Meehan died Monday after falling at home, The Shadows guitarist Bruce Welch told the BBC Tuesday.
"Drummers wanted to be like Tony Meehan as he played in a style that no-one had done before," Welch said. "'Apache' was such an iconic record. It has been sampled a lot by hip-hop groups."
Former Shadow Cliff Richard said he was "shocked" by his drummer's death.
"His innovative drumming was the backbone of the band, and his aggressive yet sparse style was similar to Ringo Starr's five years later with The Beatles," Richard said.
The Shadows had several No. 1 hits in Britain including "Apache," "Living Doll," "Please Don't Tease," Travellin' Light" and "I Love You."
After leaving The Shadows, Meehan scored another No. 1 hit with "Diamonds," the BBC said.
The drummer is survived by his wife and seven children.