Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Man Behind the Beat: An Interview with Eddie Bayers

When it comes to notable resumes, American drummer Eddie Bayers has it in spades. You may not know him as a household name, but insiders know him well. And the rest of us are more than familiar with his work, even if we didn't know who it was that kept the beat going on. 

Bayers' studio work is extensive, establishing the rhythm for big names that include Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, Brian Wilson, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Rogers, B.J. Thomas, Kenny Chesney... and a list that goes on and on and on. As a session drummer he's played on 300 gold and platinum albums. 

His Hollywood services are equally impressive, with credits on movies that include A Few Good Men, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Bridget Jones's Diary, Twister, Space Cowboys, Something to Talk About... and again many more.

His numerous awards are likewise noteworthy. In 2022 Bayers was officially inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame, alongside other esteemed inductees that included The Judds, the late Ray Charles and the late Pete Drake. During his career he's received the Academy of Country Music ‘Drummer of the Year Award’ for fourteen years, and has three times won the Nashville Music Awards ‘Drummer of the Year.’ And he's not done yet.

This past week he was at the Watershed Studios with Charlie McCoy and others to record Nevada Bob Gordon's seventh CD. Through this connection I was introduced to Eddie for the purpose of this interview. Once we covered the basics Eddie shares some important insights about the music business that he's learned as a veteran.

What was your first experience with drumming?

Eddie Bayers: It was in high school. Although I was a classical piano player, I was interested in the drums.

EN: Who were your biggest influences as a drummer?

EB: My first was Mitch Mitchell. Hearing him with Jimi Hendrix.

EN: What is your favorite genre of music to play?

EB: Today, it’s a melting pot, but initially it was R&B.

EN: What is the most challenging song you have ever played?

EB: It wasn’t challenging, but it was great that I could do something to the song. Steve Wariner’s Married to A Memory.

What is your favorite memory from your time in Nashville?

EB: So many memories, it’s hard to pick one.

EN: I can understand that. What is your favorite Hollywood movie you have worked on?

EB: The Prince of Egypt.

EN: What advice would you give to aspiring drummers?

EB: Honor the music you’re required to perform. Have a good attitude. Networking is a major factor. Be involved in the music community wherever you're going to be.

EN: What is the future of drumming in your opinion?

EB: I have seen so many changes. I would say the future is here, and drummers need to be knowledgeable about programming IE Protools, Logic X etc. Most drummers I have met already know how to play so having the capability to program or use a program with a computer would be a great asset, especially in recording.

I see a lot of drummers that run sequences that the band plays to because there are certain pieces of music (loops or vocals/more instruments) that go along with the songs the artist is performing.

What is your favorite thing about being a drummer?

EB: The groove!!

EN: What is one thing you wish you could change about the music industry?

EB: Fairness in residuals for musicians and composers.

EN: What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the music industry over the years?

EB: The fiscal template that happened because of digital formats for downloading.
EN: How do you stay up-to-date on the latest trends in drumming?

EB: I’ve always stayed up to date. In the past, if I heard something "new", I would learn it. It’s the only key to longevity to make a living in music.
EN: What are some of the challenges of being a session drummer?

EB: Actually, I don’t find challenges. In recording you can fix, or do it again. In live performance you have one shot!
EN: What is your advice for drummers who want to break into the music industry?

EB: Don’t be genre minded. Listen to everything, and also, don’t be opinionated . Music is a service industry and all walks of people have their favorites that they like to listen to. You never know what your musical gig will require you to play.

* * * 
(L to R) Charlie McCoy, Eddie Bayers, Nevada Bob Gordon, 
 with Mark and Wanda Burchfield who ran the recording session.

Visit Eddie's website at: 

Photography courtesy Gary Firstenberg

Nevada Bob Gordon, author of 50 Years with the Wrong Woman: The Life of Nevada Bob: Adventures with Family, Friends and Foes, has just completed his 7th studio album. 

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