6) Paul Cook

While Cook’s intelligent and perfectly executed drumming is the bedrock of the Sex Pistol’s sound, he had two skills which were arguably even more important to their success. The first was that he was a consummate time-keeper who always set the perfect tempo in an era when Ramones-style gallops were all the rage. Try counting along with the gap on ‘I Wanna Be Me’ – it’s perfect. He was also never tempted to speed songs up live, a common fault amongst excitable drummers and one which both John Maher (qv) and Topper Headon (qv) were frequently guilty of. In fact The Clash played many songs at such breakneck speed Strummer was unable to fit the words in and had to resort to improvisation and even scatting just to keep up. Johnny Rotten on the other hand was afforded the luxury of being able to craft every lyrical and witty line knowing he would be given the time and space for it to be heard. Cook’s other great skill was as a mediator between the various dissolute members of the band. In their various accounts neither Lydon, Jones, Matlock or even McLaren has a bad word to say about Paul Cook. This aspect of band membership is all too often overlooked when assessing an individual’s contribution. As celebrated author Steve Hanley puts it ‘- You think the hard part about being in a band with Noel and Liam Gallagher is playing the bassline to Wonderwall?’

For number 7 in Paul Hanley’s top 10 drummers please go here


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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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