Ex-ELO and Black Sabbath member Bev Bevan on the drummers that inspired him

Former ELO and Black Sabbath drummer Bev Bevan talks with Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson about the singles that influenced him and the drummers that played on them.

“All of these singles influenced me greatly as a drummer,” Bev Bevan tells me as we catch up on his musical influences. Noticing my surname, he asks me “You’ve got no relation to Harry Nilsson, I suppose? I am a big fan of his.”

Born in Birmingham, England in 1944, Bev Bevan started his career in music with Denny Laine & the Diplomats in 1963, opening shows for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. He then did a stint in Germany with Carl Wayne & the Vikings before becoming a founding member of The Move. In The Move he played with Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne. The three gentlemen would go on to form the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). In 1983, Bev joined Black Sabbath, replacing original drummer Bill Ward in a line-up consisting of Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Ian Gillan. The band’s “Born Again” tour of Europe and North America included a headline slot at the Reading Festival. Bev appears in the Black Sabbath music videos for the songs “Trashed” and “Zero the Hero”. In 1987, Bev was again called in by Sabbath to record percussion for the album “The Eternal idol”. Later on, Bev would be performing in reformed line-ups of both The Move and ELO. He is still active as a musician and most recently released “Riding Rainbows” in October 2021 with his current band Quill.

“In 1959, when I was still at school and just fallen in love with American rock’n’roll music, two singles stand out.”

“What’d I Say” by Ray Charles and His Orchestra

“Drummer Milt Turner plays a rhumba pattern on the bell of his ride cymbal with one hand whilst maintaining a soulful rhythm with the other – brilliant! At the time I was learning to play and thought it must have been two drummers!”

“Somethin’ Else” by Eddie Cochran

“The drummer here is the fabulous Earl Palmer, who was the favourite drummer of my old friend, the late, great John Bonham. The drum pattern here is the same one that Charles Connor used on Little Richard’s ‘Keep A-Knockin’.”

“Be My Baby” by The Ronettes (1963)

“I loved all the Phil Spector recordings and the drummer he used the most was Earl Palmer. His massive drum sound helped develop me playing loud and hard and influential for me on many ELO recordings.”

“My Generation” by The Who (1965)

Keith Moon was a one off – a brilliant showman. The Who and my old band The Move worked together a few times in the late ‘60s and I loved watching Moony play. We got to know each other too – a lunatic – Moon the Loon!”

“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin (1969)

“In the mid-sixties a young John Bonham used to come and watch me play. I was the loudest drummer around at that time and I believe that I did influence him in those days. Then he went on to become the best rock drummer on the planet! We went on to become good friends and had many great times together, before his tragic and untimely death.”