Black Stone Cherry's John Fred Young: 6 Drummers That Changed My Life

John Fred Young
John Fred Young
(Image: © Shirlaine Forrest \/ Getty Images)

John Fred Young didn’t plan on becoming a drummer. “At first I wanted to be a guitarist, but I couldn’t even play barre chords,” recalls the man who has occupied Black Stone Cherry’s percussion stool since the band formed 15 years ago.

“I discovered all of these guys via my Uncle Fred, of The Kentucky Headhunters,” he grins, “which is why he’s at the top of my list.”

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Fred Young

“Uncle Fred taught me all of the rudiments of drumming. I used to go on the road with the Headhunters. I’d sometimes play cowbell with them onstage. When I got serious Fred sold me a Ludwig kit for, like, 200 bucks and it was probably worth two grand. He was my biggest inspiration as a drummer. Fred’s a monster of a rock player but he also introduced me to Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, whose styles were a little different.”

John Bonham

“There could be no list without John Bonham – The Ocean, Immigrant Song, Black Dog, c’mon. He was a Viking, man! When we started out touring I wanted a 26-inch bass drum, a huge 14-rack and 18-inch floor [tom]… they were so huge, I’ve no idea how I played those things! I guess you must emulate the people that you admire before becoming yourself.”

Ginger Baker

“As a kid I listened to Disraeli Gears [1967] for hours, trying to work out what Ginger was doing. It was tough because he had a jazz technique and had also studied tribal drumming; below the waist he could play in different time signatures to what he did with his hands. And of course Ginger was the madman of any band he was in, which also really appealed to me.”

Mitch Mitchell

“You really had to pay attention to what he was doing, man. Because of the company he kept, when he played with Hendrix the drums were kind of in the background. That’s a shame as some of the jazzy stuff he did – those six-stroke rolls – were incredible. Fire is probably my favourite of all those songs he did with Jimi.”

Tommy Aldridge

“Tommy was with Black Oak Arkansas, one of the greatest, nastiest rock ‘n’ roll bands that America ever produced, before going on to play with Ozzy, Whitesnake, Ted Nugent and everybody. Dude, I admire him so much. There are so many double-bass drummers out there; the game seems to be about how fast you can play, but Tommy is the king of the double-bass. He slams.”

Ringo Starr

“Everybody leaves that guy out, but the Beatles and Zeppelin are my favourite bands of all time. The White Album [1968] is also my favourite record… can I also give an honorary mention to Bernard Purdie, who according to those conspiracy theories played drums on The White Album? But, man… Ringo had a vibe and a style – he had swing. Stick anyone else in there and it wouldn’t have worked.”

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