Friday Top: 25 Greatest Singing Drummers

As voted by UG community.

Ultimate Guitar
Friday Top: 25 Greatest Singing Drummers

This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the people of UG community discussing the matter of greatest singing drummers of all time.

Based on votes and around 200 comments, we summed this one up to Top 25 rundown.

NOTE: our list is centered around drummers who can play drums and sing at the same time, not around drummers-who-became-singers, so with all respect we haven't include Dave Grohl in the actual list (though he rarely did backing vocals while drumming with both Nirvana and Them Crooked Vultures).

Before kicking things off, the honorable mentions are:

  • Albert Bouchard (Blue Öyster Cult)
  • Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons)
  • Micky Dolenz (The Monkees)
  • Remu Aaltonen (Hurriganes)
  • Steven Ansell (Blood Red Shoes)
  • Coady Willis (Melvins, Big Business)
  • Mike Browning (Morbid Angel, Nocturnus)
  • Chris Reifert (Autopsy)
  • El Duce (The Mentors)
  • Greg Saunier (Deerhoof)
  • Fred LeBlanc (Cowboy Mouth)
  • Maya Tuttle (The Colourist)
  • Grant Hart (Hüsker Dü)
  • Bela B.
  • Carla Azar (Autolux)
  • Francis Mark (From Autumn to Ashes)
  • Duncan from Snuff (Snuff)
  • Phoenix Arn-Horn (Courage My Love)
  • Nick Gaffney (Cairo Knife Fight)
  • Jerry Gaskill (King's X)
  • John Garner (Sir Lord Baltimore)
  • Leo Margarit (Pain of Salvation)
  • Peter Hoorelbeke (Rare Earth)
  • Pat Torpey (Mr. Big)
  • Eric Carr (KISS)
  • Sheila E. (Prince)
  • Nao Kawakita (Maximum the Hormone)
  • Meg White (The White Stripes)
  • Nick D'Virgillio (Spock's Beard)
  • Barry Stern (Zoetrope)
  • Morgan Rose (Sevendust)
  • Stewart Copeland (The Police)
  • Dennis Wilson (The Beach Boys)
  • Stefanie Mannaerts (Brutus)
  • Jürgen "Ventor" Reil (Kreator)
  • Mark "Kram" Maher (Spiderbait)

And one more honorable mention - Rick Astley. You definitely know him as a vocalist, but his also a great drummer:

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And the actual rundown awaits below.

25. Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger)

Not only Keagy is a great drummer for Night Ranger, but he also sang lead vocals on several of their hits, such as "Sister Christian," "Sing Me Away" and "Sentimental Street."

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24. Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys)

As drummer for Brit world conquerers Arctic Monkeys, Matt Helders has amassed an army of fans. The most comprehensive backing vocalist of the band, his vocals have been featured on many of the group's songs.

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23. Donovan Melero (Hail the Sun)

Drummer and vocalist for the post-hardcore band Hail the Sun who also began performing vocals for a group called Sianvar in 2013.

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22. Dan Beehler (Exciter)

Vocalist and drummer Dan Beehler is sure an Exciter for his fans.

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21. Matt Cameron (Pearl Jam, Wellwater Conspiracy)

Matt Cameron laid the foundation for the nineties rock revolution, reconciling proggy technicality with overwhelming force of his vocals.

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20. Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt)

Brian Chippendale of an experimental noise rock duo Lightning Bolt combines his mad drumming and vocals, distorted through various effects. Chippendale also has used a Line 6 delay pedal to delay and repeat his vocals while drumming.

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19. Deen Castronovo (Journey, Bad English)

A drummer Deen Castronovo admitted that the idea of doing a whole album where he would be the featured vocalist was daunting, but everything turned out well in the end.

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18. Anderson .Paak

Anderson Paak is a singing, apping, drumming Grammy nominee who sings sings and raps amid the utopian grooves of 1970s soul and numerous other genres.

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17. Jen Ledger (Skillet)

This English drummer and co-vocalist for the American Christian rock and hard rock band Skillet does her job like a true rockstar.

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16. Buddy Miles (The Electric Flag, Band of Gypsys, Buddy Miles Express)

Buddy Miles played with a brisk, assertive, deeply funky attack and sang like a boss, which made him an apt partner for Hendrix. With his luxuriant Afro and his American-flag shirts, he was a prime mover in the psychedelic blues-rock of the late 1960s, not only with Hendrix but also as a founder, drummer and occasional lead singer for the Electric Flag.

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15. Brandon Saller (Atreyu)

Drummer and clean vocalist for Southern California metallers Atreyu does his job well.

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14. Peter Criss (KISS)

Gene Simmons remembers seeing Criss for the first time: "The drummer started to sing, and this Wilson Pickett-style voice came out of him. Paul and I said 'That's it, that's our drummer."

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13. Sebastien Grainger (Death From Above 1979)

Drummer Sebastien Grainger and bassist Jesse Keeler created a unique sound together that was bigger than most would ever expect from a bass-and-drums duo, equal parts noisy punk and fist-pumping dance-rock, but beyond easy categorization.

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12. Gil Moore (Triumph)

Underrated drummer as well as an underrated vocalist.

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11. Aaron Gillespie (Underoath)

Aaron Gillespie is the long-time drummer in Underoath, one of the most popular hardcore bands in the world. In early 2010 he also started his more melodic side project, The Almost, for which Gillespie fully handles the vocal duties.

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10. Karen Carpenter (The Carpenters)

Though her skills as a drummer are less known among drumming luminaries and peers, nevertheless, she is best known for her vocal performances.

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9. Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Flying Colors, Transatlantic, Adrenaline Mob)

Besides being a living drumming legend, Mike Portnoy also does backing vocals with many of his bands and projects.

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8. Levon Helm (The Band)

Levon Helm, The Band's legendary singing drummer, was a powerful figure. Bob Dylan said of Helm after his death, "one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation."

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7. Ringo Starr (The Beatles)

"Not even the best drummer in The Beatles" is actually really good singer overall.

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6. Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders)

Aside from drumming and singing in Foo Fighters, he also has his own side project called Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, in which he plays the drums and sings.

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5. The Rev (Avenged Sevenfold)

The Rev is one of the greatest singing drummers, and "A Piece of Heaven" and "Critical Acclaim" are a proof to that.

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4. Roger Taylor (Queen)

Although best known for his powerhouse role in Queen, Roger Taylor is much more than just a drummer confined to his kit.

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3. Don Henley (Eagles)

As a founding member of Eagles, a band that boasts five No. 1 singles, four No. 1 albums, numerous Grammy Awards and a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Don Henley ranks among the most important figures in modern American pop music.

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2. Brann Dailor (Mastodon)

Drummer, singer, and lyricist with the progressive metal band Mastodon who also founded the math metal group Lethargy. Brann can do drumming and sing at the same time really great!

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1. Phil Collins (Genesis)

You may hate him with the power of 100000000 suns, but you gotta admit that he's a really talented guy.

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That's all folks! Feel free to post other singing drummers in the comment section below. And we hope you enjoyed the top, stay tuned until next week for another WQ!

59 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Err Dave Grohl sang in Nirvana ?????
    Not so much when he first joined, but a lot of this performance has a LOT of vocals!
    don't worry, the list acknowledged that he "rarely sang backup for nirvana" AKA every song with multiple vocal parts on Nevermind/In Utero and every tour thereafter...
    Still, the question on wednesday asked for lead vocals. There are some backing vocs only on the list though, which is dumb.
    Marigold was Dave singing, sure it was just a B-Side, but he still drums quite a bit in other projects that I think he'd be included.
    Really? Don Brewer didn't even make it to honorable mention?
    Couldn't agree more my friend. Don also belts out some hard core lyrics on"Shinin On" and "Gimmie Shelter"... but you already knew that. GFR one of the best hard rock bands ever! IMHO.
    Shame Meg White didn't make the list :/ UG loves Meg White
    Nah you need to be able to play drums to make it to the list... maybe next time !
    Meg White is the most rocking-rollest drummer there is (possibly GOAT)
    That's true ! That's also why every drum machine is based on her signature move ! The legendary: "Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum Poum"
    No i dont have a gun.. .
    rape meeeee!!!
    Dave sang all of this Nirvana B-Side
    And also note Dave Grohl played drums and sang on the first 2 foo albums.
    Hey guys... You forgot a pretty big band Matt Cameron was in... And Karen Carpenter is probably the best singer on this list. I know she's probably not anybody's favorite because of the music she does, but I feel that should be acknowledged.
    Would've swapped Roger Taylor and Phil Collins since Roger almost always sang while drumming and Phil was a drummer who sang a little backup but stepped away from the kit to become a lead vocalist.  Good list though...
    The thing is that Phil Collins is way too good in drumming and singing. Roger Taylor is a mastermind with great voice, but in technique Collins is far superior.
    Love them both.  No argument that Phil was the overall better drummer and singer and that his drum parts were much more complex than Roger.  My point was in live performance Roger should get extra points for singing while playing drums whereas  Phil sang while others played drums (with rare exception like the end of Suppers Ready on the '76 tour with Bruford)
    That's also probably because Collins was playing stuff too complex in Genesis to properly sing over. Nick D'Virgillio was also good enough a singer to take over as lead vocalist of Spock's Beard, but he had to stop playing drums, and he's one of the best drummers of his generation, in order to do it.
    Where is Stevie Wonder?  I mean, I guess "Drumming Singer" would be more appropriate, but if Karen Carpenter and Don Henley are on here...   
    Dave Grohl sang backing vocals with Nirvana on Nevermind as well as on tour until pat joined the band in late 93/94. Shoulda still made the list.
    check out brutus, they're a young belgian post-hardcore/punk band with a female singer/drummer and she absolutely kills it live
    Gil Moore from Triumph is married to my grandparent's god-daughter. They seated me beside him at their 50th wedding anniversary because I liked rock and roll. I asked him what band he played in and he said Triumph, I hadn't heard of them at that time and told him how much I loved Rush. Went home, checked them out, and felt so damn stupid.....
    Dennis Wilson at all? Didn't get much of a chance during the Beach days but could give Joe Cocker a run for his money on Pacific Ocean Blue
    pretty cool to see king's x and autolux get a mention. matt cameron also did backing vocals in soundgarden, just as a little note to the above
    Im glad dave grohl was excluded from the list.I like foo fighters and hes a top bloke but as vocalist i dont think hes all that.His backing vocals on unplugged in new york were great but hes far too harsh to be classed as great vocalist.Just my opinion of course.
    I know I should know better than to expect anything resembling editing from UG, but a lot or this article was really bad. Not like "one funny typo" bad but like, garbled-syntax-hard-to-parse bad.
    Carla Azar should've been on the actual list... she's so good! If you're interested, listen to her songs with Autolux: Brainwasher, Reappearing, The Bouncing Wall, The Science of Imaginary Solutions, Asleep at the Trigger... all great songs.
    If you're going to include Portnoy (who I'd hardly call a singer) then you'd better at least put Morgan Rose from Sevendust in this list.
    The fact that all four of them sang in Queen is what gave them their signature choral vocals.