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The TOP 10 Greatest Drummers Of All Time

Published: Wed October 01, 2014  News Feed

Don't we all LOVE lists? Of course we do! And since drums is such an integral part of  most modern music, here's our choice of Top 10 Best Drummers ever! Check them out!

The Top 10 Greatest Drummers of All Time!

Drummers are often the most unappreciated members of a band, but we know just how important they are - the beat is at the heart of all great music! Of course, there have been many lists of "best drummers" but they usually only focus on one style or the other. As with anything to do with music, any list of  "better this" and "better that" always boils down to each one's opinions, but it's been a while since we've last seen a "best drummers" list anywhere, so we tried to make a list of drummers who've been not just great, but important and influential over the years. If you love drums, you should pay attention to what those guys did / do. Who's the greatest drummer ever? Well... here's our picks. Agree? Disagree? Let us know your opinions!

10) Mitch Mitchell

Often overlooked on most people's Top 10 lists, we've decided to include Mitchell, the other genius in the Jimi Hendrix Experience! Given Hendrix's star-quality and revolutionary playing style, it's easy to forget he didn't do it all alone - a lesser drummer would've spoiled many of his songs, especially live. But Mitch Mitchell lived up to the challenge and his drumming style perfectly matched with what Hendrix was doing on the guitar - it was exciting and explosive, too!

9) Dave Lombardo

Perhaps - or should we say definitely? - the best Heavy Metal drummer ever. Known for his innovative and aggressive playing style, Drummer World called him the "godfather of double bass". He played with such legendary bands as Fantomas and Slayer, and is certainly one of the most influential drummers alive today, having inspired many metal drummers all over the world. Explaining his two bass drums technique, he said: "when you hit the bass drum the head is still resonating. When you hit it in the same place right after that you kinda get a 'slapback' from the bass drum head hitting the other pedal. You're not letting them breathe."

8) Ringo Starr

What???? We can hear many drummers disapproving this choice. Sure, Ringo wasn't the most technical or flashiest of drummers, and John Lennon famously said Ringo wasn't even "the best drummer in the Beatles"... but that's unfair: his importance in rock'n'roll was actually immense. Ringo Starr was the first celebrity drummer of the rock'n'roll era. He was the drummer in the biggest band in the world, ever... thus, inspiring a whole new generation of kids to pick their drum-sticks and become drummers.

Many of your favourite drummers were probably one of those kids! Besides, he may not have been flashy, but was never sloppy. His playing was always concise, and precise, and also exactly what the Beatles' music needed - do you really think a flashier drummer would have benefited those songs? Probably not... would probably even get in the way of their tunes! Thus one of the lessons Ringo left to the world - that drumming should always serve the band, not overpower it.

7) Gene Kupra

He was the first star drummer, the drumming sound of the swing era. And he was wild, too! Whenever you see a drumming legend from the 60's or 70's, like Keith Moon, Ginger Baker et al, doing their solos, you can tell it's all clearly jazz-infused and not just a little bit inspired by Kupra, who'd even stand up and drum on an upright double bass:

6) Ginger Baker

Talking about the devil... you don't mess with Mr. Baker! He was one third of Cream, the band that invented the "power trio" concept and who've live performances were true duels of instruments: Eric Clapton's guitar vs Jack Bruce's bass vs Ginger Baker's drums. His long drum solos became stuff of legend, and he influenced some of the greatest drummers who came after: John Bonham, Neil Peart, Stewart Copeland and many others were indebted to him, who, despite suffering from arthritis, still carries on drumming to this day. One of the most versatile drummers ever, despite being crucial in inspiring heavy metal drumming, he also shined playing world music and jazz.

Of Baker, Neil Peart has said: "His playing was revolutionary – extrovert, primal and inventive. He set the bar for what rock drumming could be. Every rock drummer since has been influenced in some way by Ginger - even if they don't know it"

5) John Bonham

Bonham made Led Zeppelin groovy, added power and provided the perfect backbone for Led Zeppelin's sound. His drumming style was perfect for Led Zeppelin, and to this day one of the reasons they'll probably never reform for good - at their one-off reunion concert in 2007 , his son Jason did a tremendous job, but pretty much just trying to replicate what his dad did. After all, that's all he could hope to do: because John Bonham had a unique feel and power, so if you remove his unique personality, Led Zeppelin's sound become something else, less special... more than almost any other, Bonham showed how important and even subtle the influence of a drummer can be in a band.

4) Stewart Copeland

Coming up in an era when simplicity was the rule, Copeland brought reggae and jazz influences to the post-punk scene, and also re-introduced splash cymbals as an important element of the modern drummer's sound, after this traditional type of cymbal being all but forgotten in music since its heydays in the 1920's and 30's jazz music. Stewart Copeland's syncopated, poly-rhythmic style was unique and the stuff of pure genius.

3) Neil Peart

We know this choice is controversial. Because, according to a LOT of people, Neil Peart is and will always be Number One, the Best Drummer Ever! Fair enough! After all, since the Seventies, Peart has been awing audiences with his dazzling talent. He is known for his very creative playing, and awe-inspiring solos, such as this one:

Of the drummers alive TODAY, Neil Peart is certainly the best one, and the drummer who sets the standard for any drummer aspiring greatness.

2) Keith Moon

Keith Moon is the ultimate rock'n'roll drummer, and perhaps the first, or maybe only, true "lead drummer". Pete Townshend once said he just played rhythm parts really, whereas Keith Moon's drumming was the leading instrument in the songs. It was a revolutionary, influential and, still, perhaps misunderstood style: Keith Moon wasn't (just) showy - he was playing the way he did because he was leading the song, rather than simply providing a beat in the background. He also played with such a joy and showed how much fun a drummer could have - sitting back doesn't mean staying in the background! A wild, creative genius.

1) Buddy Rich

Buddy Rich was the one who led the way. He defined how drummers should play - gracefully, with intensity. He was inspiringly skilled, creative and technical. This true drum-hero is by far the most influential drummer ever - he literally inspired all of your favourite drummers - or, at least, you favourite drummer's favourite drummers! Even the mighty Gene Kupra admitted Buddy Rich was the best.

Rich was the king of drum solos - and every single drummer who ever did drum solos after is indebted to him. He was a hero to people like our #2, Keith Moon. The only reason anyone would today not recognize Buddy Rich as the best ever, is because he came from another era,  the days of jazz, and maybe this alienates some people. But had he been born a few decades later, there's no doubt he could've been an amazing rock'n'roll drummer, too!

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