Go to: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/503751/how-phil-collins-accidentally-created-sound-defined-1980s-music to see how the age created a transformation.

** Alex Van Halen / Van Halen

Alex boasts as having a drum rock intro among the most exceptional of all time. The drummer touts as being a ‘Virtuoso’ who offers technicality along with sheer enthusiasm for play. The word is that he can use his equipment, the sticks, and his body in ways that no one else has ever been able to do. He touts as the perfect complement to the flamboyance of the lead singer and that of the lead guitarist. The speed metal tempos, snare patterns, and ingenious kick drum arrangements contribute to the celebrity that is Van Halen from the early days.

** Roger Taylor / Queen

Aside from being a powerful drummer, Roger Taylor had aspirations to indulge in songwriting and lead vocals with the band, which came to fruition for him a few times. He was a prominent harmony vocalist on all the music, but his skills on the kit more than supported a frontman as commanding as that of the band’s spectacular lead singer.


Many iconic memories stand out from the 80s, but one that no one will forget is the music. Some were not a fan of the sounds coming out though, for the most part, it was beloved. There were a host of new music styles having their introduction in this era alongside the launch of MTV that brought the rise of the music video culture. Among the inspiration for drummers worldwide spanning multiple generations is Phil Collins gated drum reverb discovered in 1981.

The word is that the artist stumbled onto this sound ‘accidentally.’ You can reproduce it by recording the drums while playing in a room with an extremely ‘live sound’ for max reverberation with a noise gate applied that cuts off the natural reverb abruptly. When the stick strikes the kit, the sound that generates is like that of a cannon blasting. The technique became a big deal for drummers in the 80s and made an enormous impact on the style of that period. It is synonymous with the sounds of that era.

People have an interest in recapturing the 80s. The time period wouldn’t be what it was without its drummers and, more specifically, Phil Collins. Unfortunately, we can’t go back and enjoy the 80s again, but we can try to recreate some of its effects.

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