Kick Drums

On the BBC News website today came a report about current research by British exercise physiologists involving the physical demands of rock drumming. The findings of Marcus Smith and Steve Draper’s eight-year research project on Blondie drummer Clem Burke is that rock drummers require the stamina of an English Premier League footballer (that’s soccer player for you stateside readers) during a league match.

Smith and Draper hooked up Burke to equipment to measure his heart rate, oxygen intake, and lactic acid levels in his blood. They found that his heart rate would reach 140 to 150 beats per minute, sometimes as high as 190, similar to top athletes. They also found that Burke would burn between 400 and 600 calories per hour – just about enough to burn one Royale with Cheese in a single gig.

Here’s the…kicker: Smith notes that Premier League footballers generally expect to play about once or twice a week. But touring rock drummers can play almost every night for weeks at a time. Burke himself played about 100 concerts in one 12-month span, with 90-minute sets. Add the rigors of touring and it’s an amazing conclusion, especially for a man 52 years of age. What would you expect from the man and the band that brought us “Atomic“?

Smith and Draper are parlaying these findings into developing a “drumming laboratory” at the University of Gloucestershire to further study the effects of drumming, with the hopes of studying more drummers. (Maybe they can study Josh Garza from the Secret Machines or Ben Shapiro from La Laque – those guys can bash!) Even better, in the works is a collaboration under the Clem Burke Drumming Project, the University of Gloucestershire, and the Department of Health, Sport, and Social Care in Britain to develop community outreach programs targeting overweight and disengaged youngsters.

Clem Burke (Image:


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