About Ian


Ian’s career in music has spanned over 30 years.

His two uncles, Carl and Steve, first inspired Ian to take up the instrument at the age of nine. Ian spent many years under the tutorage of Malcolm Garrett, who today can be found honing the skills of many fine, young drummers at Birmingham Conservatoire, one of the UK's leading music schools.

Ian's formative years were spent as drummer with the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra (MYJO) under the direction of Dr John Ruddick MBE. John Ruddick developed the talents of many young musicians including drummers Pete Cater, Neil Bullock and the late Chris Dagley. Other notable ex-members include Mark Nightingale, the Arguelles brothers and Martin Williams. Ian performed all around the world with this group, including appearances at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, the International Association of Jazz Educators' Conference in Toronto and a concert at Disneyland, Orlando. MYJO were prolific winners of the BBC Big Band competition. Ian won two awards as a young member of this group; the Kenny Clare award and the Musicians' Union Young Musician of the Year.

In the early 1990s, Ian's own contemporary jazz quintet comprised trumpeter Guy Barker, saxophonist Dave O’Higgins, pianist David Newton and bassist Alec Dankworth. They played around the UK and recorded at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London.

Ian had a great technical grounding through his studies with Joe Morello in New York in the late 1990's. To this day, Joe is regarded as one of the world's finest technical virtuosos in the art of drumming.

Back in the UK, Ian continued as a sideman in many groups and ensembles and had the opportunity to perform with many of his heroes, including Michael Brecker, Georgie Fame, Martin Taylor, Nigel Kennedy and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).

Ian was often the drummer of choice for saxophonist Alan Skidmore and appeared on three albums on ITM Records; Live at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall (along with Georgie Fame), Impressions of Coltrane and a double album featuring Ian on one album and the legendary British drummer Tony Levin on the other. This turned out to be Tony's last ever recording.

Ian has always had a wide taste in music and pushed many boundaries in his artistic pursuit. He was a founder of the chart-hit group The Ghosts, along with singer/songwriter Alex Starling (formerly of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool).

In addition to this work, Ian co-founded the hugely successful series of concerts ‘The World’s Greatest Drummer’ in honour of the man known by this title, Buddy Rich. These shows were originally the brainchild of Ian and his best friend, the late Jon Brookes of British band The Charlatans. Premiering in 2007, these concerts have featured some of the world’s most famous drummers including Steve Gadd, Steve Smith & Keith Carlock, and continue to grow in popularity amongst the drumming fraternity.

Ian performs regularly with leading session guitarist Ray Russell and remains active as a clinician for Yamaha Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks and Remo Drumheads.

Ian is the drummer with Bandzilla, LA-based arranger/producer Richard Niles’ group of leading contemporary session musicians. Their latest release 'Bandzilla Rises' features Randy Brecker, Leo Sayer and Nigel Hitchcock.

In 2017, look out for new music from The Ghosts, more educational activity and the return of The World's Greatest Drummer concert 0n June 4th at the Northampton Royal & Derngate Theatre. This year's concert features Benny Greb, Mark Mondesir and Pete Cater.

Yamaha Drums

Zildjian Cymbals

Yamaha Drums and Zildjian Cymbals

"I have used Yamaha drums since the very start. I remember to this day the feeling when my parents bought me my very first Yamaha drumset. It was a Yamaha Recording Custom (9000 as they were known then) in hot red. I regret to this day selling that set and if anyone knows what happened to it, please do get in touch. The sizes were: 8" x 8", 10" x 8", 12" x 8", 14" x 10" and 15" x 12" with a 20" x 14" bass drums and a matching 14" x 5" 9000 series snare drum. 

"Today I use the new Hybrid Maple drums in Vintage Natural. The configuration can change subtly dependant on the style of music. I generally use 12" x 8" rack to and 14' x 13" and 16" x 15" floor toms with occasionally the addition of a 10" x 7" rack tom. I choose one of 3 bass drums 22" x 16", 20" x 16" or 18" x 14". 

"Snare drums can be become an addiction! I have many Yamaha snare drums to choose from.

"Yamaha's hardware really is second to none. I favour the single braced lighter cymbal stands. This maybe psychological but I believe that the cymbals move and speak far more easily with the lighter-weight stands. 

"I have been a Zildjian Cymbal endorsee for somewhere in the region of 20 years. They are a truly innovative company and have always manufactured the cymbals of precisely the right 'vibe' for the musical requirement. I generally favour either the darker tones of either the Kerope cymbals or the Constantinople range. There are some beautiful cymbals in my collection. I have never been one to make whole sale changes across the board but I do occasionally introduce a new member to my personal cymbal family. 

Vic Firth drum sticks

Remo drum heads

Vic Firth drum sticks and Remo drum heads

"I have never used any other brand of drumstick other than Vic Firth. I favour the 5A weight and use either the American Classic 5A stick with the regular tip or occasionally the Barrel tip version. The choice of tip depends on cymbal selection and the specific room in which I am playing.

I prefer single-ply drum heads. I used to use coated Ambassador heads on both top and bottom of the toms. Today, I use coated Ambassador on the tom batter side and clear diplomats on the resonant side. I use either a coated Ambassador or Fibreskyn Ambassador on the snare drum batter and an Ambassador snare side. As mentioned previously, I use one of three bass drums and I tune each one in a specific manner. The 22"x16" is configured with a coated Powerstroke 3 on the batter side and a regular white Yamaha/Remo logo side with a mic port cut out. On the 20"x16"  I use a coated Powerstroke 3 on the batter side and a regular white Yamaha/Remo logo side with a felt dampening strip against the logo head. The logo head has no mic port. On the 18"x14" I use a coated Ambassador with a felt dampening strip on the batter side and a regular white Yamaha/Remo pro side. The 18" is generally tuned high and the 20" is generally tuned low.


A drum event in Nottingham, Nov 2016

Ian and education

Over the years, Ian has performed at numerous drum clinics and more recently has expanded into new forums, incorporating demonstration of skills on the drum set with subjects such as education on the history of the instrument, the forerunners of modern drumming and the ergonomics of playing drums.

Yamaha 2016 Recording Custom Release.

Spitfire Audio - Ian Palmer - Up Close

The Ghosts - Enough Time

The World's Greatest Drummer Concert 2015 - Video 3

The World Greatest Drummer Concert 2015 - Video 1

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by Bandzilla

Bandzilla Rises is the latest release from Richard Niles' acclaimed LA based pop big band. The new album features Nigel Hitchcock, Mark Nightinale, Randy Brecker and Johnny Thirkell amongst many others. 


The End

by The Ghosts

This band enjoyed chart success a couple of years back with the single Enough Time. 

A couple of tracks were synced for TV commercials and the intro of one track Forgetting What We Know was used as teaser for Sky Sports football coverage.


What's Left is Forever

by Thomas Dybdahl

The lead single from Thomas Dybdahl's number one album from a couple of years back. This track features two LA session greats, Larry Klein on bass and ex Steely Dan guitarist Dean Parks.


At Berliner Philharmonie

by Georgie Fame

This was an album from a couple of years back. I am really proud of some of the music on this album as it was one of those evenings when musically it just flowed. Featured on this recording are some great British musicians; Alan Skidmore (Tenor Saxophone), Steve Melling (Piano), Geoff Gascoyne (Bass).


Alan Skidmore Quartet

by Live in Berlin

This is from the latest album on ITM Records by tenor saxophonist Alan Skidmore recorded at Berlin's Philharmonic Hall. The album also features Mike Gorman (piano) and Aidan O'Donnell (bass). This is some of the most intense jazz quartet music that I have ever recorded. Look out for the extended drum solo on Impressions.



by Georgie Fame

Another album featuring the great British vocalist Georgie Fame. On this album appearing alongside some great musicians including Alan Skidmore, Dave Liebman and the String Trio of New York.