“No one has ever really asked me questions about drums and drumming,” Debbi Peterson said in a 1986 interview, at the height of The Bangles’ fame. Recounting experiences that would make most of the women in this list of the best female drummers sigh in weary recognition, Peterson continued: “I mean, I get a lot of questions about The Bangles. But no one ever wants to know about what kinds of things I do when I play, what equipment I use – you know, those sorts of questions that drummers ask other drummers.”
Drumming is a highly technical as well as instinctual instrument, and the best female drummers have all mastered the formal art as well as channelled their emotional impulses into their music. Witness, for instance, this bravura performance by Chaka Khan. The concentration on her face is clear, yet so is the flow and direct channel of her heart to her arms.