Top Singing Drummers of the '80s

Playing drums in a rock and roll band is often more than enough activity for a musician to handle, especially for technically proficient, highly skilled drummers. However, every now and then a drummer steps up to take lead vocal duties, instantly becoming a uniquely respected figure within the fellowship of musicians. Here's a look at the best examples of singing drummers from the '80s, presented in no particular order. In some cases, musicians like these seem like drummers only as an afterthought, but in rare cases the performance of dual duties is equally impressive.

1
Kelly Keagy of Night Ranger

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Although Genesis frontman Phil Collins and long-time Eagles member Don Henley immediately spring to mind as lead singing drummers in rock music, both share a gradual diminishment of drumming duties as they became more successful as lead vocalists both in their bands and during hitmaking solo careers. For this reason, I'm starting with Night Ranger's Kelly Keagy, a very organic and underrated example of the singing drummer. In addition to singing lead on such iconic tunes as "Sing Me Away," "Sister Christian," "When You Close Your Eyes," "Sentimental Street" and "Goodbye," Keagy also served as more than an occasional songwriter for the band. Keagy is so skilled as a lead singer, in fact, that Night Ranger leader Jack Blades, a fine vocalist himself, gave several of his own compositions to Keagy to sing.

2
Grant Hart of Husker Du

Album Cover Image Courtesy of SST Records

One-half of one of rock music's most legendary and explosive creative partnerships of all time, Hart shared lead vocals and songwriting duties in the legendary college rock band Husker Du with guitarist Bob Mould. The two played off one another in fascinating fashion, and Hart quickly built a reputation as the more melodic of these two prolific and gifted musicians. While that may be generally true, Hart also wildly succeeded as a vocalist on several of Husker Du's early hardcore tunes, mastering a tunefully shouted, passionate style. Standout Hart compositions and performances include "Pink Turns to Blue," "Books About UFOs," "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely" and "Sorry Somehow."

3
Roger Taylor of Queen

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Hollywood Records

Being stuck behind the drum kit supporting a frontman as commanding as Freddie Mercury couldn't have made it easy for Roger Taylor to indulge his songwriting and lead vocal aspirations, but somehow the relatively democratic band dynamic within Queen allowed that to happen more than a few times. Aside from being a powerful drummer and prominent harmony vocalist on all the band's efforts, Taylor also earned a few key moments of personal spotlight time. By the band's latter '80s period, Taylor sang lead only occasionally, notably on album tracks "Coming Soon," "Don't Lose Your Head" and "The Invisible Man," but his high harmony vocals are recognizable on almost all of Queen's hits.

4
Gil Moore of Triumph

Album Cover Image Courtesy of RCA

Although the recognizably high vocal strains of guitarist Rik Emmett dominated most of Triumph's best-known hard rock and arena rock staples, drummer Moore was also clearly a powerhouse singer in his own right. Sporting a style a bit more typical for those genres, Moore nonetheless exercises some impressive pipes even as he lays down power drum fills and keeps the band's rhythms chugging along. In particular, worthy tracks like "Fool for Your Love," "Follow Your Heart" and "Tears in the Rain" spotlight Moore's penchant for anthemic rockers but also his stand-alone vocal prowess. Many fans would have lined up to hear Moore sing lead on entire albums of material; instead, he lives on as a major example of this type of multi-layered drummer.

5
Jimmy Marinos of The Romantics

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Epic

As lead singer on this American new wave band's most beloved song, "What I Like About You," Marinos strikes a memorably excitable pose behind the drum kit, pounding out the rhythm and expressively barking the track's iconic vocals. Otherwise featured heavily as lead vocalist, particularly on the band's self-titled 1980 debut, Marinos served as an important songwriting contributor until he left the band in 1984 following 1983's smash In Heat release. "One in a Million" functions as a fitting swan song for Marinos' spirited and compelling lead vocals for this understated but significant American power pop band. Buy from Amazon »