Prior to his popular stint with Toto, which he co-founded with childhood friends Steve Lukather and David Paich, Porcaro’s versatility can be found on the work he did with such great acts as Steely Dan, Rickie Lee Jones and Warren Zevon. His demise into the doldrums of rock mediocrity began with his work with Boz Scaggs. It was during the Silk Degrees recording sessions that he reunited with his childhood friends and the nucleus for Toto was formed and his fate was sealed as a middle of the road rock drummer.
It is unfortunate that with his death came a virtual erasing of his post-Toto work. He was on the cusp of reestablishing himself as a premier session drummer and he (not to mention us) would ever hear or see this new and improved version come to fruition. To this day, his true contributions to rock drumming will probably never be fully appreciated because he will always be known as “that drummer from Toto,” the band known for its meek hooks and trebly vocals that created a grating and clueless caterwauling that led the vanguard for today’s adult-contemporary radio format.
Coming in at number nine is yet another drummer who not by choice, but by the simple law of inertia, not only suffered from the AOR stigma, but survived from it; Journey’s first and best drummer, Aynsley Dunbar. In the beginning Journey was a post-hippie Bay Area band sporting two former members of Santana, guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Greg Rolie, and an awesome drummer who teamed up and began flirting with the challenging styles found in art rock. Three albums of faceless art rock competence forced their manager to bring aboard the bane of their existence and their downward spiral into schlock rock omnipotence, lead singer and egomaniac, Steve Perry. Fortunately, Aynsley saw the writing on the wall as Journey switched from challenging rock fusion to simple ballads and bailed after only one recording, the album that would become the template for smooth arena rock, 1978’sInfinity.
Before the Journey debacle, Aynsley proved himself as a virtuoso
drummer playing with the likes of John Mayall, Jeff Beck, David Bowie
and of course, the one thing that separates the pups from the hounds
in the world of drummers, his years of drumming for Frank Zappa. After
leaving Journey, the fields just grew greener and greener for
Okay, here is one for you die hard
rock trivia aficionados; does the name Chris Pedersen ring a bell? Come on; now think real hard, dust those cobwebs from your mind. Clue
Inspired by the sturm und drang of the marching rhythms of John Phillips Sousa marches, Pedersen took his first step on to the road of drumming. Progressing on to the Beatles and the Stones, it was not until he saw a picture on the back of a Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass showing the perspective of a drummer looking out to the audience from behind his drum kit that Pedersen experienced his drumming epiphany and from then on it became his life’s ambition and obsession. By his early teens he became mesmerized by the drumming found on early Yes and Genesis albums and by then there was no turning back as Pedersen became entranced by the abilities of Bill Bruford and Phil Collins and the ability to be able to memorize and play a 25 minute song. Fine tuning his ability to mimic the percussive prowess of Bruford and Collins, Pedersen developed his own unique style of drumming that would eventually become the backbone to the unexpected juxtapositions, arcane musical styles and lyrical non sequiturs that would solidify Camper Van Beethoven’s sense of humor and way with melody into tuneful and unforgettable songs that would keep the band from succumbing to the sort of novelty-act status.