In celebration of Dave Lombardo's first-ever solo album, 'Rites of Percussion,' we invited the drummer to share his favorite non-metal drummers, which will help speak to the breadth of his work on display behind the kit on this record.

Best known as the drummer in Slayer for a total of 20 years during multiple stints with the group, Lombardo is featured on the thrash legends' first five records, as well as 2006's 'Christ Illusion' and 2009's 'World Painted Blood.' His extensive and dynamic career reaches far beyond the boundaries of thrash (which he helped push), having also lent his talents to Testament, Suicidal Tendencies, Grip Inc. and others, while he actively plays in Mr. Bungle, Misfits, Dead Cross, Satanic Planet and his latest group, Empire State Bastard.

But that's enough about metal, punk and rock! Lombardo is here to talk about his premiere drumming influences who are not at all entrenched in the world of heavy music. Take it away, Dave...

Some might assume that because I am a founding member of the thrash metal band Slayer, and because of the various metal, thrash, punk bands I have worked with to date, that I was raised in a leather clad family and bottle fed heavy metal at birth. Sorry to disappoint, I wasn't. It was quite the opposite. My love and passion for hardcore music was established by my teen musical discoveries and friendships with various like-minded music lovers.

Anyone who knows anything about me could probably list my early hard rock influences: John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Bill Ward (Black Sabbath), Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience), and Ginger Baker (Cream).

Dave Lombardo, "Journey of the Host"

What most don't know is the influence that Latin Jazz and Afro Cuban music has had on me. My family moved to America when I was one-and a-half years of age. Outside of our home, I was in America. Inside my home, I was in Cuba. Those rhythms are primarily my earliest memories of music and the sounds that made me pick up the sticks. There are, however, a couple powerful exceptions.

Here are five of the most important non-metal drummers that fueled my style and direction.

Get your copy of Dave Lombardo's solo album 'Rites of Percussion' (out May 5 on Ipecac Recordings) here. Follow the drum legend on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify.

  • Tito Puente

    Tito was by far the first to ever catch my ear. His collaborations with Cuban icon Celia Cruz were on heavy rotation in my childhood home. His drumming ability, style, songwriting and showmanship really sparked my interest. Watching how his music impacted my parents and how it brought them undeniable joy, made me want to do the same for others.

  • Mongo Santamaria

    Sifting through my family's collection of music also led me to Mongo. His music was a classic and instant hit in our home. Especially the song, "Sofrito." This one song certainly doesn’t give proper credit to his vast catalog, but it was a family favorite.

  • Chano Pozo

    The man that helped Dizzy Gillespie take his songwriting to the next level. There is not a percussionist, especially a conga player, that does not owe Chano a nod of recognition.

  • The drummers and percussionists of Irakere

    It’s impossible to choose just one. They have had many through the years… but those musically explosive years would not exist without the originals. Oscar Valdés (percussion/singer), Bernardo García (drummer), Enrique Pla (drummer), Jorge Alfonso (percussion, congas, rumba), and Armando Cuervo (percussion).

  • Buddy Rich

    Likely the first jazz drummer I ever witnessed. I believe it was his 1975 performance on The Tonight Show. Self taught, electrifying and fearless. Definitely a staple in my drumming blueprint.


    Instead of choosing just one, they are a few other phenomenal talents who inspired me along the way: Billy Cobham, Tony Williams, and Alphonse Mouzon.

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