Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Thomas Verrell

As one of the most famous drummers of all time, Animal has been a symbol of the crazy uncontrollable drummer who lives on a leash and destroys everything in his path. Possibly inspired by Keith Moon and John Bonham this Muppet was primarily performed by the popular English jazz drummer Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Thomas Verrell. (The original Animal sketches point to one Grammy Award-winning drummer named Steve Mitchell, a friend of Jim Henson’s.) When American drummer Buddy Rich, one of Verrell’s heroes, guested on the show, Verrell (as Animal) had a drumming duel with Rich, and won after Animal smashed a snare drum over Rich’s head. Verrell’s drumming propelled Animal’s personality and he remained the only member of The Electric Mayhem band to appear in other Muppet cartoons. In addition to providing the “drumming voice” for this manic puppet Verrell also played in two of the United Kingdom’s most popular big bands, The Ted Heath Orchestra and The Syd Lawrence Orchestra. In 1980 Verrell joined Lawrence’s band and stayed with them for almost 20 years. In the mid-1990s, Verrell formed his own band, a quintet he modelled after Benny Goodman’s band.

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