Drum heroes week: Moe Tucker

They may not have made our 100 Drum Heroes bookazine, but we love these guys too…

Photo: Jeff Albertson/Corbis

The self-confessed 'time keeper' for The Velvet Underground nevertheless stamped her unconventional, stand-up style on the their massively influential music and blazed a trail for female drummers since. From being invited to jam with a tambourine alongside Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison and John Cale in Cale's Lower East Side apartment as the band created classic tracks such as 'Heroin', Moe soon found herself a slightly bemused part of the crazy scene around Warhol's Factory in the late '60s as the Velvets' music took off.

Being something of a "tomboy" as she told Rhythm in 1993, it wasn't enough for the adolescent Moe just to listen to the rock'n'roll of Bo Diddley and the Stones. She had to be more involved.

"It really seemed it would be a lot more fun if I had something to play along with, so I bought a snare drum and after work, I'd run upstairs, put on the new Stones record and play along. Then my friend bought me a cymbal, one of those that has a little holder that you stick on the snare drum stand, so then I had two things to hit.

"It turned out that my attitude to drumming fitted in perfectly with their music. I'm totally untrained as I'm sure you know, I couldn't do a roll for nine dollars, which in my case has been a benefit because that's not the kind of drumming they wanted. In the beginning we used to do all sorts of improvisations for 30, 40 minutes - or three minutes, whatever happened. One of the idiosyncrasies would be that Lou would take off in one direction, John would take off in some other direction, all at different tempos, I would be keeping the beat so there was something for them to come back to. That's how I always looked at my role, to keep the beat, to keep them organised.

Of being a woman in a traditionally male rock role, she told Rhythm: "I never really noticed it at the time, it didn't occur to me that it was anything unusual that I was doing. I don't know why because, apparently, it struck a lot of other people. Maybe part of the reason was that the whole show was such a zoo that a girl drummer was just, 'Oh…'"

Check out:The Velvet Underground: 'Venus In Furs'; 'White Light/White Heat'; 'All Tomorrow's Parties'

For 100 moreDrum Heroes, get yourself a copy of Rhythm Presents 100 Drum Heroes, available in the shops, onlineand on Newsstand foriPad, iPhone and iPod Touchright now! It's got loads of interviews and profiles with a ton of drummers, plus it's beautifully illustrated with classic and new photographs!


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