Singing bass players, singing guitarists, singing pianists, singing harmonica players, the list goes on. Very rarely in the musical realm do we come across drummers who sing as well.
Assumingly the answer to this can be obvious, every part of the body that can be used instrumentally is then in action, your four limbs and tacked on is now the voice. Using all those parts at once may be difficult to say the least.
We will delve into some of the heaviest hitting singing drummers, but we are excluding those who just do backup vocals, highlighting those who are the lead singer for a song or more.
An obvious one that comes to mind is Dave Grohl, starting as the bombastic drummer for Nirvana, now the front man of the Foo Fighters. Again, he did not sing lead in Nirvana, so he is excluded.
Overall, there are many different talented drummers who can ring their pipes as well.
These are the best singing drummers:
11. Deen Castronovo
Deen has had quite the career as a gigging drummer. He has played for the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Wild Dogs, and Steve Vai.
On top of having played drums for all these groups, he is best known for being the current touring drummer for Journey. He replaced Steve Smith, a tall order to fill.
Along with filling those big shoes he also takes part in singing a few of their songs, a few to mention are “Faithfully”, “Still They Ride”, and “Keep on Runnin'”.
Listening to a few of his live performances gives clear reasoning as to why the honor of singing those songs was bestowed.
In addition, on their 2005 album Generations he provided lead vocals on the tracks “A Better Life” and “Never Too Late”.
Castronovo also does some lead vocals with two other groups, Generation Radio and Revolution Saints.
His gigging career has led him to play with some of the biggest names in music, allowing him to show his vocal abilities landing him a big gig playing drums and singing.
10. Brann Dailor
Considered today as one of the wildest and enjoyable modern drummers, Brann Dailor not only sits behind the kit to drum, but also to sing.
He got his start just like many others in a few one-off bands that did not get much attention, those being Evisceration, Lethargy, and Gaylord. In the year 2000 he would be given the key to success joining the band Mastadon.
They have been around since 2002 putting out albums ever since as a great metal band, what genre of metal exactly is up to the listener.
Brann brings a great modern feel to the band giving it life and invoking interest in the listener. His style is poly rhythmic with different time signatures thrown around.
Along with holding the band together, since then he has been given the opportunity to sing on a few of their tracks. A few to note are “Steambreather” and “Oblivion”.
Despite the normal rasp and grit brought to metal vocal performances Dailor works well with singing a bit lighter.
Overall, Brann has a great career set in playing drums and singing for an awesome band.
9. Kelly Keagy
Among the many different drummers on this list, Kelly is one who I have enjoyed greatly but did not even know was singing as well.
Kelly along with some members of a previous band he was in formed Night Ranger, a band that should be a lot more talked about it is. They released their first album in 1982 called Dawn Patrol.
They were given the opportunity to open for some large bands along the likes of Judas Priest and Santana. This launched them into being a powerful force in the 80’s, propelling their career.
Kelly’s voice has shaped hits such as “Sister Christian”, “Sentimental Street”, and “Sing Me Away”. “Sister Christian” alone is one of the greatest power ballads in rock history.
Keagy’s voice adds an emotion to the song that is unmatched, no one else could have sung it.
Through the distinctive pronunciations and emotion, he can transform the song vocally along with creating an iconic tom fill in the pre-chorus.
Keagy is among a list of underrated drummers that deserve much more recognition, especially because he can sing to!
8. Don Henley
Don Henley is a rare case of leaving the super group and being decent at a solo career.
The Eagles are one of the most successful rock bands and have upheld a reputation through time. Timeless hits such as “Witchy Women”, “Desperado,” and “Hotel California” were sung by Henley.
His clear, daunting vocals solidified the bands place in the rock and roll world. “Hotel California” is a great example of Don’s voice. The song already has a dark tone about it, but the innocent yet haunting timber qualities seduce the listener into the story that is being told.
The Eagles have earned six Grammy’s, had five number one singles, seventeen top forty singles, and six number one albums. Do Eagles owe their success to their drummer?
One can argue this, especially due to his solo career. Songs such as “Boys of Summer”, “Dirty Laundry”, and “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” can be assigned to his credit.
Don Henley is a great talent with a voice anyone can listen to, you can enjoy both his time with the Eagles and his work as a solo artist.
7. Micky Dolenz
Imagine playing guitar and practicing for an audition only to be told you will be the drummer, Micky Dolenz knows just that.
He was applying for an audition to be in a TV show about four guys trying to make it big in the rock ‘n roll world. Little did he know he would end up being the drummer and a lead singer for the group.
The Monkees are a band you hear a lot about but only know their one song “I’m a Believer”. Coincidentally that song along with “Last Train to Clarksville”, “You Told Me” and “Mary, Mary” was all sung by Micky.
While singing these he was also laying down the drums with an odd set up. His kick was played with his left foot, while the snare was played with his right hand, and the hats/ride were in his right. Certainly, a unique appearance but it worked for him.
This was due to a disease he had as a child that made the right leg weaker than the left, making it painful to play the kick with that foot.
Luckily for him drums were not solidified in his head yet, so the weird arrangement was easy to get used to.
Micky still plays and records to this day with his own solo music and tracks from the Monkees.
6. Peter Criss
A founding member, lead vocalist and drummer of the band Kiss, how much larger can you get?
Kiss is one of the first bands to achieve complete economic success. Yes, other bands had made tons of money and had adoring fans all over the world, but Kiss became something larger than a band, they were a circus act, yes musicians, but most importantly a brand.
The four iconic faces of the Starchild, the Demon, the Spaceman, and the Catman are instilled in almost everyone’s mind. The man behind the original cat is Peter Criss.
A lot of controversy surrounds this character but here we will focus on his highlights as a drummer and singer.
One of his most popular songs is “Beth” in which he is singing, and not playing the piano like some think.
In terms of drumming and singing, songs such as “Black Diamond”, “Space Ace”, and “Out of Control” are just a few to name.
On the other hand, a few of the biggest songs in Kiss’s catalogue were also drummed by him like “Rock and Roll All Nite”, “Love Gun”, and “Detroit Rock City”.
Criss was there in the glory uprising days of the band and certainly helped give them a voice and a rhythm.
5. Taylor Hawkins
Amid the past two tribute shows Taylor has become a well-known name. Whether it was as the drummer of the Foo Fighters or a tremendous singer.
He even had two of his own bands called Chevy Metal, a cover band, and Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders.
Everything he touched had the essence of genuine musical passion; despite his commercial success he never lost the itch to write a good song.
As a singer his voice was unique, his voice and name can be easily matched up. It was raspy and flexible. It sounded as if he could not hit very high notes but somehow you still felt and heard those notes.
At every Foo Fighters show he would step out from behind the kit and sing a song for the audience, always a memorable moment from the events.
His abilities in singing did not stop there as he would provide frequent background vocals for the band. Hawkins gave his voice for songs such as “Sunday Rain” and “Cold Day in the Sun”.
In his side band Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders there are also a couple of mentionable hits such as “Louise” and “It’s Over”, in which he lent his voice.
Overall, Taylor had an undying passion for music, his pipes could lick out songs sung by legends like Freddie Mercury.
4. Karen Carpenter
Karen defined what it was meant to be a female drummer, amongst many other instruments they are of the minority of players. As well as being a female drummer, she was a good one at that.
Along the likes of many good drummers she played well but was never too flashy. She had her moments but in terms of what the song needed that’s pretty much what she stuck with.
There was a jazzy style to her playing which already gives her an edge to many rock drummers today.
Her group The Carpenters, her and brother Richard, were jumping on the ride of the golden seventies pop. With her drumming ability also came a voice that many of that time can recall.
Again, nothing outrageous or truly special, but a sound that aided the song and was certainly pleasant to hear. Songs such as “Top of the World”, “If I Had You” and “(They Long to Be) Close to You” are amongst her most popular.
Her talents also brought her to the 1975 Playboy magazine drummers’ poll where she beat out the likes of John Bonham, end of story.
3. Ringo Starr
The Beatles were the top of the music scene in the sixties. A new wave of music was about to surge across the world.
Amongst the group was a drummer named Ringo Starr, perhaps the most underrated Beatle. Despite being the butt end of plenty of jokes he was an integral part of the band.
All to commonly he is pushed aside for being a common drummer with basic skills, which is what made The Beatles music great, he never overplayed.
Besides being a lefty drummer on a righty kit, Starr also took lead in some vocals. Great songs to hear his voice in are “Act Naturally”, “Yellow Submarine”, and “Octopus Garden”.
His voice is very normal, it almost sounds as though he is just speaking. It can remind you of a country singer, as if he is putting a slight accent on and speaking with it.
However, you look at it, being able to play the drums at the same time is a skill and having the ability to do so beside John Lennon and Paul McCartney is an honor.
Since The Beatles break up Ringo has released 20 solo albums, some being with his All-Starr Band, in which he sings on plenty of tracks.
Ringo is one of the first to make singing and drumming a thing.
2. Roger Taylor
The thunderous anthems, yelping choirs, and theatrical performances that surround Queen are one in a million. In that unit of four extremely talented musicians is Roger Taylor.
Taylor brought a signature style to drumming, his iconic open hats through grooves and acting drum parts helped form the sound of Queen. On top of this Taylor is also an amazing singer.
Most notably he is known for singing the high “Galileo” part of Bohemian Rhapsody. This is an extremely high note to hit but Roger does it flawlessly.
Another notable song of his voice is off the same album, A Night at the Opera, entitled “I’m in Love With My Car”. An odd song none the less but Taylor’s voice fits it perfectly.
Throughout Queen’s discography his backing vocals can be heard frequently.
Roger has since then released six solo albums where he plays multiple instruments and sings as well.
He stills tours with his ex-bandmate Brian May to bring the sound of Queen to the new generations, accompanying those songs with his all to honorable backing vocals.
Roger is an icon in the world of singing drummers.
1. Phil Collins
Phil Collins is one of the most iconic drummers the musical world has. He owns the most powerful, fun and famous drum fill and was part of one of the biggest rock bands of the eighties, Genesis.
There is so much to delve into when it comes to this legend, here we will look at his vocals and key drumming aspects.
Vocally he has a unique sound, the quality of his voice is not heard in anyone else. There is a power behind it that propels no matter how loud or soft the song is.
Key Collins can be heard in tracks like “Invisible Touch”, “I Don’t Care Anymore”, and “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)”.
Across his solo career and time with Genesis his voice has been a staple. His drumming is a whole different story, partially defining the drums of the eighties.
Gated reverb is a popular technique where you add reverb to the drum, then stop it after so much time. Think about it as yelling then completely silencing. Collins was a king of this, and it can be famously heard on the track “In the Air Tonight”.
Phill took different approaches when playing shows, some songs he would sing and drum, others he would just sing. Almost every show he would always sing and drum “In the Air Tonight” giving the crowd a good spark.
Sadly, he has retired and will no longer be performing these iconic songs.
Singing drummers are hard to come by and usually make a mark on the music world when they come through the door.
Whether they are just taking back-up vocals or taking the lead it takes work to be able to drum and sing at the same time.
From personal experience the two are very different in the way they are voiced. Drumming is a bit more rigid where notes need to be placed at specific points, on the other hand singing is looser, there is less control needed to make the words fit the context of the song.
Keeping your body stuck on the beat while your voice is propelling and moving with the song requires control and discipline, not to say some of these artists were not naturally talented.
Hopefully in the future we see more of this combination emerging to diversify the musical field, many of the artists on this made some sort of impact in music rather than just being good at their craft.
Always take on extra skills when they are available, you never know where they will take you.