I've mentioned in the past that I have a cultish obsession with a particular Manchester, UK band called The Chameleons.
It was with great sadness today that I have learned of the death of John Lever, who manned the skins for The Chameleons and did a lot of other work in his time.
John Lever wasn't just a drummer. He wasn't the 'bash and crash', rhythm-keeper drummers are known to be, but was a musician of the highest order, taking songs to another level, giving them life and dimension. John Bonham of Led Zeppelin is widely known for his greatness. John Lever was his equal. Damn straight, and every bit of it.
Catch that break after the intro. The pulse, followed by a series of hits and fills... stirring the piece to life, taking it to a higher plane.
Or this... No bash and crash, not frantic... It's subtle. Not many of those who bang skins can do this. I was a drummer back in the day, and I can tell you that drummers are not subtle. Never. We aren't created that way. What you are hearing here is a true musician applying his craft. It says a lot when a drummer can go unnoticed while dominating a piece. He does it.
The Chameleons were influential with their use of dual guitar melodies. What goes unnoticed here is a seemingly different melody. John Lever provides the intro: Pounding. Driving. Tone setting. The guitars enter the fray and things start to change. The strikes seem 'off'. Not where the typical drummer would put them. He's playing a different melody, to different time... but the timing is perfect. He is mortar and lace, holding the bricks together: weaving tween the guitars, enabling them to reach for the skies... and taking them there himself at moments.
Awesome work, by an awesome man.
The Chameleons never achieved the level of respect they deserved. Not much is known about him outside of his artistic circle. This means that John Lever will go largely unnoticed by the greater Rock n Roll community. This is a damn shame.
I do know that he was somebody's son. He was a father. A husband. Others loved him for reasons far greater than mine, and their loss pales in comparison to what I'm feeling. Today, my thoughts are with his family, his friends, and the Manchester music community.
Thank you, John Lever, for what you have given to me, and to the world. Your time here has meant so much, to so many.