Drummers Who Started Late in Life

Posted by Mike Schumacher

Passion knows no bounds but age can sometimes play a defining factor. Is it ever too old to start playing the drums?

No way! Here’s a list of several drummers who started late in their lives and still became hugely successful.

But let’s first analyze what age is ideal to start playing the drums.

What is the right age to play drums?

Experts talk about a ‘critical period’ where it is the easiest for people to learn new skills. This period is usually around age 5 years old and continues until puberty.

This age is where it easiest to learn second languages. Although this hasn’t been studied extensively, music is probably a lot like a language and this would be an ‘ideal’ age to start consuming music extensively or even picking up an instrument.

However as we will see, there is no ‘right age’ to pick up an instrument since so many amazing musicians started after this critical period. Even later in life, all it takes is the right discipline and desire to master your instrument and you can get very good in a short amount of time.

Many of the great musicians learned to play in their teenage years or even later. Let’s take a look at who made the list.

Maureen Tucker

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Rock band Velvet Underground’s Maureen Tucker didn’t start to play drums until she was 19. She was asked to join the band when she had been drumming for only two years.

Tucker’s specialty is that she was a self-taught person that eventually became a very skilled rock drummer. She would also play drums while standing and would still manage to perform well.

The famous drummer chose a simple style for her beats and eventually became one of the most successful artists of her time.

Check her out below:

Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl playing the drums

One of the most celebrated musicians of all time from the hailed group of Nirvana started drumming when he was in his high school years.

But Grohl did not completely switch to drums until he became part of the band Freak Baby, which was later renamed as Mission Impossible. More interestingly, Grohl revealed in 2013 that he didn’t take lessons for drumming and learned from listening to music records.

The celebrated artist terms John Bonham as his greatest influence while learning to play drums. At the age of 17, Grohl joined the band Scream after the departure of drummer Kent Stax. The band Scream was where Nirvana first saw him and sought him out to join their trio.

Meg White

Meg White Playing the drums

Megan Martha White is famous for her association with the rock band The White Stripes. She started playing drums when she was 23. The band gained fame due to the simplicity of her drumming style, which is best described as “primal.”

The artist interestingly received both praise and criticism for her simple role in drumming, but she remained consistent with her own methods. But in her own words, she defined herself as a drummer with a natural tendency to intensify the beats.

White, according to experts, set an example that even the simplest ideas can be turned into successful performances.

The 44-year-old artist also sings as she plays the drums, which makes her work more powerful. White’s simple style enables her to carry simple tunes and which eventually lead her to become such a successful drummer.

Phil Collins

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Phil Collins may not be regarded as a later starter but it was at the age of 19 that he joined Genesis as a professional drummer.

The now 68-year-old artist first played the drums when he was only five years old, and soon many roles as a child actor. Collins was made part of the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame and the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Interestingly the artist never learned traditional musical notation but instead devised a system himself.

Kim Schifino

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Kim Schifino is a member of the Matt and Kim band that’s known for its energetic dance music and shows.

Schifino didn’t start to play drums until she was 23. Did you know that the drummer suffered a knee injury during a music festival in 2017 while doing a stage jump? Due to the accident, the duo had to take a break which was the longest in their 14-year career.

Mark Guiliana

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The incredible jazz drummer with an amazing sense of time and ability to sound like a DRUM MACHINE started playing drums at 15 years old!

He was even rejected by a music school, which he was unfazed by—he understood that he hadn’t been studying as long as other kids he says.

He went on to study with the great John Riley and then performed with jazz legends such as Avishai Cohen and Brad Meldau.

Check him out here:

Drumming and its benefits: what does the research say?

Before we conclude this article, let’s look at the scientific research on drumming and its benefits. Regardless of the age factor, drumming has a significant impact on the human brain, due to the multitasking factor.

A drummer makes use of the hands and feet simultaneously to produce the right beats. This according to the experts makes these artists quick thinkers and smart people.

Health benefits of drumming

Following is a summary of recent research which showcases some benefits of drumming:

  1. Drumming releases certain waves in your brain which can make you happy.
  2. An hour of drumming may cause the stress hormones to reverse and hence make you feel more relaxed.
  3. It can also serve as a distraction from chronic pain and may produce hormones that have an effect similar to that of a pain killer.
  4. Group drumming can also boost your immune system to fight cancer, viruses and even AIDS.
  5. A drummer’s beats create a rhythm that exerts a powerful impact on the mind.
  6. Group drumming allows personal transformation as it allows a form of “talk therapy.” It helps to explore the inner self in terms of consciousness.
  7. Drumming also helps release negative feelings.
  8. The study also revealed that drumming gives you a strong sense of your present moment through its rhythmic power.


When it comes to learning the art of drumming, age may definitely not be a barrier. There are countless professionals who performed amazing despite starting late in their lives.

Scientific research links drumming with several health benefits due to the stimulation of the brain. Learning to produce the beats may sharpen your mental capabilities and make you a quick thinker.

So if you are an aspiring drummer but you think of your age as a barrier, you need to challenge this belief!

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