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Heavy Hitters

Drummers in the Solo Spotlight

Phil Collins

Heavy Hitters

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Among the most acclaimed drummers in rock early in his career – check out his work on Brian Eno's Before and After Science – Phil Collins stepped out from behind the drums to take over vocals in Genesis after Peter Gabriel departed. Collins has enjoyed a chart-topping career as both the lead singer of Genesis and with his own solo career.

Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl

Linssen

Dave Grohl

Rock's hardest-hitting drummer during his tenure with Nirvana, Dave Grohl first stepped up to the mic on the "Heart-Shaped Box" b-side "Marigold." Grohl has gone on to lead the Foo Fighters on six studio albums, but made a much-anticipated return to the drums with the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures.

Don Henley

Don Henley

Roberts

Don Henley

Don Henley pulled double duty during his time with the Eagles, both drumming and contributing lead vocals to hits like "Hotel California," "Desperado" and many more of the band's hits. When he decided to fly solo, Henley found success with "The Boys of Summer" and "The End of Innocence," racking up seven solo Grammys in the process.

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr

Farrell

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr was recruited to lend his voice to a pair of Lennon/McCartney hits – "Yellow Submarine" and "With a Little Help from My Friends" – before writing his own Fab Four tracks in "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden." After the Beatles dissolved, Starr went solo, scoring his own hits with "Photograph" and "It Don't Come Easy," both co-written by George Harrison. Starr's latest album, Y Not, was released in January 2010.

Dennis Wilson

Dennis Wilson

Michael Ochs Archives

Dennis Wilson

Perhaps the most underappreciated Wilson brother during his time with the Beach Boys, smoky-voiced Dennis Wilson released one of the best solo albums ever recorded by a member of the Pet Sounds crew: 1977's Pacific Ocean Blue, which, though largely ignored at the time of its release, has gone on to achieve classic status. Sadly, this was the only album Wilson released as a solo artist.

Levon Helm

Levon Helm

Roberts

Levon Helm

The voice of the Band's "The Weight," "Down on Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," drummer Levon Helm continues to rock even at the age of 70. In 2008, Helm won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for his Dirt Farmer.

Maureen Tucker

Maureen Tucker

Morris

Maureen Tucker

Maureen Tucker made singing cameos on Velvet Underground tracks like "After Hours" and "I'm Sticking With You," Tucker has since released four well-regarded solo albums, beginning with 1981's Playin' Possum.

Skip Spence

Skip Spence

Michael Ochs Archives

Skip Spence

The drummer on Jefferson Airplane's debut album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, Spence traded in his drum sticks for a guitar to take the lead in Moby Grape, but his tenure there was also short-lived. In the midst of a drug-fueled mental breakdown, Spence recorded his lone solo album, the cult classic Oar. The album was recently covered in its entirety by Beck, Wilco and Feist for Beck's Record Club.

Phil Selway

Phil Selway

Radish

Phil Selway

Phil Selway is known to Radiohead fans as the meticulous timekeeper behind the drums, from Pablo Honey to In Rainbows. After getting his first shot at lead vocals with the 7 Worlds Collide project, Selway released his first solo album, Familial, in August.

Panda Bear

Panda Bear

Miller

Panda Bear

The youngest drummer on this list, Panda Bear, or Noah Lennox, has sporadically released solo albums throughout his tenure with Animal Collective, where he shares lead vocals with Avey Tare. His third solo album Person Pitch was one of the most acclaimed albums of 2007, and its follow-up Tomboy is due out April 12.

In This Article: Dave Grohl, Genesis, nirvana, Phil Collins

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