Drum Roll Please: 5 Legendary Drummers Who Made Contributions To Rock And Cannabis Culture

On Mar. 31, Rolling Stone released their list of rock's best drummers, which is a companion piece to their lists of pop's best singers and guitarists. To pay tribute to those at the top of the list, we put together a gallery celebrating their contributions to rock as well as cannabis culture. As an extra treat, we threw in some of their best work on the skins. Enjoy!

Ringo Starr (RS Ranking: 14th)

When Bob Dylan introduced The Beatles to marijuana on Aug. 28, 1964, Ringo Starr took the first puff. "I went first. The drummers always go first," Starr told Conan O'Brien in 2012. So how was his first time? "I laughed, and I laughed, and I laughed. It was fabulous," he said in The Beatles Anthology.

By the time they recorded "Ticket to Ride" and other songs for Help, they were smoking marijuana for breakfast, according to John Lennon.

Charlie Watts (RS Ranking: 12th)

Given The Rolling Stones' reputation for hedonism, you'd think founding member Charlie Watts took part in the cannabis bacchanalia that defined 60s counterculture . But he was actually one of the more straight-laced members of the group. "I was never into drugs much at that time," he told biographer Alan Clayson.

In the 70s, he dabbled with heroin until he was scared straight by an unlikely source. Keith Richards casually intervened in the studio one day when Watts passed out. You know things are bad when Richards thinks you're habit is getting out of control.

Here's Watts thumping out the Stones' ode to never feeling fulfilled.

Mitch Mitchell (RS Ranking: 8th)

Mitch Mitchell will forever live in the shadow of famous bandmate Jimi Hendrix - in terms of his contributions to music as well as cannabis culture. We know that Jimi commonly smoked cannabis before sets. But the man laying a thunderous backbeat for the rock trio was quiet on the subject. Still, there's no doubt that his work encouraged a lot of people to get "experienced" in the 60s.

Neil Peart (RS Ranking: 4th)

The Rush percussionist is a marijuana fan, but he doesn't like to make a big deal about it. "I like marijuana," he told Rolling Stone in 2016. "But I'm not going to be the poster child for it." Check out the group's prog rock opus "Xanadu," which is based on the trippy poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Ginger Baker (RS Ranking: 3rd)

According to rock lore, the British rock trio Cream got its name because Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton were the cream of the crop among British musicians. Not so, according to Rolling Stone, who ranked Baker behind Led Zeppelin's John Bonham (the top drummer on their list) and The Who's Keith Moon (the runner up).

But Baker stands out for his legendary cannabis anecdotes. According to his autobiography Hellraiser (2010), Baker infamously got high before beating up The Moody Blues, was once suspected of smuggling marijuana into Jamaica and grew marijuana at home.

Check out Baker's show-stopping drum solo in Cream's farewell concert.

h/t NME,


2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker (D-NJ) has announced a plan to grant clemency to thousands of people serving time for federal drug convictions. Last Thursday, Booker released his 'Restoring Justice' plan, which would offer clemency to more than 17,000 individuals who are currently doing time for nonviolent drug convictions. Booker pledged to implement the plan immediately upon taking office via an executive order as a means to address the huge disparities in drug policing.

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