UPDATE: 8/16: Here’s an article on Rolling Stone’s website in which Collins says a reunion with Genesis is possible with his son on drums. (Read Here)
Revered as one of the most influential drummers of all time, Phil Collins’ life as a drummer came to a sudden halt and threatened to end his career. In September of 2009, it was reported that Collins could no longer play the drums, due to a recent operation to repair a dislocated vertebrae in his neck.
A statement from Collins said, “I’ll never play the way I used to. Something happened on the Genesis reunion tour. At the end of each show, I had a drumming duel with Chester Thompson, and one night something happened. It just went. I tried everything – bigger drumsticks and so on, but it just never came back. It’s a mystery what happened, I just couldn’t get it back. But I’m 65 and I played drums since I was five. I’d like to have the choice about being able to play, but I’m not going to cry myself to sleep about it.”
On the Genesis website he wrote, “After a successful operation on my neck, my hands still can’t function normally. Maybe in a year or so it will change, but for now it is impossible for me to play drums or piano. I am not in any distressed state; stuff happens in life.” In 2010 Collins alluded to feelings of depression and low self-esteem in recent years, stating in an interview that he had contemplated suicide, but he resisted for the sake of his children.
In October of 2014, Collins told John Wilson on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row that he still could not play the drums as he was suffering from an undiagnosed nerve problem that left him unable to grip the sticks. He confirmed in a 2016 interview that he was still unable to drum with the left hand; however, he has also said that after a major back surgery, his doctor advised him that if he wanted to play the drums again, all he needed to do was practice as long as he took it step by step.
By 2016, Collins had made incredible strides with rehabilitation and he anxiously returned to the road. The majority of his drumming assignments were handled by his son, but Collins was able to play the encore “In the Air Tonight” which featured one of the most recognized drum fills in music history. He continued his “Not Dead Yet Tour” in 2017-2018 gaining strength and becoming more comfortable behind the kit. Perhaps he will play more drums in the future. For now he is satisfied performing music for his fans.
Time for a quick lesson… “Pea Soup” is a term used by some drummers to describe the sound that results from playing the hi-hat with lots of attitude in order to add “flavor” to the beat. The playing style affectionately described as “pea soup” can be achieved in a variety of ways. Some drummers get this result by playing an open hi-hat sound, followed by a quick closed hi-hat sound. They may also strike the hi-hat cymbal with lots of attitude and focus on accenting the open sound to make the hi-hat “bark.” This can create different “colors” which means that a drummer can get a variety of different sounds out of the same drum or cymbal by simply striking it differently.
You can use the pea soup approach to create two different colors by playing the open sound with the shank (or side) of the drumstick and the closed sound with the tip (or end) of the drumstick. You could also play the open sound on the edge of the hi-hat or strike the cymbal closer to the bell (or middle) of the hi-hat to achieve different sounds.
While the concept of pea soup is simple, the level of difficulty can increase depending on how much flavor you want to add your beats. The most important thing to remember is not to overdo it. A drummer must always maintain good time and meter. Too much extra flavor can interfere with the beat. Just like cooking a favorite recipe, you must use the right amount of ingredients. Practice with a metronome and find the right balance. I’m working on finding just the right amount of attitude. (Click image for full-size)
Nazi propaganda was incredibly strong for imparting ideology in people’s minds through the thought-provoking images and symbols they used. The Hitler Youth were instrumental in this effort. The role of the drummer boy became a position of honor and they often participated in rallies held to invigorate the German people. We can speculate on their innocence as being indoctrinated by a higher power but that must be presumed on an individual basis. Regardless of their intentions, their contributions strictly as drummers are noteworthy. Appearing in large numbers, the Nazi drummer’s pulse echoed throughout the venues they played in. In addition to their performances as musicians, their coordinated movements were striking. It is unfortunate that their drumming was in support of such an evil theology.
Wow! I can’t believe we’ve reached 400 posts. When I started this blog back in March of 2015 I thought I’d post something of interest every couple weeks or so. I ended up writing 14 posts in the first month. Since then I’ve posted exclusive interviews, technique and exercises, equipment reviews, historical studies, music notation, endorsement videos and more. The blog averages thousands of hits a week and is read in over 30 countries. The stats continue to amaze me and I am humbled to say the least. My book is now in its fourth printing and I believe the blog has helped to promote and continue its success. I’m surprised I have not lost interest in maintaining Off Beat as this is my fourth blog. This time around I’d really like to hear more from you. Feel free to send me an email or drop a comment and let me know what you think. Share your ideas or criticisms and let’s work together to make this blog even better. I have some really great posts lined up for the coming months and I look forward to posting a hundred more. Until then…
Monthly Archives for 2015
Monthly Archives for 2016
Monthly Archives for 2017
Monthly Archives for 2018
We would love it if you would consider writing a review of the book over on our Amazon page. We really value your opinions. Got to: FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids. Thank you in advance.
It’s not an easy gig playing behind the “King of Rock and Roll” but two drummers rose to the challenge. In Elvis’ early years it was DJ Fontana (above) and in his later years it was Ronnie Tutt (below). Both drummers were the perfect complement to Presley’s sound at the time and his music was dependent on their unique groove. Fontana was Elvis’ drummer for the first 14 years of his career and appeared on over 400 recordings. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame on January 14, 2009, and on April 4, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in the “sidemen category”. Tutt was the backbone of the famous TCB Band (Taking Care of Business) and participated in Elvis’ concerts and recording sessions until the death of Presley in 1977. Tutt went on to become the drummer for Neil Diamond. Both drummers can be heard on dozens of the most popular songs in the history of traditional rock-n-roll.
Not surprisingly, both drummers focused on the singer’s signature movements. Fontana spoke in an interview on how difficult it was to perform behind the singer that drove all the girls crazy. “He always worked us tight. Everybody was right up against each other. It was hard to hear a lot of times. But I know one time we went to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. There was about 45,000 people. And back in those days, that’s a lot of people. And we really couldn’t hear him do a thing. And he took his microphone and went way out to the gate of the fence. And we were like in the middle of the arena on the 50-yard line. So we was probably 75, a hundred foot from the fence and we couldn’t hear a thing – and he couldn’t, I’m sure. We only had three little pieces. But we knew by his movements, his hands, his feet, legs. We knew exactly where he was. So we had to watch him awfully close to find out where he was all the time.”
Tutt spoke about how Elvis’ moves influenced how he played the drums. “I’ve always said it was like working for a stripper in the old days of vaudeville. The drummers and musicians had to watch every move the stripper made to accent it with their instruments. As time went on, he would use more and more karate moves, to cut off songs and during songs, where there’d be musical interludes or solos. Because they’re almost quicker than the eye, those moves, I felt like there was only way for me to really understand them. And that was to study the same form of karate as he did. We’d have lessons and workouts up in his suite. It helped me a great deal to understand how he moved.”