Dave Lombardo

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Dave Lombardo
Drummer - Heavy metal

Bands: Slayer, Philm, Grip Inc., Fantômas, Testament, Apocalyptica, Voodoocult

Drumsticks: Pro-Mark

David Lombardo (born (1965-02-16) February 16, 1965 (age 57) in Havana, Cuba) is a Cuban American drummer and a co-founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer (1981–1986, 1987–1992, 2002–2013). He performed with Slayer on seven albums, including their groundbreaking 1986 release Reign In Blood and their 2006 release Christ Illusion, for which he received critical praise. Lombardo's music career has spanned more than 25 years, during which he has been involved in the production of 29 commercial recordings extending over a number of genres with bands such as Grip Inc., Fantômas, Philm, and Testament in addition to Slayer.

Lombardo is most widely known as a very aggressive and exceptionally skilled heavy metal drummer. His use of the drums have been called "astonishingly innovative" and earned him the title "the godfather of double bass" from Drummer World. Over his career, he has had a significant influence on the metal scene and has inspired many modern metal drummers, particularly within both thrash metal and death metal.


Early years

Lombardo was born in Havana, Cuba on February 16, 1965. When he was two years old, his family moved to South Gate, California. During the third grade at the age of eight, Lombardo brought a set of bongo drums with a Santana record to school for show and tell and played the bongos along with the record. This inspired his musical interest in drums, prompting him to join the school band where he played the marching drum, although he soon viewed the marching drum as "not for him." Lombardo's father saw his persistent interest in music at age ten and bought him a five-piece Maxwin drum set for $350. As Lombardo now had a drumkit, he purchased his first record, Alive! by Kiss to play along to. He taught himself the song "100,000 Years" by listening to the record repeatedly. Able to perform the Peter Criss drum solo on the song, word of Lombardo's ability spread.

With his newly discovered hobby, Lombardo asked his parents for drum lessons. His parents consented, however, the lessons lasted only one week. Lombardo quickly bored of the repetitiveness, the lessons not progressing fast enough to challenge his already unique capabilities. After leaving music lessons, Lombardo's friends exposed him to the disco genre, which appealed to his affinity for Funk, Latin and Soul. He soon became a temporary DJ for a mobile disc jockey under the name of, A Touch of Class. Due to his arriving home at 4:00am some nights, his parents threatened to put him in a military school. The transitory gig ceased soon after. Lombardo later said that disco music showed him "the effects of rhythm on the body."

In 1978, Lombardo returned to playing rock music, soon befriending several like minded musicians around South Gate. They would travel to Lombardo's house to play renditions of songs by Jimi Hendrix, such as "Purple Haze," "Foxy Lady", and "Fire." During his time at South Gate High School, Lombardo also befriended a young Senen Reyes, who would later become known as Sen Dog. Reyes would have a music career of his own as a member of Cuban-American hip hop group Cypress Hill. Graduating from private school in eighth grade, Lombardo moved to Pius X High School, which had more musicians than his previous school. He signed up to the school talent show and performed "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry with a guitarist named Peter Fashing. "I'll never forget the roar of the crowd during the drum solo. We brought the house down," states Lombardo, who became known as "David the drummer" the following day.

With his new-found popularity, Lombardo formed a band in 1979 called Escape, with two guitarists. The group performed AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath songs in Lombardo's garage. After being released from Pius X High School due to poor grades, Lombardo enrolled at South Gate High School where he found a vocalist to join the band. The band performed at parties under the name Sabotage, but were unsuccessful in making an impact. Lombardo's parents, noticing his withdrawal from everything except music, convinced him to quit the band, focus on school and find a job. In the wake of leaving Sabotage, Lombardo received numerous laughable threats from the guitarist's girlfriend. Lombardo said "the so-called manager went as far as to write a poem about me leaving the band in the school news paper saying, 'we'll see who makes it to the top, let's place a bet.' I should've made that bet."

Knowing her son was set on pursuing a life on the stage rather than college, Mrs. Lombardo requested that at the very least, he should complete high school. Lombardo honored his mother's wish, graduating from South Gate High School in June, 1983. Immediately following, Lombardo was recommended by his Technical Drafting teacher to Diesel Energy Systems Company. Impressed with his skill, they hired him on the spot. Simultaneously, Slayer took to the studio to record their first album. Show No Mercy was released in December, 1983. A possible life as a Technical Draftsman was quickly brought to a halt. Just six months after graduating, Lombardo's fate of being one of the most acclaimed musicians in the world was solidified.


At the age of 16, Dave remembered his friends from a Huntington Park, California based band called, Sinister, telling him about a guitar player that lived a few blocks away. One afternoon, after making a delivery for the restaurant he worked for, Dave drove by the guitarist's house and saw Kerry King. Dave introduced himself, mentioned he played drums and that he heard of his being a guitar player. Lombardo asked King if he would like to jam with him. King agreed and then offered to show Lombardo his guitar collection later that night. The two quickly realized they shared some of the same musical interests. King and Lombardo rehearsed in Lombardo's garage several times. King then introduced Jeff Hanneman. The three rehearsed a few more times and decided they needed a singer and bass player. Kerry had played with Tom Araya in a band called Quits and decided to introduce Lombardo and Hanneman to Araya.

With Slayer's line-up now complete, the penetrating music took on a life of its own, unbeknownst to the band, securing their place in music history. The band toured extensively in the early 1980s to promote their debut album, Show No Mercy. During Slayer's 1986 "Reign in Pain" tour to promote the album Reign in Blood, Lombardo left the band and stating "I wasn't making any money. I figured if we were gonna be doing this professionally, on a major label, I wanted my rent and utilities paid." The band enlisted Tony Scaglione of Whiplash as his replacement; Discontented with the change, Rick Rubin repeatedly called Lombardo asking him to return. After refusing several times, Lombardo finally decided to return in 1987. Lombardo recorded drums on the Slayer albums South of Heaven (1988) and Seasons in the Abyss (1990), then parted ways with the band again in 1992. Lombardo's decision to leave Slayer was due to conflicts with band members and his desire to witness the birth of his first child. Dave gave the band members the full nine months notice of his wife's pregnancy, stating he would be unable to tour in September. He soon received a phone call from manager, Rick Sales; "Dave, big shows coming up in September..." The manager said it would be detrimental to Slayer's career if they did not tour. Lombardo stood firm in his decision, reiterating he would not miss this paramount moment in his life.

In 2001, ten years after departing from Slayer, Lombardo received a phone call from the band asking if he would like to perform a few shows. While Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman wanted him to return, King did not think of Lombardo as a candidate and believed Lombardo would not be able to perform to a satisfactory level. However, King was "blown away" by Lombardo in rehearsals, stating "he's got the feet and he's got the hands, he's not missing a step." Slayer needed a drummer to replace Paul Bostaph, who left the band because of a chronic elbow injury.

Lombardo decided to resume drumming duties. His first show was at The 7 Flags Event Center near Des Moines, Iowa on February 2, 2002. At the beginning of the concert, vocalist Tom Araya welcomed the return of Dave Lombardo, as well as dedicating the show to Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff, who had died earlier that day. Lombardo toured with Slayer as part of Ozzfest, H82k2, Summer Tour, and the 2004 Download Festival. While preparing for the Download Festival in England, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich was hospitalized for a mysterious illness. Metallica's vocalist James Hetfield searched for volunteers to replace Ulrich; Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison and Lombardo volunteered. Lombardo performed the songs "Battery" and "The Four Horsemen", while Jordison performed the rest of the songs. Lombardo rehearsing with Metallica hours before their set. Lombardo said playing with the band was great publicity for Slayer.

Lombardo recorded drums on Slayer's 2006 release Christ Illusion, promoting the album on The Unholy Alliance tour. King asserted that Lombardo was a major attraction for the fans, and one of the reasons for their surge in popularity. King said he preferred Lombardo as the band's drummer, as did the other band members. Slayer bassist Tom Araya said, "It's kind of right back where we started. He's an amazing performer. We took off right where we left off, you know? It's like he was never gone. He's working with Kerry on his tunes. He's helped out a lot actually!"

Christ Illusion received generally favorable reviews and Lombardo's return was praised by critics. Chris Steffen of Rolling Stone asserted "Christ Illusion is God Hates Us All without the memorable riffs, at least their awesome drummer Dave Lombardo shows off some chops, particularly on the raging 'Supremist.'" Don Kaye of Blabbermouth gave the album a favorable review and praised Lombardo. Kaye wrote, "One thing's for sure: Lombardo's influence on this band is absolutely undeniable. With no disrespect to Paul Bostaph, a fine drummer (and Jon Dette, who also did some work with the group in the mid-Nineties), Lombardo is simply essential to the Slayer sound. He is one of metal's all-around best drummers, perhaps the very best in the field of thrash/speed metal, and his power, style, and chops – not to mention his intangible chemistry with the rest of the group and those amazing flying feet – bring Slayer's overall performance, intensity and music to a higher level."

Lombardo recorded another album with Slayer in 2009, titled World Painted Blood.

On February 20, 2013, it was announced that Lombardo would not be taking part in Slayer's Australian tour. His status in the band was left uncertain until May, when it was announced that Dave Lombardo had been officially replaced by Paul Bostaph.

Grip Inc.

Following the birth of his first child in 1993, Lombardo formed Grip Inc. with Voodoocult guitarist Waldemar Sorychta. The pair recruited bassist Jason Viebrooks and vocalist Gus Chambers to complete the line-up, releasing their debut record in 1995. Entitled Power of Inner Strength, the album was distributed via California-based label Metal Blade Records. Prior to the album's release Lombardo described leaving Slayer as a career low, because he did not know what type of music to play. Allmusic reviewer Vincent Jeffries singled out Lombardo for praise on the album, remarking that Slayer fans "will enjoy the drummer's double bass work and overall aggression throughout the disc." Sorychta asserts critics and music fans always spot mistakes in their music, because of Lombardo's popularity with Slayer—they expect the band to sound like Slayer and complain. However, when Lombardo uses the double bass drum, Sorychta asserted people complain "now Grip Inc. sound exactly like Slayer."

The band released Nemesis in 1997; Jeffries praised Lombardo's "crushing drum work" which takes center stage on the album. Bassist Viebrooks left the band and was replaced by Stuart Carruthers in 1999. With a new bassist, the band released Solidify that same year, which was described as a step towards "progressive and exotic rhythms, structures, and instrumentations, while never compromising intensity" by Jeffries. Lombardo was once again praised for his drumming on the album by Jeffries, who stated his style is "expressive and technically excellent tom work on cuts like 'Bug Juice' and 'Lockdown.'" Lombardo is proud of Grip Inc. and believes it made him more creative as a musician.

Lombardo recorded his final album to date with Grip Inc. in 2004, Incorporated. He asserted the band is on the 'back burner,' because of time taken up touring with Slayer.

After he left Slayer in 2013, Lombardo reactivated Grip Inc.


In 1998, Lombardo joined a side project called Fantômas with Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton and Melvins' guitarist Buzz Osborne. The band formed when Lombardo attended a Faith No More concert and was approached by Patton concerning his "fusion" project (Grip Inc.). Several months later following the break-up of Faith No More, Lombardo received a phone call from Patton who asked if Lombardo would like to join his fusion project. Lombardo accepted and replied "Fuck yeah!"

Lombardo asserted it was the hardest music he has played, saying "Slayer doesn't even come close. Slayer was hard in a physical way, this is physically demanding and requires 'feeling'. (The kind of connectedness that demands) no clicking of sticks." The drummer described the sound of Fantômas by stating "if Picasso was a musician, this would be his music." Lombardo recorded four albums with the band.

Side projects

In 1999, on his constant quest to expand his horizon as a drummer, Lombardo collaborated with Italian classical musician Lorenzo Arruga to record Vivaldi – The Meeting. The seven-track album had drum improvisations on Vivaldi's work including two pieces from The Four Seasons composition. In 2000, Lombardo released a book titled Dave Lombardo:Power Grooves. The book and video contained warm ups, eight, sixteen, and double bass grooves, riding the toms and more.

1999 also saw Lombardo perform drumwork on the Testament album The Gathering, rounding off a veritable "supergroup" with Steve DiGiorgio and James Murphy. He has appeared on two albums by John Zorn: Taboo and Exile (1999) and Xu Feng (2000) performing with Zorn, Bill Laswell, Fred Frith, William Winant and others. He also played in Paris with Zorn, Laswell and Frith in an improvisatonal quartet project called Blade Runner.

In 2005, Lombardo recorded Drums of Death with DJ Spooky. Spooky played some records with Lombardo playing along and interpreting his own rhythms. Spooky recorded the session and took the tapes to his New York recording studio, downloaded it onto his computer, and mixed the beats and drums incorporating scratching and other DJ techniques. Scott Peace-Miller of Glide Magazine noted, "Lombardo's influence is front and center in the driving, up tempo "Quantum Cyborg Drum Machine," and the almost straight-up thrash of Kultur Krieg."

Lombardo recorded six tracks with the Finnish cello metal group Apocalyptica on their 2003 album Reflections. Members of Apocalyptica had approached Lombardo in 1998 at a drum clinic in the Netherlands titled "Headbangers fest", and asked if Lombardo would like to do a duo with the band, which he agreed to. Both Lombardo and Apocalyptica enjoyed playing a duo and Lombardo said to Apocalyptica : "Whenever you need a drummer, call me!". The band sent the recording tapes of Reflections to his home studio in California where he recorded the drums. Lombardo's later Apocalyptica contributions have consisted of playing the drums for the track "Betrayal/Forgiveness" on the 2005 album Apocalyptica for the track "Last Hope" on the 2007 album Worlds Collide and for the track "2010" on the 2010 album 7th Symphony.

In October 2009, it was announced that he had recorded a cover of "Stand by Me", featuring Lemmy on vocals and bass, and produced by DJ and producer Baron. The song was made for legendary pro skateboarder Geoff Rowley.

In May 2012, Lombardo's new side project, PHILM, released their debut album "Harmonic". PHILM performed as support act on West Coast tour dates for Rob Halford of Judas Priest solo band Halford.

Style and legacy

Lombardo is known for his fast, aggressive style of play utilizing the double bass technique which has earned him the title "the godfather of double bass" by Drummerworld. Lombardo states his reasons for using two bass drums: "when you hit the bass drum the head is still resonating. When you hit it in the same place right after that you kinda get a 'slapback' from the bass drum head hitting the other pedal. You're not letting them breathe." And in his interview with guitar center in spring of 2012:"I don't like a double pedal because when the beater hits, I immediately come back with the other pedal. And that head is resonating, which creates a momentum that isn't helpful. It throws me off balance. With two bass drums, I don't get any problems. It's just a feel thing." When playing the double bass, Lombardo uses the 'heel-up' technique and places his pedals at an angle. As well as considering him an influence, Arch Enemy drummer Daniel Erlandsson feels Lombardo is "really tasteful in his playing, and doesn't overplay. He's gifted with a groove that not many speed metal, or metal drummers generally, have."

In response to an interview question, "How talented is Dave Lombardo?" King responded, "Have you ever seen the movie The Natural? That's Dave. He doesn't have to try to be good. He comes into the venue 10 or 15 minutes before we hit the stage and he doesn't warm up. He just goes and does it, after me and Jeff (Hanneman, guitarist) have been warming up for like an hour." In an interview with Modern Drummer magazine, Lombardo has stated that when he plays drum beats on the bass drums, he always begins with his left foot.

Lombardo's work has been an influence on many rock and heavy metal drummers. Per Möller Jensen of The Haunted cites Lombardo as a major influence, having grown up listening to Slayer; the band was a big influence on his style and The Haunted's. Suffocation drummer Mike Smith also cites Lombardo as an influence. Rocky Gray, former member of the alternative metal band Evanescence was influenced by Lombardo's choice of equipment; "All those old school guys are all TAMA guys. Where I'm from, if you're in the big time, you get a TAMA drum set. You have to be good if you've got a TAMA set."

Richard Christy, former member of Death was "blown away" by Dave's performance and double bass on the album Reign in Blood, as was Cannibal Corpse drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz. Raymond Herrera of the band Fear Factory cites Lombardo as one of his major influences, as do Pete Sandoval (Morbid Angel), Igor Cavalera (Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy), Adrian Erlandsson (Paradise Lost, Cradle of Filth, Brujeria), George Kollias (Nile, Nightfall), Joey Jordison (Slipknot), Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork), Derek Roddy (Aurora Borealis, Nile, Hate Eternal), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Adrenaline Mob), James Sullivan (Avenged Sevenfold), Steve Asheim (Deicide), Michael Thomas "Moose" (Bullet for My Valentine), Tony Laureano (Dimmu Borgir, Nile, Angelcorpse, Malevolent Creation), Dave Witte (Municipal Waste, Burnt by the Sun, Black Army Jacket) and Max Kolesne (Krisiun). Patrick Grün of Caliban and Demonic GG Allin was inspired to play drums by Lombardo, while Jason Bittner of Shadows Fall was particularly inspired by Lombardo's double bass, utilizing double bass when starting his own music career.


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In Spring of 2011, Dave Lombardo left TAMA drums to go to Ddrum, but is now signed to Ludwig.


  • TAMA Iron Cobra Single Bass Pedal (x2)
  • 24x16" Bass Drum (x2)
  • 14x6" Hand Hammered Snare Drum
  • 8x8" Rack Tom
  • 10x10" Rack Tom
  • 12x11" Rack Tom
  • 13x12" Rack Tom
  • 14x13" Rack Tom
  • 15x14" Rack tom
  • 18x16" Floor Tom
  • 20x16" Floor Tom


  • Snare batter: ST Dry
  • Snare reso: Hazy 300
  • Bass batter: EQ3 Clear
  • Bass reso: EQ3 Reso Black
  • Tom batter: G2 Clear
  • Tom reso: G1 Clear
  • AF Batter Patch (on bass batter)
  • Snare wires: PureSound Blaster 14" 20-Strand


In the studio a mix of Paiste cymbal lines are used, but live mostly Paiste RUDE cymbals are used for their increased volume and projection.

Live Cymbal Setup

  • 13" Signature Mega Cup Chime
  • 18" RUDE Novo China
  • 15" RUDE Custom Sound-Edge Hi-Hat
  • 17" RUDE Wild Crash
  • 18" RUDE Wild Crash
  • 20" RUDE Thin Crash
  • 22" 2002 Power Ride
  • 20" RUDE Novo China
  • 16" 2002 China
  • 18" Alpha Medium Swiss Crash

Studio Cymbal Setup

  • 13" Signature Mega Cup Chime
  • 18" 2002 Novo China
  • 15" 2002 Sound-Edge Hi-Hat
  • 16" RUDE Crash/Ride
  • 18" RUDE Crash/Ride
  • 19" RUDE Crash/Ride
  • 22" 2002 power Ride (for the recording of the album Harmonic by PHILM, Dave often opted for a 24" 2002 Ride rather than the 22" 2002 Power Ride)
  • 20" 2002 Novo China
  • 16" 2002 China
  • 18" Alpha Medium Swiss Crash

Dave Lombardo Drumstick Collection

Current Drumstick Count in Collection: 12.

(0437-0438) Dave Lombardo - RimShot signature model drumsticks, Slayer, early 1980s.
(0563) Dave Lombardo - new, Promark signature model drumstick, 1986/87.
(0441) Dave Lombardo - used, Promark signature model drumstick, 1986/87.
(0375) Dave Lombardo - used, tour Promark signature model 2BDL drumstick, Slayer.
(0439) Dave Lombardo - used, tour Promark signature model 2BX drumstick, Slayer.
(0440) Dave Lombardo - autographed, tour Promark signature model 2BX drumstick, Slayer.
(0922-0923) Dave Lombardo - used tour Promark signature model 2BX drumstick, Slayer, 6/6/06 Sports Arena, San Diego, CA.
(0000) Dave Lombardo - retail Promark signature model 2BX drumsticks.
(0008) Dave Lombardo - drummer from SLAYER!!! The godfather of double bass, generic stick signed at January 27, 2013 NAMM show for the original owner - \m/