Drummers are the most underappreciated members of any rock band.

If you don’t count bassists and rhythm guitarists and keyboardists.

Keith Moon tore up hotel rooms and people gave him grief.

Ringo Starr was dismissed as being the least talented Beatle.

Spinal Tap’s drummers kept dying in mysterious circumstances.

Drummers have it hard.

And so, Aerosmith’s decision to push drummer Joey Kramer out of the band is pretty low. They don’t call ’em Boston’s Bad Boys for nothing.

Other bands have been more understanding when their drummers encountered the difficulties that life presents.

After Blink-182 broke up, their drummer, Travis Barker, was badly burned and nearly killed in a plane crash. His bandmates went to visit him in the hospital, and there they decided to get the band back together after a five-year hiatus. Not only did his bandmates help Barker heal, they understood his fear of flying and allowed him to take a bus to their gigs, and then an ocean liner so they could tour overseas.

After Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car accident, his bandmates welcomed him back two years later and let him play with one arm. Allen had his issues, but his band stood by him.


After Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham drank himself to death in 1980, in the throes of serious depression and anxiety, his bandmates decided they couldn’t go on as Led Zeppelin.

In a statement, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin said: “We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.”

That was 40 years ago, when rock bands were more defined by their members than their brands. Led Zeppelin’s love and respect for their tragically flawed bandmate looks quaint and noble today, especially after perusing the legal documents that have been filed in the Aerosmith case.


After Kramer suffered a minor injury, Aerosmith insisted he audition to get his job back. Then they said he had to show he could play as well as his replacement.

“We are bonded together by much more than our time on stage,” Aerosmith said in a statement criticizing Kramer’s legal action.

My Globe colleague Mark Pothier was keyboardist for Ministry, a band of some renown. He remains friendly with the band’s original drummer, Stephen “Stevo” George, and remembers George was routinely belittled by Al Jourgensen, Ministry’s frontman.

George kept more than a beat. He kept the band grounded.

“There was pressure from managers and record company overlords, and as time went by a sense that the whole thing had spiraled way out of control,” Pothier said. “Stevo gave the experience some degree of normalcy.”

Stevo George left the band and became a respected music producer and engineer.

Maybe Joey Kramer and his bandmates can patch things up. That said, bands are often like marriages in that, once the lawyers get involved, see ya later.

A judge threw out Kramer’s legal attempt to block his ouster.

The breakups of bands and marriages are especially sad because they involve people who once loved each other, who went through all sorts of things together, hard-knocks bonding which you hope would make them appreciate each other all the more.


But, reading the legal briefs, the Aerosmith situation seems like one of those irreconcilable differences.

As someone who appreciates drummers, and the fact that Aerosmith bandmates stood by their frontman Steven Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry when they had their own problems, Pothier feels a sadness, for Kramer, and for rock music.

“Once again,” he said, “the drummer gets the short end of the sticks.”

Cue the rim shot.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com.