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Top 10 Best Drummers of All Time

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Best Drummers of all Time
09 May, 2024

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Drummers have an essential role in music. From rock to jazz, drummers have the power to influence a band’s genre. Over the years, several drummers have taken over our hearts with their percussion skills.

This comprehensive guide covers the best drummers of all time, their journey through different bands and how they became talented and famous.

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Top 10 Drummers of All Time

1: John Bonham

John Bonham
An image credit example from a Rolling Stone
  • Born: May 31, 1948, Redditch, England
  • Genre: Hard rock, blues-rock, folk rock
  • Best Known for: “Moby Dick,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Kashmir”
  • Awards/ Accreditations:
    • No. 1 on Classic Rock’s 2005 list of 50 Greatest Drummers in Rock
    • Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995

John Bonham is considered one of the best drummers of all time. As a part of Led Zeppelin, he had the world of rock under the influence of his drums throughout the 1970s. Affectionately known as “Bonzo”, Bonham developed his drumming skills by playing along to records of jazz and blues legends like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa.

John Bonham’s signature use of bass drum pedals and fast double bass drumming techniques revolutionized rock drumming and influenced the coming generations of drummers. Bonham unexpectedly passed away in 1980, which was a huge loss for the world of rock music.

2: Keith Moon

Keith Moon
An image credit example from a Rolling Stone
  • Born: August 23, 1946, Wembley, London, United Kingdom
  • Genre: Rock art, rock hard, rock power pop
  • Best Known for: “Who’s Next”
  • Awards/ Accreditations:
    • The Who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and received Kennedy Center Honors in 2008.
    • NME awarded Keith Moon the award for “Best Drummer” in 1978.

Keith Moon from The Who is considered one of the most influential drummers of all time. Keith Moon was known for his eccentric style of drumming, which made The Who’s music electrifying. Moon’s drumming journey began with a diverse range of jazz and R&B influences. This versatile way of learning percussion made drumming easier to master for him.

His theatrical antics and unconventional drumming techniques gave rise to new era of experimentation in rock music. Despite his tragic death in 1978 and Keith Moon’s legacy continues to inspire generations of drummers to embrace innovation and ingenuity in rock music.

3: Ginger Baker

Ginger Baker
An image credit example from a BBC
  • Born: 19 August 1939, Lewisham, London, United Kingdom
  • Genre: Jazz fusion, heavy metal and world music
  • Best Known for: “Toad,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” and “White Room”
  • Awards/ Accreditations:
    • Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2016
    • He collaborated with Public Image Ltd and Masters of Reality, which shows how influential his impact in the rock industry was.

Ginger Baker was a pioneering drummer in rock music and was the founding member of Cream. His ability to fuse jazz and blues and rock elements created a signature sound that defined an era and inspired generations of musicians. Ginger Baker has clashed with his bandmates but his talent shined through Cream’s music. After Cream disbanded, Baker immersed himself in Afrobeat rhythms during his time in Nigeria. Ginger Baker died of COPD in 2013. His showmanship set new standards for drumming that will always stay with the coming musicians.

4: Neil Peart

Neil Peart
An image credit example from a Pitchfork
  • Born: 12 September 1952, Hamilton, Canada
  • Genre: Progressive metal, rock and hip-hop/rap
  • Work: Drummer for Rush, involved in “Xanadu” and “The Trees”
  • Best Known for: “Moving Pictures”
  • Awards/accreditations:
    • Inducted into the Hall of Fame by Modern Drummer in 1983
    • Officer of the Order of Canada in 1996
    • Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013
    • Induction into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2020

Neil Peart is often called one of best drummers of all time. His audition for Rush in 1974 impressed his bandmates, drawing parallels to the drumming style of Keith Moon. He had an expansive drum kit with acoustic drums, electronics and orchestral percussion.

Being also regarded as an influential lyricist with his contributions to Rush’s songs, Peart’s innovative drumming style inspired thousands of aspiring drummers to learn from his beats and fills. Neil Peart died of cancer in 2020, but his influence on rock drumming will always resonate with musicians.

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5: Hal Blaine

Hal Blaine
An image credit example from a The New Yorker
  • Born: 5 February 1929 in Holyoke, Massachusetts, United States
  • Genre: Rock
  • Best known for: “The Ronettes,” “Be My Baby,” and “Strangers in the Night”.
  • Awards/accreditations:
    • Six consecutive Grammy Award Record of the Year
    • Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame.
    • Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018

Hal Blaine is known as one of the most prolific session drummers in music history. He played an important role in shaping popular music from the 1960s. His breakthrough came when he moved to California and became part of the famed group of studio musicians known as “The Wrecking Crew”. Hal Blaine had innovative drumming techniques, including his use of fills and perfect timing, earned his popularity among his peers and fans. In 2019, Hal Blaine passed away at the age of 90.

6: Clyde Stubblefield and John “Jabo” Starks

Clyde Stubblefield and John “Jabo” Starks
An image credit example from a NPR
  • Born: Clyde Stubblefield- April 18, 1943, Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States; John Starks- October 26, 1937, Jackson, Alabama, United States
  • Genre: Blues, soul and jazz
  • Best Known for: “Funky Drummer” and “Cold Sweat”
  • Awards/accreditations:
    • Yamaha Legacy Award in 2013
    • Lifetime Achievement award at the Madison Area Music Awards in 2004.
    • Induction into the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Hall of Fame in 2000.

Clyde Stubblefield and John “Jabo” Starks were the drummers behind James Brown’s music. Renowned for their tight rhythms and infectious beats, Stubblefield and Starks revolutionised funk drumming with their innovative grooves and syncopated rhythms. Stubblefield and Starks blended elements of jazz and R&B and soul to create grooves that continue to inspire musicians worldwide.

7: Gene Krupa

Gene Krupa
An image credit example from a Udiscovermusic
  • Born: 5 January 1909, Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Genre: Jazz
  • Best Known for: “Sing, Sing and Sing”
  • Awards/accreditations:
    • Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1985
    • Awarded the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1996.
    • The first drummer inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1978.

Gene Krupa is regarded as the “Father of Modern Drumming”. Krupa’s innovative use of dynamics and accents and improvisation set the standard for future generations of jazz drummers, inspiring musicians like Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson. His influence helped popularise swing music and paved the way for the rise of big band jazz in the 1930s and 1940s. Krupa sadly passed away in 1973 at 64 years old.

8: Mitch Mitchell

Mitch Mitchell
An image credit example from a Irish Independent
  • Born: 9 July 1946, Ealing, London, United Kingdom
  • Genre: Alternative/Indie, Rock, Seasonal and Christian
  • Best Known for: “Purple Haze,” “Fire,” and “Manic Depression”
  • Awards/accreditations:
    • Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1992.
    • Induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2009.

Mitch Mitchell is considered underrated yet one of the best drummers of all time. He was an innovative drummer of the Jimi Hendrix Experience known for blending elements of jazz, rock and blues. Mitchell could easily transition between genres and incorporate complex fills and rhythms into his playing. Mitchell’s fast, driving, jazz-influenced playing landed him on the three best-selling Experience studio albums. At the age of 62, Mitch Mitchell passed away in 2008.

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9: Al Jackson Jr

Al Jackson Jr.
An image credit example from a Modern Drummer
  • Born: 27 November, 1935, Memphis, Tennessee, United States
  • Genre: R&B, funk, soul, Memphis soul
  • Best known for: “Soul Man” and “Dock of the Bay”
  • Awards/accreditations:
    • Induction into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015
    • Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Booker T. & the M.G.’ s in 1992.

Al Jackson Jr. is considered one of the most influential drummers in the history of soul music. He was a founding member of Booker T. & the M.G.’s and shaped the sound of countless soul and R&B classics, making him a masterful percussionist and a cornerstone of the Stax Records sound. He unexpectedly died in 1975, but Jackson’s legacy inspired many musicians in soul and R&B music.

10: Stewart Copeland

Stewart Copeland
An image credit example from a Wikipedia
  • Born: 16 July 1952 (age 71 years), Alexandria, Virginia, United States
  • Genre: Reggae, rock and hip-hop/rap
  • Best known for: “Roxanne” and “Every Breath You Take”.
  • Awards/accreditations:
    • Copeland was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Police in 2003.
    • He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2005
    • He was inducted into the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013.
    • In 2007, the French government appointed Copeland a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Stewart Copeland is known as one of the best drummers in rock and new wave music. He began playing drums at a young age and developed a passion for music. He played drums with English rock band Curved Air from 1975 to 1976. He then became a part of The Police and helped shape the sound of the late 1970s and 1980s. He used syncopated rhythms, polyrhythms and hi-hat patterns while drumming for the Police.

FAQs

Who are considered the best drummers of all time?

  1. John Bonham
  2. Keith Moon
  3. Ginger Baker
  4. Neil Peart
  5. Hal Blaine
  6. Clyde Stubblefield
  7. Gene Krupa
  8. Mitch Mitchell
  9. Al Jackson Jr
  10. Stewart Copeland

Who is considered the greatest drummer of all time?

John Bonham, Nеil Peart and Ginger Baker are often mentioned among thе grеаtеst drummers of all time by many.

Who is the most technically skilled drummer?

Nеil Pеart is oftеn regarded as one of thе most technically skilled drummers duе to his prеcisе and intricatе drumming stylе. His work for Rush received widespread acclaim because of his near-perfect rhythmic drumming skills through concerts and on record.

Who is the father of modern drumming?

Gеnе Krupa is referred to as thе “Fathеr of Modеrn Drumming” for his contributions to jazz drumming, including his innovativе usе of dynamics, accеnts and improvisation, which sеt thе standard for futurе gеnеrations of drummеrs.

Who is the fastest drummer of all time?

Tom Grossеt and Sеth David are considered thе fastеst drummеrs of all timе with world records of 1208 Strokеs in 50 seconds and 1200 Strokes in 60 seconds respectively.

Why is Neil Peart considered the best drummer?

Nеil Pеart is considered one of thе bеst drummеrs duе to his exceptional talent, innovativе drumming stylе and contributions to the gеnrе of rock music. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame. The Canadian government also made him an Officer of the Order of Canada, one of Canada’s highest civilian awards.

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