When Matt Sorum was five years old, he watched Ringo Starr playing drums with The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, and knew what he wanted to do with his life. Not long after, he got his first drumkit and never looked back. He went on to pound the skins in Tori Amos’ first band, Y Kant Tori Read, then giant step up, playing with The Cult and Guns N’ Roses. Following his days with GNR, he kept up the beat with Velvet Revolver and numerous other ventures (Hollywood Vampires, drumming for Motorhead on a 2009 tour, and his own solo albums).
Now he’s added memoirist to his resume, via the just released Double Talkin’ Jive, a rollicking read about a true rock and roll survivor. It’s a no-holds-barred look at the ups and downs of being an arena rock star, and the unexpected pitfalls that come with the territory.
His Top 10 album choices are centered around classic rock, with a bit of punk and grunge on the side.
— Gillian G.Gaar
Iggy Pop, Lust For Life
One of the coolest drum grooves by Hunt Sales. Possibly influenced by Gene Krupa, with a big open drum sound. A classic Bowie/Iggy-penned title number, with songs like “Neighborhood Threat” and “The Passenger” rounding out the album. It didn’t get recognized as much on its release, but finally charted after “Lust for Life” was used in the film Trainspotting.
Jimi Hendrix, Are you Experienced
A very influential album on me as a drummer. My older brother had this record, and when I heard “Manic Depression,” the beat was in an odd time signature of 3/4 — not heard much in rock music. I met Mitch Mitchell in the early ’80s in a club called The Central on Sunset Strip, and I asked him how he came up with it. He answered, “Jimi said, ‘Think Africa.’”
Queens of the Stone Age, Rated R
This album is a very musical record, and influenced me on how I would approach Velvet Revolver. It had an effect on a lot of musicians I knew at the time. The sound was tighter. Slightly ’70s influenced. I heard Jack Bruce of Cream in some of the melodies, and it was different. In my opinion, the best of QotSA.
The Who, Who’s Next
Here comes the herd of buffalo!!! Some of the greatest drumming of one of rock’s greatest drummers, Keith Moon. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is the greatest drum break of all time. The Who, with the original four guys — John, Pete, Keith, and Roger — were firing on all cylinders on this effort. “Baba O’Riley” and “Behind Blue Eyes” are pure genius.
Axl Rose turned me on to this record, and told the rest of GNR we should take them on tour with us. I remember watching Chris Cornell sing from the side of the stage with Axl on that tour, as we were both fans. His vocals were incredible, and the band with Matt Cameron’s odd time grooves made it heavy, with Kim Thayil and Ben Sheperd’s drop-tuned guitars and bass. We toured through Europe with these guys on this album. An epic time for rock music.
Edgar Winter, They Only Come Out at Night
A very important album for the drum solo. “Frankenstein” was possibly the biggest instrumental drum solo song. As a drummer at my age in the ’70s you had to learn it, and I impressed my friends playing it note for note. Edgar told me he entered the studio to find the 2-inch recording tape cut and laying all over the studio as Rick Derringer was trying to edit the extended jam. He yelled, “It looks like a Frankenstein!” and the title was born. It was actually a double drum solo between Chuck Ruff and Edgar on timbales.
Iron Butterfly, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Another record of my brothers’. As a kid loving drums, this just blew my mind. The second side of the album is 17 minutes, with an extended drum solo by Ron Bushy that was not only musical but tribal as well, and is a classic.
Grand Funk Railroad, American Band
A very underrated band that was huge when I was growing up. Don Brewer was the drummer, and one of the main singers and writers with Mark Farner. Another classic drum intro on “We’re an American Band.” Don led with a cowbell beat and thunderous triplet flams down the kit. I learned it, and it impressed on me the importance of a great opening drum fill.
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II
This is my fave Zep record. “Whole Lotta Love,” “Ramble On,” “Thank You” and, of course, “Moby Dick,” another quintessential drum song of the highest order. Pure Bonham!!! Like a rock and roll holy grail, I would say.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery
ELP headlined the Cal Jam over Sabbath, Deep Purple and many others. Serious musicians playing very serious music. “Karn Evil 9” was beyond. Carl Palmer not only had two gongs, but a church bell, orchestral chimes and timpani drums. These kind of over-the-top stage antics made a lasting impression on me, and when I could afford a road crew I had a gong and two timpani drums as well!