The Importance of Lineage

When you decide to pick up a pair of sticks, brushes, or mallets, you are not alone. You are part of a greater community of drummers that expands back to probably the dawn of mankind. Like it or not, you are connected to all other drummers & percussionists out there. Unless you grew up alone in the woods, or on an island, and you found a drum and taught yourself to play, you are part of a lineage. And that lineage is important.

No matter what drummer or percussionist you listen to, they have built what they do upon what others have done before them. And it's very important to find out who their influences were. Sometimes you'd be surprised by what drummers and what music someone cites as being influential, because it's nothing like the music they play, but the roots are there if you dig for them. And it's not just drummers and other musicians. Who have they studied with? What books/materials have they studied from? 


lineage |ˈlinē-ij|nounlineal descent from an ancestor; ancestry or pedigree.

Let's look at a few examples of lineage:

Vinnie Colaiuta, Neil Peart, Steve Smith, Dave Weckl (who play different styles of music from each other) all studied with the late Freddie Gruber. Freddie was a contemporary of such jazz greats as Papa Joe Jones and Buddy Rich (who he roomed with and learned a lot from). He also had studied with the legendary Billie Gladstone and Henry Adler. So we can see chains of people connected here:


Vinnie Colaiuta>FreddieGruber>Billy Gladstone

Vinnie Colaiuta>FreddieGruber>Buddy Rich>Gene Krupa>Zutty Singleton

Let's look at Neil Peart. Besides studying with Freddie, he claims to have been influenced by both Keith Moon and Bill Bruford. Now in turn, Bill Bruford was influenced by jazz drummers Joe Morello and Max Roach. Max Roach was influenced by Big Sid Catlett and Baby Dodds. Catlett had been influenced by Zutty Singleton. So the lineage looks something like this:


Neal Peart>Bill Bruford>Max Roach>Sid Catlett>Zutty Singleton

But this is only one path, as you can veer off in a different direction from any drummer. Now this example is not to say that Neil Peart, a hard rock drummer, was directly influenced by Zutty Singleton, an early jazz drummer, but you can trace a line of decent through the different drummers who influenced each other.

So take your favorite drummers and find out who influenced them. Then find out who influenced the 1st influences, and so on. Dig through the internet and also find recordings of the various drummers. If you want to know why your heroes play the way they do, find out their roots!

~ MB

P.S. - Don't forget to add yourself to the lineage!

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