Tommy Aldridge is an American heavy metal and hard rock drummer. Aldridge is noted for his work with numerous bands and artists since the 1970s, such as Black Oak Arkansas, Pat Travers Band, Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Moore, Whitesnake, Ted Nugent, Thin Lizzy, Vinnie Moore and Yngwie Malmsteen.
Self-taught, Aldridge was initially inspired by the music of Cream, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Drummers such as Joe Morello, Ginger Baker, John Bonham and Mitch Mitchell were particularly influential as Aldridge developed his drumming style. Aldridge himself has become very influential, and is regarded as a double bass drum pioneer in rock music.
Coming from a non-musical family, Aldridge taught himself to play drums in the 1960s, building a kit piece by piece with money earned delivering newspapers and other odd jobs. He credits his unique style to learning without the benefit of a mentor or teacher. While his mother was supportive of his desire to play music, his father was an alcoholic who didn't view musicians favorably. As a result, while practicing in an outbuilding in his backyard Aldridge would often place towels over his drum heads to prevent his father from hearing. In the early 1970s, Aldridge began playing original music with Alley Keith in the Florida Panhandle. Inspired by drummers such as Louis Bellson and Sam Woodyard, he started using a double-bass drum setup and became an early pioneer of the hard rock double kick drum style of drumming.
After playing for a short time with the southern rock band David and the Giants in 1972, Aldridge auditioned for Black Oak Arkansas while still a teenager and was surprised to get the job. He made his recording debut in 1972 with Black Oak Arkansas' If an Angel Came to See You, Would You Make Her Feel at Home? album. He subsequently recorded several albums with the band between 1972 and 1976 and toured extensively. Aldridge has said that he wasn't particularly fond of Black Oak Arkansas' music and his intention when joining the band was to use the opportunity as a springboard to make a name for himself in the industry, something he says he's not particularly proud of in hindsight.
Not happy with the band's heavy use of hashish, Aldridge attempted to leave Black Oak Arkansas. He was forced to sneak away in the middle of the night and subsequently "hide out in Chicago" upon leaving the band, as the band's management wasn't keen to give him his contractual freedom. One and a half years of lawsuits ensued, after which he was free to record again. Aldridge then spent 1978 to 1981 with the Pat Travers Band, recording five albums over that time.
Upon parting ways with Travers in 1981, Aldridge moved to London, England and began working with Gary Moore, recording the Dirty Fingers album in 1981. American guitarist Randy Rhoads, who had recently arrived in England to record with Ozzy Osbourne, was a big fan of Moore's music, and one day he and Bob Daisley arrived to watch Moore's band rehearse. Aldridge and Rhoads became friends immediately. Aldridge had known Osbourne for several years, as Black Oak Arkansas had toured with Osbourne's previous band Black Sabbath extensively in the 1970s, and Aldridge's new friendship with Rhoads would lead him to join Osbourne's band a few months later.
Although Aldridge is credited in the liner notes and pictured on the inner sleeve of Osbourne's 1981 album Diary of a Madman, Lee Kerslake actually performed all the drum parts on the original release. Aldridge has stated that working with Rhoads in Osbourne's band was one of the "musical highlights" of his life. Rhoads stated of Aldridge in late 1981 that "he was always my favorite drummer", stating that he was "knocked out" by the drummer after seeing him perform with Black Oak Arkansas on television in the 1970s. Aldridge appeared on Osbourne's Bark at the Moon album in 1983 as well as a pair of live albums (Speak of the Devil and Tribute) before leaving the band in 1983.
Soon after, Aldridge, along with bassist and former Ozzy Osbourne-bandmate Rudy Sarzo, joined forces with guitar/keyboard virtuoso Tony MacAlpine to form a short-lived project called MARS. Close friends, Aldridge and Sarzo then both joined Whitesnake, a band who were then touring in support of the highly successful Whitesnake album. Aldridge and Sarzo then performed on the band's follow-up album, Slip of the Tongue, released in 1989. Announcing he was going to take a break from the music industry, Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale put the band on indefinite hiatus after the tour.
Following his stint in Whitesnake, Aldridge played in the band Manic Eden, with his former Whitesnake bandmates Adrian Vandenberg and Sarzo. The line-up also included former Little Caesar vocalist Ron Young.
During the 1990s Aldridge worked with numerous acts ranging from Motörhead to Ted Nugent.
From 2002 Aldridge toured with Whitesnake alongside David Coverdale (vocals), Doug Aldrich (guitar), Reb Beach (guitar), Marco Mendoza/Uriah Duffy (bass) and Timothy Drury (keyboards). Aldridge left Whitesnake in 2007 to pursue alternate musical endeavours.
From 2007 to 2009, Aldridge was touring with Thin Lizzy alongside Scott Gorham, John Sykes and Marco Mendoza. The latter part of his drum solo in this Thin Lizzy tour includes a "hands-only" percussion piece where he plays snare, tomtoms, and cymbals without sticks as he also did while touring with Black Oak Arkansas, Pat Travers, Ozzy Osbourne and Whitesnake.
Aldridge has been an in-demand drum clinician since the early 1980s, and much of his work involves drum clinics and festivals each year.
On January 25, 2013, it was announced that Aldridge had rejoined his former band Whitesnake for the third time. He is their drummer to this day.
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