From The LA Beat:
The name of John French is rarely if ever seen among those polls naming “best” – aka most famous – rock drummers of all time. But to the musicians who have had their world upended by the music of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, French is one of the giants of the form, the developer of an entirely new rhythmic language that threw linear groove out the window. In its place, French introduced a spastic series of blurts stacked up like unevenly-shaped bricks, shifting the accents to mirror the convolutions of Beefheart’s equally unchained melodies. Beefheart often complained about rock and roll’s reliance on the mama heartbeat, and said his response had to be a “non-hypnotic music to break up the catatonic state.” It was French who tackled the functional problem of how to keep time without reverting to hypnosis behind the kit.