Antonio Sanchez (Birdman composer)
The Rhythm Best of Drums 2015 polls have received over 102,000 votes, and we're now ready to roll out the winners. The nominees were what we considered to be the drummers and gear that have excelled in 2015. Here, we present the Drum Personality of the Year. First up we have Antonio Sanchez.
2015 Highlight: The Mexican-born drummer, who has worked with Pat Metheny and John Patitucci and has fusion star-studded albums under his belt, and is fast becoming one of the jazz world’s most in-demand drummers thanks to his critically-lauded soundtrack to the Michael Keaton film Birdman. It’s a masterful solo jazz percussion performance that wonderfully frames the single-shot narrative through the bars and backstage corridors of Broadway. Truly inspired.
Tommy Lee (Bowing out with Mötley Crüe)
2015 Highlight: The hell-raising drum star has, give or take a few years in the middle, commanded the Motley Crue drum throne since their 1981 debut… sometimes upside down. Now the Crue are totally, completely, absolutely, legally-bound bowing out after 35 years of rock madness. And Tommy was there at the end, still wowing audiences with his big beats and unabashed showmanship. We're sure we haven't heard the last of him –but with Crue, it's over, and so we salute you Mr Lee!
Petr Cech (drumming goalie)
2015 Highlight: The Czech goalkeeper, who plies his trade at Arsenal, holds a record for keeping a clean sheet (100 in 180 Premiership appearances). He’s also a keen drummer, who does YouTube drum covers. This year he made the red-tops for his covers of Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’, as well as ‘Magnificent’ by U2. Cue obvious joke about good with his hands, kicks, Arsenal 'crashing' out of some cup or other…
Al Murray (British Drum Company founder)
2015 Highlight: The drum-loving comedian, Pub Landlord, and former Rhythm columnist has been a great ambassador for the Great British drum scene for some years now. This year Al, alongside former Premier master drum builder Keith Keough, Alan Kitching and Kasabian’s Ian Matthews, formed the British Drum Company – and we couldn't be more excited to see the fruits of this team-up in 2016!
Steve Gadd (drum legend at 70)
2015 Highlight: The LA session legend continues to inspire generations of drummers who assign god-like genius to his groove, drum tones and facility behind the kit. Steve celebrated his 70th birthday in style this year, notably with a new album, aptly titled 70 Strong, on which he continues to prove himself one of the most important drummers of this or any age.
JK Simmons (Scary, sweary drum teacher)
2015 Highlight: The best film purely about drumming ever – and an Oscar nommed flick to boot – Whiplash perfectly encapsulates how drummers bleed for their art in the pursuit of excellence. Thankfully few of us have had to deal with a drum tutor as harsh, abrasive and at times a total bastard as Shaffer Conservatory’s Fletcher, played by JK Simmons. Are you rushing or are you dragging? That’s not quite my f**@**!!!! TEMPO!
Ringo Starr (Fab Four drummer is 75)
2015 highlight: The Fab Four’s tub-smasher is still going strong, making music with his All Starr band and just being Ringo… and we LOVE him for it. The world’s favourite and best-known drummer celebrated his 75th birthday this year, he’s been seen around town promoting a new book of photographs and his fantastic album Postcards From Paradise; and he's been inducted into the Rock’n’Roll hall of fame in his own right this year too. Love and peace, Ringo!
Travis Barker (Blink-182 man published new soul-baring book)
2015 Highlight: The hardest-working drummer in the world (TM) is a perennial favourite in these polls, and of course is a fantastic ambassador for our instrument. Travis has been hard at work in the studio in 2015, of course, and also this year put out a fantastic, soul-baring autobiography which is in places a tough read, detailing as it does the 2009 plane crash in which he nearly died, and his subsequent recovery and return to drumming –not to mention his approach to the drums and his time in Blink, Transplants and more. But, while we await new releases from those bands and his own solo project, here's a little reminder of why he's ace.
Mike Portnoy (played Slayer on a Hello Kitty kit)
2015 Highlight: Portnoy gets around these days, getting nominations here and in the Rock Drumming category for his work with Winery Dogs. Of course, we're used to seeing Portnoy with a ginormo kit in his prog outfits, but… when the prog-metal-beast player and founding member of (some would say) po-faced proggers Dream Theater got behind a tiny Hello Kitty drumset to do Name That Tune of KISS and Slayer tracks, we had to smile. Especially love his intro to Maiden’s 'Where Eagles Dare’…
WINNER: Ashton Irwin (5 Seconds Of Summer)
2015 highlight: When Ashton Irwin of Australian teen-faves 5 Seconds Of Summer appeared in //Rhythm// alongside band MD and mentor Karl Brazil, he proved himself to be a surprisingly down-to-earth, drum-savvy role model, and, importantly, no mug when it comes to smashing the tubs. This year saw their first massive headline world tour and release of second album Sounds Good Feel Good. All of which helps to bring real music, played by the actual band, to a massive audience of teenagers –which Ashton sees as an opportunity to make a difference. “I hope we get some people playing guitars and drums again. I think that’s a great thing our band could do for people.”