Classic Rock News

Classic Rock News

Classic Rock News

Legendary Drummers Who Left The Drums And Became The Lead Singer

Some of the music’s greatest started their journey as legendary drummers. From Dave Grohl to Phil Collins, are some who swapped sticks for the front position. Pretty sure when thinking of music over the years. One has to pause and say, wait a minute that guy use to be the drummer now he’s the lead singer. Some members who made the switch can either save a band or destroy it in one move.

Some drummers are so talented they can drum and sing at the same time. There is one artist I have found that will surprise you. In 1975 this person was voted in a magazine to be a better drummer than Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham. Remember also the drummer is the backbone of the band. Drummers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to music. If you do not have a good drummer the band loses its timekeeper.

When David Lee Roth’s departure from Van Halen was made, Eddie Van Halen was quoted as saying something like, “Yeah, Dave just had the worst case of LSD so we parted ways. At first, I thought Roth was doing acid, which would explain a lot but then I found out that LSD was “Lead Singer Disease.”

Let’s take a look at drummers from a wide variety of music who jumped over the kit to grab the lead singer position. Some made the transition smooth, and some crashed and burned pretty badly. Don’t want to judge too hard as it takes a lot of guts to play both the drums and stand up front to sing in front of people.

Legendary Drummers Who Left The Drums And Became The Lead Singer


  • Don Henley

    Don Henley was  behind the kit throughout the Eagles’ 1970s, co-wrote and performed on many of their biggest hits, “Best of My Love” and “Hotel California.”

    In the wake of the Eagles split in the early 80s, Henley had no problem on his own up front on solo debut “I Can’t Stand Still”, “All she wants to Do is Dance” & “Boys of Summer.”

  • Roger Taylor

    Roger will always be known for being behind the drums for Queen. Roger Taylor also sang on many Queen albums. Modern times rock ’n’ roll
    The loser in the end
    Tenement funster
    I’m in love with my car
    Fight from the inside
    Fun it
    More of that jazz
    Rock it (Prime jive) (with intro by Freddie)
    A human body
    Hijack my heart

    This was the very first promotional video Roger made, from June 1984, directed by Tim Pope. The video was banned by MTV in America due to a sequence in which a little girl in a burning building is not seen to escape.

  • Karen Carpenter

    Karen Carpenter was a gifted drummer and vocalist. She often displayed her talent behind the kit. In a poll in a 1975 article in Playboy, Karen was rated a better drummer than Jason Bohnam. Now Jason wasn’t a singer or was he? Karen Carpenter had the voice and no problem singing. Except she had no aspirations before of being out front without her drums.

  • Ringo Starr

    The most famous drummer in the world no doubt has to be Ringo Starr. Replacing Pete Best in the Beatles and having a good run as a solo artist. As the saying goes, with a little help from his friends. Ringo continues to play out with his, All-Star Band in concert. October 7th at the Masonic Temple with WCSX

  • Dave Grohl

    Dave Grohl is what success is all about. Made it behind the grunge drum kit for Nirvana and then was thrown a curveball and started the Foo Fighters and jumped up front to take the lead and never looked back. The most entertaining man in music. Wonderful person to meet and have a chat with.

  • Phill Collins

    The original Genesis frontman was Peter Gabriel, and Phil Collins only took over after Gabriel left the group in favor of a solo career in 1975.

    Genesis were indeed “Looking for Someone” before they decided to toss the microphone to “Phil Collins.” by auditioning for another singer. And another. And another, and another, and another. 400 some say was a ruff number.

    Eventually, guitarist Steve Hackett, who knew what Collins could do it also, Yes vocalist Jon Anderson and convinced him to give it a shot. Collins agreed to give it a shot. Rest is rock history with Genesis and Phil’s incredible solo career

  • Chris Cornell

    Frontman for “Soundgarden,” Chris Cornell fans may not be familiar to know that Cornell started out as the band’s drummer in the band’s early days. then in 1985, Chris made the switch to lead vocals. Was also known with the bands “Temple of the Dog”  and “Audioslave”.

Sign me up for the 94.7 WCSX email newsletter!

Stay connected to all things Classic Rock, join the WCSX Workforce- it’s free and you can win prizes, concert tickets and VIP experiences.

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.