Smoking! Top Drummers Who Smoked While Drumming in the Rock Era

Vistalite Black

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Let’s give a hearty salute to the impressive drummers who played with four-limb independence while simultaneous sending clouds of smoke skyward.

Thankfully, we now live in a time when 90% of the population realizes that smoking is unhealthful and horrifyingly expensive.

But, in an earlier age, we watched concerts and club shows with a careful eye on the drummer as the ash on his lit cigarette fell to his lap like black snow.

It’s increasingly rare sight ... Younger drummers haven’t picked up on it in the decade since most states banned smoking in indoor public spaces.

Little evidence survives of the big-time drummers who refused to heed the Surgeon General and played with the ever-present risk that dropping their coffin nail could immediately immolate their Remo – and bring the show to a quick halt.

We’ll welcome additions to the list, but your nomination should be documented with a photo or video of the smoking drummer performing. We’re sticking to the Rock Era … Smoking was as much a part of the Jazz Age as skinny ties and felt hats.

Top Smoking Drummers of the Rock Era

10. Stewart Copeland

9. Travis Baker

8. Ginger Baker

7. Jim Gordon

6. Phil Rudd

5. Roger Taylor

4. Jeff Porcaro

3, Bun E. Carlos

2, John Bonham

1. Ringo Starr


Honorable Mention: Buddy Rich – Played jazz in the rock era and loved to smoke both tobacco and jazz cigarettes.
 
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Redbeard77

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Bun was the first one I thought of. I'm glad smoking is banned in most venues now, but I have seen some musicians still smoke onstage here and there. I'm still waiting for an usher to stop the show to make them put it out.;)
 

mydadisjr

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Used to play in the country bars on Whiskey Row in Prescott AZ in the 80's/90's...

Guitar player would light a cigarette between songs, take a puff then place the smoke carefully in an ashtray sitting on top of his amp (cigarette was still burning of course). Amp was right next to my drums. I played in a cloud of smoke.

I eventually had to have a talk with him.

OTOH, I would bum a smoke off of the band leader (Winston Reds) before the gig and sit at the bar with a cigarette and a coffee before we had to start playing. I would chat with the lovely bartender between long drags on my only cigarette of the day. Good times in the '80's!!!
 

Vistalite Black

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Bun was the first one I thought of. I'm glad smoking is banned in most venues now, but I have seen some musicians still smoke onstage here and there. I'm still waiting for an usher to stop the show to make them put it out.;)
Bun's at No. 3 for the level of difficulty of his great playing of high-BPM songs while wearing a white dress shirt.
 

Squirrel Man

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On a tangent, I wondered the other day how many snuff chewing drummers there were/are.

I guess that's a cover story for down the road.
 
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Houndog

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I never knew how anyone could ever get used to smoke in their eyes from a cigarette just dangling in their mouth.
I used to run a machine that required both hands , I got used to it pretty quick . I always got a kick out of watching the new guys struggle with it .
 

TPC

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Guitar player would light a cigarette between songs, take a puff then place the smoke carefully in an ashtray sitting on top of his amp (cigarette was still burning of course).

Zappa used to do that. He would light a smoke and take a drag right before his solo, stick it between the strings at the headstock. When the cigarette was about to die, he knew it was time to end the solo.
 

BennyK

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It wasn't unusual .

 

pgm554

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Honorable Mention: Buddy Rich – Played jazz in the rock era and loved to smoke both tobacco and jazz cigarettes.
Zappa was a drummer and loved his Winston's.
Chick Corea also a drummer had the habit.
Colaiuta was into Marlboro Lights from what I remember.
Buddy's brand of choice was Kent's.
Lennie Hays from Y&T was a heavy smoker.
Smoking killed him and their bass player,Phil Kennemore.
As for smoking ,let nobody kid you ,cigarettes were a great pick be up when you energy began to wane between sets or takes.
 
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KingLudwig

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Let’s give a hearty salute to the impressive drummers who played with four-limb independence while simultaneous sending clouds of smoke skyward.

Thankfully, we now live in a time when 90% of the population realizes that smoking is unhealthful and horrifyingly expensive.

But, in an earlier age, we watched concerts and club shows with a careful eye on the drummer as the ash on his lit cigarette fell to his lap like black snow.

It’s increasingly rare sight ... Younger drummers haven’t picked up on it in the decade since most states banned smoking in indoor public spaces.

Little evidence survives of the big-time drummers who refused to heed the Surgeon General and played with the ever-present risk that dropping their coffin nail could immediately immolate their Remo – and bring the show to a quick halt.

We’ll welcome additions to the list, but your nomination should be documented with a photo or video of the smoking drummer performing. We’re sticking to the Rock Era … Smoking was as much a part of the Jazz Age as skinny ties and felt hats.

Top Smoking Drummers of the Rock Era

10. Stewart Copeland

9. Travis Baker

8. Ginger Baker

7. Jim Gordon

6. Phil Rudd

5. Roger Taylor

4. Jeff Porcaro

3, Bun E. Carlos

2, John Bonham

1. Ringo Starr


Honorable Mention: Buddy Rich – Played jazz in the rock era and loved to smoke both tobacco and jazz cigarettes.

Alex VanHalen who quit cold...unfortunately his younger brother Eddie did not.
 


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