- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2007

It’s not often that a strong vocalist is discovered hiding behind the drum kit. When one is, he typically evolves into a stand-up lead singer (Marvin Phil Collins — When Peter Gabriel left Genesis in 1975, few would have bet the band would survive, let alone go on to far greater commercial success. After all, where would the band find a frontman with the unique voice and persona of Mr. Gabriel? They found the answer seated behind the bass drum. A one-time child actor, Mr. Collins not only sings with character, emotion and drama, but his explosive, often complex drum patterns distinguish him as one the great percussionists in the history of progressive rock.

Levon Helm — The Band boasted two other gifted lead singers in Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, but it was Mr. Helm, with that wonderful Ozark twang, who blew the 100-proof breath of backwoods honky tonks and mining camp revivals into some of the group’s best-loved songs, from “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” to “The Weight” and “Up on Cripple Creek.” A solid, no-frills drummer for that most solid of no-frills bands.

Don Henley — Perhaps Mojo Nixon had a point when he penned “Don Henley Must Die” for all of us who have been overstuffed on Eagles music by near-saturation radio play. Still, there’s no denying that Mr. Henley is a consummate vocalist and a more-than-capable drummer who approached greatness on Eagles tracks such as “Desperado” and solo recordings like “Boys of Summer.”

Mickey Dolenz — Disdained for decades by the musical intelligentsia, the Monkees are steadily gaining newfound respect as a classic 1960s pop-rock outfit. Much of this can be attributed to great studio production and the songcraft of the likes of Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart and Neil Diamond. But handed classic rock tunes like “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Stepping Stone,” and “I’m a Believer,” Mr. Dolenz turned in classic rock vocals that far outshone those of saccharine band mate Davy Jones. No, he didn’t really drum on the early recordings, but in concert Mr. Dolenz (another former child actor) could nail the beat.

Karen Carpenter — OK, so she isn’t bound for the percussion hall of fame. It’s not like “We’ve Only Just Begun” required the services of Ginger Baker, is it? And with that soothing, silken voice, Miss Carpenter was a singing drummer for the soft rock ages.

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