Bloc Party's drummer is latest casualty of toughest job in rock

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The Independent Culture

From Keith Moon of The Who to John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, the history of rock is replete with tales of drummers who lived life on the edge. The latest example appears to be Matt Tong, of Bloc Party, who is being treatedfor a collapsed lung after becoming unwell during a performance in the United States.

Tong, 27, was taken to hospital shortly after leaving the stage in Atlanta, Georgia, where the band were performing with a fellow British group, Panic! At the Disco, as part of a US tour. Doctors say he is in a comfortable condition and not in any danger but cannot be moved and has to remain in hospital for at least three days.

Tong is the latest in a series of drummers who have been taken to hospital after suffering from health problems, which have a tendency to affect rock and pop drummers more than other musicians, often because of the sheer physical demands on the job.

There is no suggestion of drink or drugs being involved with Tong's condition but his drumming style has been described as "very physical" and "quite mad", firmly classing him in a tradition of drummers such as Moon of and Bonham, both of whom succumbed to drink and drugs problems.

As a result of his illness, Bloc Party, whose music is described as "post-punk revival" have been forced to cancel a number of forthcoming shows, including two sold-out dates at New York's Madison Square Garden next week. They were only three dates into the four-week tour and it remains uncertain whether they will be able to complete it.

A spokeswoman for the band said Tong may have suffered the injury while drumming. "Matt is known for his energetic drumming style," she said.

"He can be quite mad. Everyone is very worried about him and it's not clear at this stage when he will be fit to resume performing. We will not really know until next week."

She said there were no clues yet as to why he had suffered a collapsed lung. "He hasn't been ill or anything; it just seems to be one of those things.''

His wife, Brooke, is understood to be at his bedside.

The band are considered rising stars of the British music scene. Their debut album Silent Alarm, earned a Mercury Music Prize nomination in 2005 and they have released several singles.

Their music has featured in the BBC's Wimbledon coverage, advertising campaigns and on the soundtrack to the film The Wedding Crashers, as well as episodes of the television dramas CSI:NY and The OC.

It is not known if Tong's illness will affect the release of the group's second album, which is due out in February next year on V2 records.

A drummer since he was 16, Tong, who was born in Bourne-mouth, was the last member of the band to join and has a degree in music technology.

Problems such as repetitive strain injury and carpel tunnel syndrome, a paralysing condition of the wrist and hands, are increasingly common among drummers. Earlier this year, Sam Fogarino, the drummer with the American group Interpol was treated in hospital after losing the feeling in his arm during a gig in Bologna, Italy. He was diagnosed with a stressed nerve. Another US group, Nine Inch Nails, had to replace their drummer Jerome Dillon after he fell ill with heart problems last year.

Victims who kept the beat

* Jim Gordon, the highly regarded session drummer who co-wrote 'Layla' with Eric Clapton, developed acute paranoid schizophrenia and killed his mother in 1983.

* Keith Moon was famed for drinking sessions with Oliver Reed, his addiction to pills and driving Bentleys into pools. He died in September 1978, with 32 types of pill inside him.

* Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, a copious consumer of drugs and alcohol, was famed for trashing hotel rooms. When he died in 1980 he had drunk four quadruple vodkas for breakfast.

* Ginger Baker, of Cream, played the 16-minute drum solo, 'Toad', on Wheels of Fire. But for 20 years he was a heroin addict.

* Richard Manual of The Band, Bob Dylan's backing group, often consumed eight bottles of Grand Marnier a day. He hanged himself in 1986, cocaine at his side.