Who is Nandi Bushell? The drummer aged 11 who has rock stars for fans

The British-Zulu musician and internet celebrity performed live with the Foo Fighters, and helped to bring their 1997 song 'Everlong' back to the charts

Drummer and internet celebrity Nandi Bushell performed live with the Foo Fighters and has also made fans out of Lenny Kravitz, Arctic Monkeys and Metallica. Getty Images
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At only 11, Nandi Bushell has already become the rock stars' rock star.

The precocious drumming skills of the British-Zulu musician have caught the attention of everyone from Tom Morello to Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, making her somewhat of an internet celebrity.

She has more than 850,000 followers on Instagram alone.

The prodigy even helped to bring the Foo Fighters' song Everlong back into the charts, 24 years after its release, and performed the post-grunge classic live with the band last month.

Bushell made clear her intentions of performing with the Foo Fighters last year, challenging frontman Dave Grohl to a drum battle on social media, to which he obliged. The clip took the internet by storm.

“This kid is a force of nature,” the former Nirvana drummer told Stephen Colbert in November. “She’s an amazing drummer.

“I thought I’d play something simple and send it to her. One day later she comes back with her response and she just wipes the floor … she kicked my butt. And she did it over and over again. Sometimes you just have to concede defeat.”

Grohl was so impressed that the band invited her to conclude their concert at The Forum in Los Angeles on August 26.

Together, they performed Everlong, which has now stormed back into the charts, reaching number 19 on Billboard's Hot Rock and Alternative Songs Chart, number two on the Hot Hard Rock Songs Chart, and number 17 in the Hot Alternative Songs Chart.

So who is the girl who has stumped one of the greatest musicians in hard rock history?

Who is Nandi Bushell?

Born on April 28, 2010 in Durban, South Africa, Bushell moved with her family to the UK at a young age.

She lives in the port town of Ipswich with her parents, John and Lungile, and her younger brother, Thomas.

Bushell’s instinctive grasp of rhythm became evident when she was only 5. John had played a YouTube video of The Beatles song Hey Jude and Bushell became spellbound by Ringo Starr’s drumming and started thumping along.

“Nandi would just have that on repeat,” John told Variety magazine in February. “Something must have triggered in her mind that drums make you happy, from that video. That’s the only thing that I can kind of rationalise.”

A few weeks later, Bushell’s father wanted to reward her after she scored highly on a maths test, so he took her to a toy shop.

But Bushell did not want a toy, she wanted a drum set. “We couldn’t get her off it,” John said. “It became a little bit of an obsession.”

It did not take long for Bushell to hone her skills, flipping drum sticks mid-beat.

Within five short years, she had fans such as Lenny Kravitz, Arctic Monkeys and Metallica, and built an Instagram page that is like a rock and roll hall of fame.

She has since begun playing other instruments including the guitar, but the drums remain her prime musical focus.

In the same interview with Variety, Bushell said playing the drums made her feel “happy, excited, hyped … like I can take over the world.”

She also plans to start a band one day, which she would name Titan – after her favourite TV show, Teen Titans.

“If I write a song every month, then I can make an album,” she said. “And then when I’m 12, I can release the album, and then write more songs in the meantime to wait for my album to go platinum.

"And when my album goes platinum, when I’m 14, I’m going to tour the world.”

Updated: September 12, 2021, 8:11 PM