Tommy Aldridge – A Self-taught Drum Genius

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There are very few drummers who taught themselves the art and have succeeded immensely. Tommy Aldridge is one of them. He did not have the luxury of affording a private teacher and was not even attracted to the high school band.

So, how did he become so successful? Tommy Aldridge grew up with his ear hooked to albums by his favorite bands like Cream, Beetles, and Jimi Hendrix. He mimicked his heroes from their songs, trying hard to play as good as they were. Tommy started practicing with a double bass in the early years of his life. 

tommy aldridge
tommy aldridge

He wanted to get the sound that was ringing in his head. Soon, he was already playing in clubs and at parties.  It was a break from this hustle when he was asked to play for Black Oak Arkansas, then an upcoming rock outfit. But due to complications, he could not stay with the band for too long and had to quit.

For more than a year after that, Tommy forged ahead, continuing to follow his passion and growing the skill at any given opportunity. The drummer joined Pat Travers, with whom he worked on different projects for a few years. The duo did several tours and released a few records. But he wanted to try a new environment in England, which led to their separation. Again, Tommy joined Gary Moore, putting out a few albums. It was during this time that he met Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads, becoming good friends.

If you have ever listened to the incredible Diary of a Madman tour, you have heard Tommy’s work. This piece describes his work with Randy and his call as the highlight of his career. Tommy continued working with Ozzy’s band for several more years. They were joined by Jake E. Lee on the lead guitar, bringing to life Bark at the Moon. At this time, Tommy was ready to try out something new.

Tommy was already in touch with Rudy Sarzo, who had finished his work with Quiet Riot. They started working together, trying to make something good happen and perhaps some changes to the music industry. As they continued growing, the duo hired Tony MacAlpine, with whom they did several albums. This team ended up as a permanent band.

tommy aldridge performing
tommy aldridge performing

Tommy was always on the lookout for new things. He started with John Sykes. At the same time, Sykes was in touch with David Coverdale. John and David were on the verge of finding a solid rhythm that could support their energetic drumming. As time went by, Rudy and Tommy joined the Whitesnake. Perhaps this was Tommy’s best experience in his career, as he enjoyed touring and swimming in his rock and roll fantasy.

Even so, that could not stop Tommy from wanting more. He tried to move forward and do something more independent. Since leaving the band, he has been freelancing and working with a wide range of bands, among them Ted Nugent. Tommy is a true inspiration for modern drummers. He has set the standard for double-bass drumming in rock. 

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