Lori Barbero – Best Punk Rock Drummer

Lori Anne Barbero is an American musician and singer who rose to notoriety as the drummer of the Minneapolis-based punk rock band Babes in Toyland, which she joined in 1987. She was born on November 27, 1961, in Minnesota.

Lori Barbero was the drummer for Babes in Toyland, which became one of the most popular bands on the women’s music scene. She also performs with her band Lori and The Chameleons.

Lori Barbero
Lori Barbero

In 2002, she played drums on the album “The Original Human Music” by former members of The Human League. She currently resides in California with her husband and their twin sons, who were born in 2003. Back in 1997, Barbero was involved in a controversy when she made comments on Nirvana’s album “In Utero” that was supposedly about Kurt Cobain.

Lori Barbero Early Journey

At the age of fourteen, her father moved the family to Pearl River, New York, where she attended high school, graduating in 1978. During her teenage years, Barbero often ventured into New York City to attend concerts, specifically at CBGB, which exposed her to a wide array of bands. After high school, Barbero moved to Key West, Florida before returning to Minneapolis, where she attended the University of Minnesota before Barbero dropped out and worked as a waitress.

In 1987, Barbero was studying art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design when she met Kat Bjelland and Michelle Leon. After their previous drummer had quit, they invited Barbero to practice with them at Leon’s house in Minneapolis.

After a few months of practicing and writing, they decided to form a band. They originally called themselves The Insects, but eventually, they settled on the name Babes in Toyland. At the time, Lori Barbero wanted to learn how to play drums and start a band. long story short, she attended a Minneapolis barbecue where she met singer/guitarist Kat Bjelland. Barbero had never played a musical instrument prior to joining Babes in Toyland, but she had always wanted to learn to play drums. Upon meeting Kat Bjelland at a barbecue, Kat Bjelland asked her to start a band with her.

Lori Barbero with Babes in Toyland

Lori and Michelle worked together on Babes in Toyland songs for years before including Kat Bjelland. Lori is known as one of the best female drummers in the world. She is well known for her drumming technique, her speed around the kit, and her relentless energy when performing live.

Lori Barbero played drums in Babes In Toyland from 1987 to 2000. Since their split up she has been pursuing a solo career with several bands including The Chameleons which includes Michelle Leon and Kat Bjelland.

Best Punk Drummers Around

She is known as one of the best punk drummers around. She has recorded albums with both bands and has done some side projects, such as recording a cover of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” with Citizen Dick (a supergroup consisting of Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic and ex-Soundgarden producer Jack Endino). Barbero has toured extensively.

In 1994 she retired from touring but continued to work on Babes In Toyland recordings until their disbandment in 2001. After the split of Babes in Toyland, Barbero formed a new band called ChameleonsVox. The name is based on Peter Murphy’s backing band (which she was also a part of for some time), and ended up becoming an actual continuation of the earlier project due to “the fans’ insistent pleas”.

Lori Barbero is ranked number 31 in the top 50 greatest female drummers of all time. Lori has never married and has no children, she once said “I love children but I don’t think I’d be a good mother; I’m too neurotic”. Recently, she lives in Minneapolis with her cat, Mascott.

Barbero Subsequently Played Drums for Eggtwist and Koalas

Lori Barbero
Lori Barbero performing

After the dissolution of Babes in Toyland in 2001, Lori Barbero subsequently played drums for the bands Eggtwist and Koalas. She was also part-owner of the now-defunct Minneapolis label Spanish Fly Records, whose roster included Smut, Dumpster Juice, Milk, REO Speedealer, Sleep Capsule, and Like hell.

Lori contributed to a zine called After Grrrl (Small Stories From Big Lives) in 2015. The zine included stories from many influential female artists, icons, and tastemakers including Allison Wolfe, Camille Rose Garcia, Tara McPherson, Kelly Osbourne, Bonnie Burton, Remy Holwick, Jessicka, Janine Jarman as well as many others.