On September 2, 1995, The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame opened its doors to the public in Cleveland, Ohio with a bang: A once-in-a-lifetime concert featuring Chuck Berry, Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band, James Brown, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, and Booker T. And The MGs.

Established in 1983, the R&R HOF didn’t start inducting influential musicians, bands, producers, and others until 1986. And then it took a few more years for the Hall to induct just five drummers. Talk about “no respect” — maybe Rodney Dangerfield was a drummer?

Even though the HOF began inducting artists in 1986, there was still no actual “hall” to speak of. The search committee considered several cities, including Philadelphia, Memphis, Detroit, Cincinnati, and New York City.

Cleveland also tossed its hat in the ring, on the grounds that WJW disc jockey Alan Freed coined the term “rock and roll” (among other, more practical things, like offering to pony up $65 million for construction), and won the bid.

Originally, there were four induction categories: performer, non-performer, early influences, and lifetime achievement. In 2000, “sideman” became a category, which is when more session drummers and other percussionists started to get their due. For instance, Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Benny Benjamin, and D.J. Fontana were all inducted as sidemen. (You can find a full list of inductees at ROH’s site.)

Who were the first drummers inducted into the Rock Hall? In order, they are …


Ringo Starr

Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was the first performer to be inducted twice in different categories. His first was as a drummer with The Beatles in 1988 and his second was as a solo artist in the Award For Musical Excellence in 2015.

Here he is giving a short lesson on how to play “Ticket To Ride,” “Come Together,” and “Back Off Boogaloo.”

Dennis Wilson

One of the biggest competitors of The Beatles on the charts in the ’60s was The Beach Boys, of which drummer Dennis Wilson (one of Brian Wilson’s younger brothers) was a co-founder. Along with Starr, Wilson was the only other drummer inducted in 1988.

The sun-kissed California quintet was inducted in the performer category, in part thanks to Dennis’ happy-go-lucky pop sensibilities, and later, his brooding edginess. (He had a friendship with Charles Manson, a year before Manson’s murderous rampage unfolded.)

Dennis was also the only Beach Boy who actually surfed. He tragically died from drowning in 1983, and his induction was posthumous.

Charlie Watts

Charlie Watts was inducted along with his fellow Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Ian Stewart, Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman, and Ron Wood) in 1989. With his jazz and blues background, Watts complemented the Stones with his swinging grooves and understated rhythms.

“Charlie can rush like mad and still make it feel great. That’s his style,” Jim Keltner told Drum. “He can’t explain it and I don’t necessarily like going into too much detail with him about it. I just marvel at it.”

Keith Moon

Inducted in 1990 with The Who (along with Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and Pete Townshend), Keith Moon’s ferocious playing aptly inspired The Muppets character Animal. Known for smashing kits and putting explosives in hotel toilets, Moon’s style was as hard-hitting and eclectic as it was memorable.

“His breaks were melodic,” bassist John Entwistle told Rolling Stone, “because he tried to play with everyone in the band at once.”

Mick Avory

The Kinks were also inducted into the Hall in 1990, with Mick Avory on the drums. Scouted by the Rolling Stones in 1962, Avory joined The Kinks in 1964, bringing a jazz versatility and easygoing intonations that made him a great rhythmic counterpart to Ray Davies.

Though he was considered The Kinks’ most soft-spoken member, his onstage fights with Dave Davies were notorious. Perhaps the most famous, the Tiff From Cardiff in 1965, involved Dave kicking over Avory’s kit and Avory throwing a drum pedal at Dave’s head, sending him to the ground bleeding.

Which drummer do you think should be inducted next? Leave your comments below!

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