Clem Burke, Blondie band lucky drummer

Clement Burke is an American musician best known as the number one drummer for the band Blondie. He has been with the group since 1975, helping them to grow from strength to strength.

Clem Burke
Clem Burke

Through his music knowledge and innovative mind, Clem Burke has brought unexpected rhythm to the raw punk and New Wave that roared through the 70s’ NY clubs.

It is said that those who listened to burke drums would recognize his unique styles from anywhere. He always approached every song from a different angle, making sure that his audience remained entertained, and that they were receiving something better than just the normal.

Blondie named their first breakthrough album Eat to Beat, influenced by Burke’s combo of crisp backbeat and dynamic approach.

When combined with the Keith Moon-motivated bluster, Burke set Blonde apart from other groups of the period. As long as Burke was behind the drums, Blondie would produce anything, from disco grooves and reggae to hip-hop beats. It was never an issue the group’s smash hit to accommodate these new moves.

Burke was one of the most versatile and talented drummers of the time, and he never stopped offering the best for the years that followed.

It was, however, Burke’s presence and charisma that developed the band’s reputation. He was more than your typical stickman when it came to personality. Those who understood him saw him as a mentor, who held the band together.

Clem Burke Perfoming
Clem Burke Perfoming

The band’s lead singer, Debbie Harry, once told the Chicago Tribute that Burke was into jumping over his drum kit fairly regularly. It was his way of making sure everyone was enjoying, not just the performance, and noticed the people on stage as well. 

Harry noted that whenever Clem showed up, he was a real star. You could tell that drumming was in his bloodstream when he was playing. Besides this, he made sure that everyone else was recognized as a great performer.

History and career

Clement Burke, an American musician, was born on 24 November 1954. He is best known for his contribution to the development of the band Blondie.

Even though he had shown interest in drumming from an early age, it was not until the 1960s and early 70s that his experiences behind the drum kit became apparent.  He was one of the founding members of Bayonne’s premier cover bands Total Environment and Sweet Willie Jam band.

Burke learned his percussion skills as a drummer in the famous Saint Andrew Bridgemen Drum and Bugle Corps in Bayonne.


His first formation came in 1974 when Debbie Harry and Chris Stein recruited him at the dawn of Blondie. He became a key figure in keeping the team together when Chris Stein and Harry thought of leaving it.

Blondie was disbanded during the 80s and 90s when Burke focused on playing drums for the Romantics. He recorded with the line-up of Chequered Past in 1983. And in 1987, he was also temporary a drummer for the Ramones as Elvis Ramone. He has remained influential in the industry, taking part in different projects and helping young drummers grow.

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Written by Andrea

Andrea is a music lover and an experienced drummer with more than 15 years of drumming with different bands and music projects, such as Seditius and Hermano & the Marines.

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