10 Badass Lady Drummers


Recently, Rolling Stone conducted a poll asking readers to pick the 10 best drummers of all time. While we’re not particularly surprised by the results (and we love us some Keith Moon), we’re miffed at the omission of female drummers. Dave Grohl and ?uestlove, but no Janet Weiss or Moe Tucker? Historically, women might have been more likely to pick up a microphone than a set of drumsticks, but luckily there’s a host of great bands from the Vivian Girls to the Honeycombs that had some serious lady talent behind the drumkit. So listen up, all ye Rolling Stone poll-responders: We’ve rounded up 10 of the best women drummers of all time, after the jump.

Karen Carpenter

Though Karen Carpenter is better known for her mellifluous voice and battle with eating disorders, she was a fantastic –and enthusiastic –drummer. Carpenter originally sang from behind a drumkit, but was later convinced to stand at the mic while Cubby O’Brien took over drumming duties. But as this solo special proves, she hadn’t lost her touch.

Sheila E.

Percussionist supreme and Prince prodigy, Sheila Escovedo ranks among the best funk drummers of either sex. She’s played with everyone from Marvin Gaye to Ringo Starr to Gloria Estefan, touring and recording prodigiously. Oh, and did we mention that she totally dated Prince?

Georgia Hubley

As one-third of the indie rock stalwart trio Yo La Tengo, Georgia Hubley has been ruling the tom-toms for almost thirty years. Her work isn’t flashy most of the time, but it’s both intricate and precise, adding interesting texture to the band’s signature mix of airy vocals and reverb.

Paloma McLardy (Palmolive)

Paloma McLardy, better known as Palmolive, was the face of female punk drumming. (Her nickname comes from a conversation with Clash bassist Paul Simenon who couldn’t pronounce her name.) She played in The Flowers of Romance with Sid Vicious before starting the Slits with Ari Up. After leaving the group (thanks to tensions with the antic Malcolm McLaren), Palmolive joined the Raincoats. These days, she is a born-again Christian who lives in California, playing drums in a cover band called Hi-Fi.

Teresa Taylor

Teresa Taylor — a.k.a. Teresa Nervosa — drummed with the Butthole Surfers from 1983 to 1989, performing alongside King Coffey on separate drum kits. Bonus: Taylor also had a small role in Slackers as Madonna’s pap smear pusher.

Moe Tucker

The gleefully androgynous drummer of The Velvet Underground, Maureen “Moe” Tucker plays standing up, with mallets instead of drumsticks, and never uses cymbals. Since her stint with the Velvets, Tucker has toured with Half Japanese and played with Lou Reed and John Cale on several occasions. Most recently (and depressingly), Tucker’s become an advocate for the Tea Party movement in her home state of Georgia.

Kate Schellenbach

Schellenbach was the original drummer for the Beastie Boys during their punk days and went on to join Luscious Jackson. She also drummed for the all-girl punk band the Lunachicks, and currently works on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Gina Schock

Drummer for the break-out pop punker girl group The Go-Gos, Gina Schock has, ahem, definitely got the beat. Recently she’s also been doing some songwriting — she co-wrote Miley Cyrus’ “Breakout.”

Janet Weiss

Janet Weiss has been drumming professionally since the age of 22, when she briefly went on tour with the Furies. Since then she’s played for pretty much everyone –in addition to anchoring Sleater-Kinney and Quasi, Weiss has collaborated with Stephen Malkmus, Elliott Smith, The Go Betweens, and Bright Eyes. Weiss is a whirling dervish on the drums, combining a methodical attention with the sort of freewheeling stick-spinning looseness that Keith Moon made famous. Don’t believe us? Watch the video.

Sandy West

One of the pioneering hard rock lady drummers, Sandy West joined the Runaways after meeting Joan Jett. She toured with the band until it broke up in 1979, and then continued to work on her solo career until her death from cancer in 2006.