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What the drummer sees: behind the kit with Metallica, Rush, AC/DC and more...

Black Stone Cherry's John Fred Young
Black Stone Cherry's John Fred Young (Image credit: David Phillips)

Most rock photographers are allowed to shoot three songs from the pit before being asked to leave the venue. They rarely shoot sets at their climax, and even their best photos are often shot from below, looking up. What they don’t get is onstage access, and the ability to shoot while looking out.

David Phillips has that kind of access, having spent years making friends and cultivating contacts. He shoots from the stage, and he specialises in drummers, getting the kinds of shots very few others can. His latest photographs are gathered in From The Riser: A Drummer’s Perspective II, a sequel to the 2012 first edition.

The book features 270 previously unseen pictures of drummers, including the men who keep time for Rush (whose Neil Peart wrote the book’s foreword), Pink Floyd, Slash, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Prince, Michael Jackson, ACDC, Blondie, Journey, Mike & The Mechanics, Cream, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Sting, Aerosmith, Queens of the Stone Age, Metallica, Quo, Joe Satriani, Opeth, Dream Theater, Rival Sons, Motorhead, Rush, Queen, Judas Priest, Tom Petty, The Police, Foo Fighters, Zappa,Motley Crue, Lenny Kravitz and many more (see gallery, below).

“Not many photographers have captured that performance art as well as David,” says Peart. “One accomplishment is simply collecting photographs… but the greater gift is delivering such iconic images.”

“The book is a photographic celebration of many of today’s greatest rock drummers and percussionists,” says Phliips. “It unashamedly captures the energy, emotion and elegance of the world’s best, playing with the world’s greatest bands. To get shots like this you have to understand drummers, drums and playing live.”

Copies of From The Riser can be ordered from David Phillips’ website.

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AC/DC's Chris Slade

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Rush's Neil Peart

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Session man and Frank Zappa drummer Terry Bozzio at a drum clinic in London

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Alice Cooper drummer Glen Sobel

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Former Journey drummer Deen Castonovo

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Ginger Baker

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Korn drummer Ray Luzier at Download Festival in 2013

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Lars Ulrich

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Judas Priest and Racer X drummer Scott Travis

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Whitesnake's Tommy Aldridge

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Motley Crue's Tommy Lee

All images: David Phillips

Quiz: Rock Star Arrests