What Happened When Blink-182’s Travis Barker Taught Rihanna to Drum

Rihanna and Blink-182 are very different artists, but RiRi has collaborated with Blink-182’s Travis Barker on a few occasions. Barker even taught Rihanna to play the drums. Here’s what Barker had to say about her drumming ability.

Rihanna wearing a dress
Rihanna |ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

The time Travis Barker of Blink-182 remixed one of Rihanna’s most famous hits

“Umbrella” remains one of Rihanna’s most iconic hits and it’s been remixed numerous times. Remixes are generally associated with electronic musicians but Barker showed the world he could create a good remix as well. His version of “Umbrella” turns the drum-laden R&B track into more of a hard rock song. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Barker explained his attitude toward remixing songs.

“[A]ny remix that gets thrown to me, I have to love the song enough to make a video for it,” Barker said. “I turned down some things I don’t think are me, that I don’t think my drums will lend a helping hand to. Figuring out where there aren’t a lot of dynamics on a song, that’s one of my strengths.” Barker released remixes of several popular songs, including Wale’s “G Told Me,” Busta Rhymes’ “Don’t Touch Me (Throw Da Water on ‘Em),” and the Game’s “Dope Boys.” In addition to crafting a remix of her song “Umbrella,” Barker worked with Rihanna by appearing in one of her music videos.

The Travis Barker remix of Rihanna’s “Umbrella”

The time Travis Barker appeared in a video for a song by Rihanna and Slash of Guns N’ Roses

“Rockstar 101” is a Rihanna song featuring Slash of Guns N’ Roses. Oddly enough, Slash doesn’t appear in the video — although Rihanna does dress up like him in it. However, Barker can briefly be glimpsed playing the drums in the video. This is very interesting considering how Slash and Barker, despite being rock musicians, make very different music. In addition to playing the drums for Rihanna, Barker taught Rihanna to play the drums.

When RiRi learned to play the drums

“[Rihanna] called me up and said she wanted to play drums during her live show and asked if I would teach her,” Barker told NME. “She’s just so cool. Not needy, not too girly, she’s obviously Rihanna and she’s beautiful and she’s talented but she was a f*cking good drummer too, like she caught on so quick; it was a trip. There is a YouTube video of me showing her and she picks up real quick but then fast forward to a month later when I saw a recording of a show and she killed it.” 

Travis Barker wearing a hat
Travis Barker | Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

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Rihanna told NBC Philadelphia drumming was a difficult task, however, Barker was a good teacher, She said he made difficult concepts easy to understand. Learning to play the drums made her realize she had some work to do to improve her coordination. Barker working with Rihanna is the sort of oddball pairing that’s sure to find a place in the music history books.