Top Ten Drummers Of All Time

A music website has listen the top drummers of all time. But did they get it right? See the run down and video drum solos here to decide.

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Music news website Gigwise recently came up with their list of the top 50 drummers of all time - but did they get it right? Here, we'll be rounding up their top ten. Let's see if UG readers think they pulled it off.

First, a little on the history of modern rock drumming.

Traditionally, the bass drum, snare drum, cymbals and various percussion instruments were played by hand by individual people, just like you see in a military setting. It wasn't till around 1890 that experimentation with foot pedals began. In 1909, the Ludwig family started a drum company and patented the drum pedal system.

By the 1930s, the beginning of the modern rock drum kit were visible with four piece kits being put into production, comprised of a bass, snare, and two tom-toms.

You might think a double-bass setup was a relatively recent development, but this was first attempted in the 1940s by Louie Bellson - though it's unlikely the pedals allowed for Joey Jordison style machine gun speeds.

The real turning point for drums in the eyes of music fans was when Ringo Starr played his Ludwig kit in front of millions on television, inspiring a generation to pick up the sticks themselves.

By the 1980s, extravagant kits with a huge number of drums and cymbals arrived, some including electronic pads which triggered sample sounds, before a return in the 1990s to simpler drum set ups when independent bands came to prominence.

That's the history - but who are the best of all time, in the opinion of Gigwise?

Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa, UK, Missing Persons, HoBoLeMa, Jeff Beck, Korn, Fantmas, Debbie Harry)

Best known for performing with Frank Zappa, Terry is an example of one of those who were inspired by Ringo Starr to learn how to play when he was 13. Since then he's worked with a dizzying number of bands, even stepping in for Korn's 8th studio album. Today he plays in HoBoLeMa.

Phil Collins (Genesis, Brand X, Flaming Youth, Philip Bailey, Eric Clapton, The Phil Collins Big Band)

Phil played one of the most iconic drum beats of all time for "In The Air Tonight", but the classic room sound was a complete accident. At the time, the talkback mic on the mixing desk (which lets engineers speak through the glass to musicians) picked up the drum sound and by chance, sounded great. The engineers wired it up to record, and "gated drums" became a popular production technique throughout the 80s.

Gene Krupa (Eddie Condon, Benny Goodman, Louie Bellson, Anita O'Day)

Born in 1909, Gene was one of the first drummers to influence a further generation thanks to his fast performance abilities, with both John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) and Keith Moon (The Who) citing him as an influence.

Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Asia)

One of the most respected drummers to emerge from the 1960s, Palmer was among the first truely progressive drummers and became one of the first to be inducted into the Modern Drummer Magazine hall of fame.

Rick Allen (Def Leppard)

Rick famously continued drumming after having his arm amputated following a car accident, but he stuck to his craft and made a comeback in 1986 with an impressive performance at the Donington "Monsters Of Rock" show.

Buddy Rich (Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra)

Buddy was the second-best paid entertainer of his time, and kept time for some of the biggest jazz stars of the day. He's also known for being one of the first drummers to perfect the one-handed drum roll on both hands.

Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins, Zwan, Skysaw)

He might have started as a jazz drummer, but when he joined the 90s metal outfit Smashing Pumpkins he certainly learned to hit hard. He was part of the reformed Smashing Pumpkins lineup when they regrouped in 2005, but left again in 2009. He now plays with the band Skysaw.

Neil Peart (Rush, Buddy Rich Big Band)

Neil joined Rush in 1974, having been inspired by British rock drummers such as Keith Moon and John Bonham, before learning about older big band and jazz drummers like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. He famously built a respectable "360" drum kit, and enjoys a travel writing hobby.

Danny Carey (Tool)

Yet another pro who began as a jazz drummer in his youth. By the time he was at university, Danny took an interest in the occult and began to apply the rules of geometry to his drum beats - a technique which still features with Tool today. The album "Lateralus", for example, centres around use of the Fibonacci sequence.

Keith Moon (The Who)

Keith was one of the drummer to give rock music a hedonistic name. A wild party guy and drummer, Keith and his band were one of the first to smash up their instruments on stage - a "technique" emulated by generations of musicians since. He had a hobby of flushing explosives down toilets, leaving him banned by a score of hotel chains around the world.

John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)

It'll be hard to argue with this one. John often tops "best drummer of all time" lists, and it's well earned. One paragraph wouldn't do justice to his ability or history, but it was certainly a tragic day when he drank more than fourty shots of vodka and choked to death on his own vomit. John inspired an entire era of rock drumming, and his son Jason followed his footsteps when he performed for Led Zeppelin during their reunion show in 2007.

Not a bad list by any means - but can UG readers do better? Share your reaction in the comments.

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498 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    ctfod
    Got to say it's better to see a list with drummers worth their own salt rather than a list of drummers from the most popular bands (which would have included Ringo, Lars, etc).
    MoonWise
    Bmguy wrote: what group is he from (Copeland)
    The Police. Any best-drummers list without Deep Purple's Ian Paice is a throwaway.
    Pagan_Poetry
    I came here expecting a big upset. I left feeling satisfied. I have personal favorites not on this list, but I actually wouldn't take any of the drummers off the list to replace them. Well done.
    Ruzaldeen
    where the hell is jimmy 'the 'rev' sullivan. i'm a little bit disappointed with this list .
    Horsedick.MPEG
    Whiteboy_az wrote: 90s metal outfit Smashing Pumpkins WTF? Is this a joke? They were pop-grunge at best, don't get me wrong, I like listening to some SP every once in a while, but they certainly are NOT metal.
    Not even Grunge, they were dream pop
    spoksbeard
    Its easy to say 'this person should be on it' but I think the list mostly thinks of who is more influential, so its quite accurate in that way
    Bmguy
    You're right great list...could have been better with Dave Grohl and Shawn Drover
    chops96
    I actually quite liked this list, yet I would have liked to see Dave Grohl on here simply because he was such a powerful drummer. But yeah a great list.
    RutvikGuitar
    Rick Allen??Really?? Would I rather have him over Dave Lombardo or Portnoy?? And where are Jazz drummers of Yester years??
    Nameless742
    When asked if Ringo was the best drummer in the world, John Lennon quipped: Hes not even the best drummer in The Beatles. haha
    Whiteboy_az
    90s metal outfit Smashing Pumpkins
    WTF? Is this a joke? They were pop-grunge at best, don't get me wrong, I like listening to some SP every once in a while, but they certainly are NOT metal.
    GenerationKILL
    motoxer09 wrote: Jordison, J Sullivan, and Ulrich deserve to be on this list
    Jordison and Ulrich DO NOT deserve to be on this list. Dave Lombardo does and hes the only METAL drummer worth listing on a top 10 of drummers. Sorry.
    connor494
    Pretty good list would have liked to have seen dave grohl somewhere up there but they are all amazing drummers so cant complain
    naw2
    We can't have what we want. I personally would have put Mike Portnoy up there but since I am not actually a drummer I can't really comment.
    Whiteboy_az
    Wow.....A "greatest" list that actually makes sense, never thought I'd see one of those on UG.
    blommen
    was very happy with the list, then checked the complete one... and they've put Lars Ulrich in the top 15..... smh
    Lion_Slicer
    Pretty good, definitely agree with many of the choices. I think Brann Dailor from Mastodon is on his way up there too. Dude is an absolute monster.
    ToolCreedence
    Dakkstar wrote: Danny Carey is overrated.
    I think he is underrated. He's arguably one of the best drummers of all time and I'm guessing that 9 out of 10 people on the street couldn't tell you what band Danny Carey plays for.
    swilcox26
    No love for Carter Beauford... I would probably replace allen & chamberlain and second the vote on Blakley but this list is better than the one I saw earlier this year, I think in Drum Magazine..
    Zyth
    Honestly people? in the article it said it was 50 person list, this was just the top 10. Grohl is at 16 Lars at 14 and Copeland is 12, there are a lot of drummers out there if you actually look at the list you might find your favourites too.
    mulletman619
    mlukeroberts222 wrote: Chamberlain...really?
    what? hes a very underrated drummer, same for Brann Dailor
    Anty 7
    Virgil Donati!!!! But yeah, I usually hate lists and this one is actually okay.
    Metallica8
    Dave Grohl, The Rev, Lars Ulrich (just because of his influence to metal), and portnoy should be on there.
    mccreadyfan01
    swilcox26 wrote: No love for Carter Beauford... I would probably replace allen & chamberlain and second the vote on Blakley but this list is better than the one I saw earlier this year, I think in Drum Magazine..
    i wanted beauford on the list. one of the best drummers i've ever heard, and the best i've seen live.
    ZWH
    This was a pretty decent list. I'd personally put Ian Paice up there though.
    Skullivan
    Not too fond of drummers, I do appreciate Neil Peart though, fantastic drummer.
    vandinroth
    a few questionable drummers on there. Rick allen for one. Seems to be there just as a pity vote. Roger taylor should be on there.
    pwninator123
    Whiteboy_az wrote: 90s metal outfit Smashing Pumpkins WTF? Is this a joke? They were pop-grunge at best, don't get me wrong, I like listening to some SP every once in a while, but they certainly are NOT metal.
    Their first album, Gish, is considered Heavy Metal and every once in a while they release a song like Tales Of A Scorched Earth which is undeniably Metal.
    rokkit
    What about Hannes Grossmann, George Kollias, Inferno, John Longstreth? Come on people
    LostAtTheStart
    BradleyyJohn wrote: Like to have seen Joey Jordison, Dave Grohl, Chris Adler and Brann Dailor..
    one big like from me to your comment... was thinking the same.... taking out the last one you mentioned, I don't know him...
    Filipus
    VEry cool list for the simple fact that i would take any1 out but add some.