Dean Zimmer: One Badass Rock Drummer

Mondays suck. With a new set of days separating you from the weekend, getting out of bed can seem like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Before you curl up and cry yourself back to sleep, check out Dean Zimmer and get motivated.

Zimmer has arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that severely restricts joint movement in his arms and legs. Each and every day is a hard-fought battle. Walking is almost impossible, and after trying crutches and braces, Zimmer opted for a wheelchair. His hands remain twisted and gnarled from countless surgeries during his youth. Before you start to feel bad for Dean Zimmer, you should know this: he is one badass rock drummer.

Growing up in South Dakota, Zimmer fell in love with music at a very young age. Without his own drum set, or even a music program at school, Zimmer spent hours drumming on his legs while “stuck” in his chair. As he got older, he graduated to a full set and a legend was born. Knowing there was little future for a rock drummer in South Dakota, Zimmer packed up and moved to California. “I knew I could play all my life in South Dakota, and nobody would ever know I was around,” Zimmer told the Los Angeles Times.

Rick Abbott, a bandmate of Zimmer, says their band has opened for rock legends like Thin Lizzy, Styx, and Foghat. Zimmer has acquired quite the fan club among professional drummers, drawing praise from many including Gregg Bissonette, former drummer for David Lee Roth. “Dean is a song drummer,” says Bissonette, “He’s just like Ringo (Starr) and many of my favorite drummers. He chooses to play the right parts of the song; not showboat.”

Zimmer is the definition of handicapable: His specific limitations actually enhance his ability as a drummer. Since his movement is so heavily restricted, Zimmer hits virtually the same spot of his drum every time, resulting in some of the tightest strike patterns in the industry. “Play from the heart, man,” says Zimmer in the video. “That’s about all I ever knew.”

Dean Zimmer is truly super-human. Not only did he overcome his disability, but he wrestled it to the ground and made it work for him. Today he puts his heart and soul into every song, every riff, and his passion can be heard loud and clear in his music. Take a page out of Dean’s book: be thankful for every day and never give up on your dreams. Find your passion, your “drum set”, and give it everything until you’ve found true happiness.

Check back every Monday for some much needed Motivation!

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