Eight years in the making, this "prequel" to The Commandments of R&B Drumming delves into the rhythm and blues of the 1940s and '50s, an incredible musical era when shuffles ruled the airwaves and modern groove playing was in its infancy. Loaded with in-depth historical information, photos, graphics, exercises, and transcriptions, it also includes the most comprehensive, step-by-step guide to shuffle playing ever written.

The Commandments of Early Rhythm and Blues Drumming was written by Zoro, voted "No. 1 R&B Drummer" in Modern Drummer's Annual Reader's Poll, and Daniel Glass, drummer for the Royal Crown Revue and one of the foremost authorities on classic rhythm and blues drumming. In addition to the comprehensive book, you'll also enjoy a demonstration CD with more than 100 authentic groove and fill examples, as well as 11 play-along tracks. Featuring styles including swing, boogie-woogie, jump blues, Chicago blues, New Orleans R&B, Texas blues, "faux" Latin, gospel, and early rock & roll, this long-awaited prequel is the most comprehensive and influential book on R&B drumming ever written.

EXCERPT 4 Article 1:
The Grooves: Time Feel Development
Earl Palmer: Architect of Groove - "Master Plan"

By the mid-‘50s, R&B acts were crossing over to pop radio stations and attracting white teenage audiences with growing regularity. Although this trend would ultimately lead to the demise of early R&B (via the “birth” of rock), the second half of the ‘50s proved a tremendously exciting time period in which all kinds of great new music – both black and white – could be heard on the air.

One of the reasons this music sounded so good was its beefed-up groove; as R&B became progressively geared towards teens, its pulse got faster and its beats became more driving. In fact, the years from 1955 to 1960 produced many of the “big beat” elements that we now consider staples of modern pop and rock drumming.

Prehaps the best way to view these changes is to look at the recordings made by Earl Palmer. An innovator on many levels, Earl was one of the most sought-after drummers on the burgeoning R&B and rock ‘n’ roll scenes. Certainly, there were other drummers making important contributions during these pivotal years, but few brought the kind of open-minded attitude that helped Earl consistently “think outside the groove.” Between 1956 and 1959 alone, his magic touch graced countless hits by the likes of Little Richard (“Lucille,” “Good Golly Miss Molly”), Fats Domino (“I’m Walkin’” ), Larry Williams (“Bony Maronie”), Eddie Cochran (“Summertime Blues”), and Bobby Vee (“Devil or Angel”) among many, many others. I’m sure that during this four-year span, it was impossible to turn on pop radio for more than 15 minutes without hearing Palmer’s beat,

It’s no stretch, then,  to say that Earl Palmer’s innovations in timekeeping were a major force that set the tone for legions of young drummers across the globe. This new generation of players (among them Ringo Starr, Charlie Watts, Hal Blaine, and Jim Keltner) may not have known who Earl was at the time, but they were certainly moved by his musical message, and integrated his ideas into their own drumming vocabulary!

EXCERPT 4 Article 2:
Specific Shuffle Types:
(Excerpted From The Commandments of Early Rhythm & Blues Drumming)

As a general groove, the shuffle is a very versatile style. In fact, not only is there a basic shuffle groove, there are in fact many different types of shuffles, all unique to each other. The book outlines and defines a few as follows:

Shuffle Type Definition

Swing/Rhythm Shuffle:

A hi-hat or brush oriented shuffle with a light emphasis on 2 and 4. Traditionally found in ‘40s R&B styles like jump blues. Sample track: “Hop, Skip, and Jump” (Roy Milton)

Boogie-Woogie Shuffle:

This shuffle imitates a boogie-woogie piano line and is often played with both hands for extra emphasis. Can be played with or without a backbeat.
Sample track: “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” (Louis Jordan)

Backbeat Shuffle:

A heavier version of the rhythm shuffle. Backbeats became the standard in R&B and rock ‘n’ roll in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s.
 Sample track: “Good Rockin’ Tonight” (Wynonie Harris)

12/8 Feel:

Although not a shuffle in the traditional sense, this feel is similarly based on triplets and therefore should be played with the same approach and attitude.
Sample track: “I Put a Spell on You” (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins)

Chicago Shuffle:

An unorthodox shuffle style that is typically sparser, les consistent, and more laid back than traditional shuffles. Sample track: “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” (Muddy Waters)

Double Shuffle:

A driving, two-handed shuffle that includes a strong backbeat. Sample track: “No Particular Place to Go” (Chuck Berry)

Texas Shuffle:

A crisp, swinging shuffle style that is often played on top of the beat.
Sample track: “Frosty” (Albert Collins)

Back Shuffle:

A shuffle feel that emphasizes the offbeats (or “ands”).
Sample track: “T-Bone Shuffle” (T-Bone Walker)

Prima Shuffle:

A particular version of the boogie-woogie shuffle as popularized by Louis Prima in the ‘50s.
Sample track: “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody” (Louis Prima)

Bo Diddley Beat:

A tom tom-driven groove that is often played somewhere between a shuffle and a straight eighth feel.
Sample track: “Bo Diddley” (Bo Diddley)

Flattened Out Double Shuffle:

A two-handed groove that is often played somewhere between a shuffle and a straight eighth feel.
Sample track: “Sick and Tired” (Fats Domino)

Double Time Gospel Feel:

With origins in gospel music, this is the fastest groove in the shuffle family. The double time feel was an important influence in the development of rock ‘n’ roll,
Sample track: “Mess Around” (Ray Charles)



  "Jam Up" by Tommy Ridgley

  "Bony Maronie" by Larry Williams

Bigger Fills:

If you want a blueprint for modern fill playing, you need look no further than the hard-driving approach of Earl Palmer. The following [] examples demonstrate fill ideas that we take for granted today. In the ‘50s, however, they were nothing short of revolutionary, and a major departure from the polite licks played by drummers in the previous decade.


Early R&B Hits You May Already Know: Remade in the '80s

Song Title Original Artist Popular Remake

Sweet Home Chicago

Robert Johnson

The Blues Brothers

Working in a Coal Mine

Lee Dorsey


The Jumpin’ Jive

Cab Calloway

Joe Jackson

Ruby Baby

The Drifters

Donald Fagan

Rockin’ At Midnight

Roy Brown

Robert Plant

Come On

Earl King

Stevie Ray Vaughn

The Sky is Crying

Elmore James

Stevie Ray Vaughn

Just a Gigolo

Louis Prima

David Lee Roth


The Commandments of Early Rhythm and Blues Drumming is truly a masterpiece, drawing from the past and the present to arrive at a well-rounded, insightful tale of the early R&B scene. To arrive at this incredible content, the authors spent much of their time interviewing authorities on the subject of R&B music. Some names include: Remo Belli, Art Laboe, Earl Palmer, David “Panama” Francis, Francis Clay, and many more.

The book is careful to note is that while the drummers of this period are not as well known as those disciples who followed in their footsteps, it is not because these giants lacked talent. Instead, the nature of the music put the spotlight away from the drummer’s and technical ability, and more onto the groove. From Early Rhythm and Blues: "[…] Unlike swing or bebop, early R&B was not about technical virtuosity. It was a groove-oriented style geared to get people dancing, and therefore based on simple, swinging rhythms that made you feel good. […] The number one job for an R&B drummer was to keep time, plain and simple, and most people didn’t see that as particularly special."

So while you may have never heard the names of any of the drummers featured in this book, remember that this does not mean that the drummers, or the book, hold any less value. Remember instead that this lack of coverage was a founding value of drumming, and thus worthy of being learned by any drummer. This book will teach you that.

It is not just Vic Firth Inc singing the praises of The Commandments of Early Rhythm and Blues. In fact, this is an award-winning educational text, having won first prize in the “Beat Instructional Book” category of the 2009 DRUM Magazine Reader’s Poll. If you want to learn about modern drumming and R&B drumming, then The Commandments of Early Rhythm and Blues is a book well worth buying.

Simply put, this is an essential requirement for every drummer’s library.
-Drummer Magazine
This book/CD package is well researched, clear in its goals, and enlightening and inspiring in its approach. Keep this one on your bottom shelf; you’re going to want to return to it again and again.
-Modern Drummer Magazine
I am so impressed with what Daniel and Zoro have done to secure the heritage of the modern drum set.The Commandments of Early Rhythm and Blues Drumming is a must—every inspired drummer needs to experience and learn from this masterpiece. The book will take you on a journey through our history—and knowing where we came from will assist us in our vision for the future! Thank you both for your hard work, so that generations ahead of us can forever enjoy this magical era!
-Dom Famularo


A native of Los Angeles, Zoro is one of the funkiest drummers on the contemporary music scene today. His stellar playing has led to an impressive range of worldwide musical adventures including performing with such artists as: Lenny Kravitz, Bobby Brown, The New Edition, Philip Bailey, Jody Watley, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, Vanessa Paradis and many others. He is respected by both the R&B and Rock N’ Roll community and his musicianship has kept him one of the busiest drummers today. Zoro’s enthusiasm for music is contagious, but he is perhaps best known as the tenacious groove drummer, that one-named guy with the hat.

Daniel Glass has played drums with the pioneering "retro-swing" group Royal Crown Revue since 1994. He has also recorded and performed with many top artists, such as Bette Midler, Gene Simmons, Mike Ness, and Freddy Cole. In addition to his work as a musician, Daniel is an award-winning author, historian, clinician and producer. He has published three books, including The Commandments of Early Rhythm and Blues Drumming and The Ultimate History of Rock'n'Roll Drumming: 1948-2000. His writings on drum history have appeared in The Encyclopedia of Percussion, The MusicHound Swing Essential Album Guide, and countless publications such as Modern Drummer, DRUM!, Classic Drummer and Percussive Notes.


To learn more about this book, or to place an order...