I picked up my first set of drumsticks at age five and continue playing to this day. (In fact, I'm the proud new owner of a vintage Premier kit that's easily the best-sounding set of drums I've ever played.) Throughout my lifetime, I've had a steadily rotating list of favorite drummers -- at various points it's included Terry Bozzio, Elvin Jones, Neil Peart (of course), the great Buddy Rich, Dave Grohl, Jimmy Chamberlin, even Tommy Lee (for pure power and showmanship alone). But since I was maybe 15 years old, only one person has sat at the top of the list: Simon Phillips. Unless you're a drummer, you probably have no idea who the hell Simon Phillips is; if you are a drummer, I'll give you a minute to finish genuflecting.
Phillips is a British session performer who's played with more great bands and musicians than pretty much any man alive. He plays with an almost uncanny blend of technical proficience and raw passion. The guy makes the most astonishing drum work imaginable sound easy. And that's what makes him such a genius: you listen to him and you think to yourself, "That doesn't sound so tough," when in reality what he's doing is damn near impossible.
Here now, a perfect example of his style and skill. This is his playing on Nik Kershaw's terrific song, Violet to Blue.