Fist fights have broken out over the question of who is the greatest drummer in history. The peacemaker in such a situation is the person wise enough to suggest that such an accolade could only belong to the character of Animal on the Muppet Show, whose beastly drumming style seems an amalgam of Buddy Rich's tom-tom solos, Muhammed Ali's punching skills and the unloading of a lumber truck. Real people are standing behind these puppets, even the musical ones, a fact that some Muppetheads way not want to admit but a fact that establishes Ronnie Verrell as the greatest drummer ever. Ronnie Verrell, after all, was Animal and every drum beat the furry beast played came directly from the sticks held in Verrell's hands.
Verrell, whose recording credits began flowing in the '60s, has been identified as a jazz or dance band drummer, a background that could certainly lead to the attention span and reading chops necessary to pull off a television variety show, even one with a large cast of pigs with bad attitudes. He could just as easily be identified as a rock session man, showing up on efforts by The Strawbs from 1969 and most likely in an uncredited capacity elsewhere as well. While hardly as stimulating as an evening with Gonzo and Miss Piggy, Verrell's background as a swinger included working with outfits such as the Ted Heath Band and Jack Parnell's Orchestra. He was also featured as the drummer on the Frank Skinner Show!, a British television series that allowed the drummer to show his own face rather than hiding behind
Animal's more attractive visage. Verrell's death was the result of his falling down the stairs at home; he developed a chest infection during the outset of an operation intended to fix a crushed vertebrae.