Top 10 Rhythm Sections in Rock

Check out 10 best groove makers in the history of rock and metal.

Ultimate Guitar

Rock magic simply cannot be fully delivered without the proper foundation laid by the groove-making machine called the rhythm section.

Consisting of a bassist and a drummer, the section has an important task of making sure that the tune's in time and grooving like it should be. So this week, by readers' request, we decided to delve into the matter of the best rhythm section in the history of rock and metal. You guys came up with some quite interesting answers, check out the final result below.

10. Meshuggah

Being a steaming groove factory, Meshuggah reached the list with drummer Tomas Hakke and not one, or two, but each of the four bassist featured in the band's lineup so far, including axeman Fredrik Thordendal at one point.

9. Keith Moon and John Entwistle (The Who)

Both rocking out in heaven, drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle of the Who changed the way their respective instruments are perceived almost five decades ago. Moon's hectic skin bashing and Entwistle's frantic strumming were truly a sight to see. The clip below doesn't feature Mr. Moon, but might as well be one of the greatest bass solos of all time.

8. Primus

Fully based on groove, Primus made the list mostly thanks to Les Claypool's dizzying bass skills. However, the rest of the band isn't that far behind.

7. Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor (Tool)

Tool's rhythm section is possibly the most technically advanced and unique groove duo in the history of rock, so Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor pretty much had a guaranteed spot on the list.

6. Neil Peart and Geddy Lee (Rush)

Another progressive duo, wall-crushing Neil Peart and high-pitched, slightly overdriven Geddy Lee make up a big chunk of that magic needed to create the signature Rush vibe.

5. Steve Harris and Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)

Iron Maiden might feature three guitarists in their lineup, but the groove Steve Harris and Nicko McBrain deliver will somehow always be on par with what the guitar leads are doing at the moment.

4. Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine)

RATM's Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk bring us a step closer to the big Top 3 with some of the tightest performances rock has ever seen.

3. Bill Ward and Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath)

We're in the giants domain now, delving into the work of unpredictable Bill Ward and possibly the greatest bassist in the history of metal - Mr. Geezer Butler. Add Tony Iommi's monster riffs and you've got yourself quite a mixture.

2. Flea and Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

RHCP is all about the groove, and hearing Chad Smith and Flea doing their thing is simply bound to get your head bopping, whether you like it or not.

1. John Bonham and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)

Finally, the true greats, the one and only John Bonham and equally crucial John Paul Jones. Led Zeppelin's rhythm section changed the game for good back in the day, earning them the title of the best rhythm section of all time.

That about wraps it up for this week, let us know what do you think of the list in the comments. Think somebody might be missing? Myung and Portnoy? Rex and Vinnie? Yes? No?

154 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Holy sh*t, that RHCP video, newfound respect for those guys. They just "fly" with the groove, and it is fantastic to see just how fast does Chad adapt to Flea.Great list!
    I tried that bit about the bass pedal despite Chad's warning. I'm writing this from the hospital.
    I will always respect bands such as rush, the who, black sabbath, etc. These guys are in their 60's nearly still manage to perform to such a high standard. great muscians.
    I think if there was album you should check out it should be One Hot Minute, the bass and drum work is amazing.
    that truly was a thing of beauty! I'm still not sure if that is Chad Smith or Will Ferrell...
    ...Nicko McBrain didn't play on "Run to the Hills"
    Good point, though I still reckon he fully merits a place on this list. Unreal when witnessed live. Up the Irons!
    Jack Bruce / Ginger Baker.
    lailaa.lailaa.5 · Apr 06, 2014 06:58 PM
    gleir.gleir · Apr 05, 2014 05:20 PM
    No one but Entwistle could play something that spectacular whilst looking so mind numbingly bored.
    You haven't seen later Zeppelin gigs. Watch JPJ play keyboards or even bass at points. He doesn't even seem like he wants to be there.
    I know Hendrix overshadowed these guys but I think they should be mentioned Noel Redding/Billie Cox and Mitch Mitchell/Buddy Miles. Maybe not top ten but atleast honorable mention
    I'm upset to see no Rex Brown and Vinnie Paul
    All of those drummers probably count John Bonham as a major influence on them, so he is rightfully at the top of the list with, in my opinion the greatest bassist ever.
    Coming first =/= best. Being the most popular =/= best. Being in Led Zeppelin =/= best. Having a funny nickname ("Bonzo") =/= best. Should they be on the list? Definitely. #1? Debatable.
    None of those reasons are why they are considered one of the best rhythm sections of all time. Listen to their music and then decide for yourself. Its hilarious how butt hurt people on this site get over Led Zeppelin.
    I'm not "butthurt". Just voicing my opinion. I have listened to their music quite a bit, and I have made my decision based on that. My decision is that they are a tad too high.
    Agreed. They're a great rhythm section but I certainly can think of better that weren't included or better on the list. (eg. Malcolm Young and Phil Rudd)
    I thought about nominating Portnoy by himself since his drumming dominated DT so much for so long, with Myung barely audible in the background.
    Would've liked to see a Radiohead mention but I can live with the list.
    Colin is a fantastis bass aplayed but Phil's lack of feeling in his drums play is obvious. I think that Clive Deamer should replace him
    Sure he's not the most emotive drummer but matched with Colin they do a fantastic job at keeping the grooves of the band.