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The Top 10 Drum Legends and their Drum Kits

Updated on August 23, 2017

The top 10 Drummers and their kits

As a drummer, and I think a pretty good one, I look at these guys and recognise that these are special, not just great but special, gifted and most of all musical. Drumming is about more than cracking out a rhythm, there has to be swing and there really has to a musicality about the playing. All that and a bit of grove and you've cracked it. The drummers featured here, I believe are the top 10 drummers in the world. Of course this is a subjective opinion, they happen to be my top 10. I love to know yours...

I also love the kits these guys use, they are from different manufacturers, all with differing configurations but all beautiful in their own way. The kit shown above is a classic set up from Neil Peart, drummer with Canadian progressive rock band Rush. This guy, like all the drummers I have featured in this lens were a massive influence on me as I grew up. They were the inspiration to me as I developed as a drummer.

I've only just started this lens, so bear with me as I up-date with the other incredible drummers who have made my top 10!

10. Lars Ulrich


I start off my top 10 with Lars Ulrich. I think the only reason he is in tenth place is purely because he is a new boy, and I'm an old git!!!

I've seen Metallica Live a few times, my fondest memory was a few tears ago now, but they played "Master of Puppets" and I just watched Lars drumming all the way through and loved every minute of it.

Lars Ulrich Drum Solo - Lars Ulrich Drum Solo From The Live Shit Binge and Purge dvd

Lars Ulrich Drum Set Up

This is the classic Lars Ulrich set up and one I understand. This is very near my own set up, mind you, I've tried a few in my time!

9. Cozy Powell

Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, Jeff Beck Group

Cozy was the backbone behind 2 of my favorite old rock bands, Rainbow and MSG. If you listen to Stargazer from the "Rainbow Rising" album for instance you will hear some of the best Rock drums ever.

Cozy Powell Drum Solo

Cozy Powell Drum Set Up

Classic 1981

This is the classic set up Cozy had for years

8 Bill Ward

Black Sabbath

I remember back when I first started playing drums and playing in a teenage band called "Severed Head" (Stop sniggering in the the back) I was expected by my fellow band members to play just like Bill Ward. We were all massive Sabbath fans. Needless to say, I was just not good enough, but I soldiered through.

Bill Ward was the first drummer I tried to play like and even today, when I'm in rehearsal the thought goes through my mind "What would Bill Ward do here?"

Bill Ward Drum Solo 1978

Bill Ward Drum Kit

Bill's drumkit on the Reunion 99 Tour

Bill Ward's kit started off as a classic 4 and 5 piece kit and grew into a bit of a monster double bass drum set up in the 80's only to slim down again when he realised he actually didn't need them all!!

7 Scott Travis

Judas Priest

Scott Travis has been one of the longest serving drummers for Judas Priest, who never seemed to keep a drummer for more than an album or two. This guy has some amazing double bass drum work. I have included the video for Painkiller, one because I love the song and two, because of the drum intro...

Scott Travis - Drums - Painkiller Live

This video was taken by me at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2004 if you like it then get over to my blog where I have loads more JP vids

Scott Travis Drum Set Up

Solid Double Bass

Classic metal kit, 2 bass drums and 2 toms in the middle. This is Travis touring kit with Judas priest.

6, Ian Paice

Deep Purple

Ian Paice, drummer with heavy rock band Deep Purple.

Purple have seen numerous line up changes throughout their long career, but he is the only drummer the band has had, playing on a whole string of million-selling albums.

Between 1973 to 76 Deep Purple were one of the biggest rock band in the world. Ian come from generation of drummers who brought a tight, precise, clean crisp sound taking the best from their predecessors and adding power.

Ian Paice - The Mule - drum solo

Ian Paice Drum Set Up


Ian's drum set up was classic and simple, never on for a huge kit, just the basics but boy could he swing.

5 Alan White


Taking over from Bill Bruford was a hard task, but Alan White was up to the challenge. In fact in some ways I preferred him in Yes, he seemed to settle the music and on the albums where he could make the tracks his own, I think he provided a solid rock backbone for Yes as opposed to the jazzier style of Bruford.

Alan White Drum Solo - 1998

An amazing drum solo performed by Alan White during the classic 'Whitefish' duet with Chris Squire.

4. Bill Bruford

Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, UK, Earthworks

When I started to get into drum rudiments, a drumming coach asked me what sort of music I liked, I told him "mainly Metal" and his heart sank. Then I said I liked progressive rock, Genesis, Yes and ELP. He brightened and said "OK, listen to Bill Bruford" so I did, and boy am I glad I did!

Bill Bruford Drum Solo

3. Phil Collins

Genesis, Brand X

To my mind these two drummers compliment each other perfectly, Apart from anything else, I believe, Phil Collins is one of the most musical drummers I have ever heard. His early work with Genesis not only provided a solid framework for the music, it brought the music alive.

When Peter Gabriel left in 75, Phil Collins took over the vocal role but still carried on with the dumming duties on all the albums. Do yourselves a favor and revisit both "Trick of the Tail" and "Wind and Wuthering" and just listen to the drumming, outstanding!

Phil Collins - Drum Duet - Drum duet with Chester Thompson.

There are so many versions to choose from from these two incredible drummers. Phil Collins and Chester Thompson perform a flawless drum duet. Drum War at Genesis. This was taken from the Mama Tour.

Phil Collins Drum set up

This is the typical drum set up Phil Collins has always used, this particular kit is a Gretch kit

2 Neil Peart


No doubt about it, Neil Peart was one of the biggest influences on me as a young drummer. I loved Rush right from when I started listening to them around 1976. The first track I ever heard was round a friends house and that was Bastille Day from the Caress of Steel album. From then on I was hooked. I bought the album and discovered the track "The Fountain of Lamneth" which used drums in a way I had never heard before. The next Album 2112 came out and that was it. They would play 3 nights at the Hammersmith Odeon and I was there all three nights!!

I bought every album and went to see them around the country until Signals came out in 82 and for me the golden age of Rush was over. I can still appreciate the music but it's not as mind blowing... maybe I'm just getting old!

Neil Peart Drum Solo

One of the worlds most technically skillful and musical drummers. Neil is also a prolific lyric writer for Rush. I would have loved to get a clip of Peart's drum solo prior to all the electronic drums and backing tracks but this will have to do for now.

The Neil Peart Drum Set up


1 John Bonham

The most influential drummer - ask any rock drummer!!! - May 31st 1948 to September 25th, 1980 R.I.P.

John Henry Bonham has got to be my No.1. I was listening to some old Zep albums on my iPod the other night and just listening to Bonham, and even now just totally blown away by the rhythm and swing he brings to the music. He's not the flashiest drummer in the world, he never used a big kit but in my book still the best drummer in rock by far.

John Bonham - Moby Dick - The John Bonham Drum solo

Moby Dick was of course John Bonham's vehicle to show the world what a great soloist he was. When I first saw this, I couldn't believe it, the guys playing drums with his hands, no sticks and still heaver than most.

The John Bonham Drum Kit

The classic Bonham kit is probably the most sought after of all Vistalite set ups. Bonham Vistalites were amber - a 26 inch bass drum with rail tom mount and bass-drum mounted cymbal stand; 14 inch rack tom; 16 & 18 inch floor toms and a 6.5 inch 402 snare drum.

My top 10 drummers are

Awesome drummers with amazing kits

10 . Lars Ulrik

9. Cozy Powell

8. Bill Ward

7. Scott Travis

6. Ian Paice

5. Alsn White

4. Bill Bruford

3. Phil Collins

2. Neil Peart

1. John Bonham

Special Mention for Mike Portnoy Drum Solo - Drum Solo from the progressive drum legend

Really shows off his double bass drum technique

DEBATE: What do you think of my top 10 list?

Am I right, is John Bonham the best Rock Drummer of all time?

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      Buck Johnson 

      2 years ago

      Really like your list and your comments. I've played drums since my first lessons at Ernie Ball's in the San Fernando Valley in the 1960's. So for about 50 years now. My #1 is Cozy Powell. His speed, power and timing were second to none. When he teamed with Blackmore in Rainbow, they did things together that weren't of this earth. A Light in the Black just kicked me in the stomach. Lost in Hollywood was a punch in the mouth. My #2 is Ian Paice. I never thought anyone could be in his league after Made in Japan. I won't say Powell or Paice is any better than the other. Its power and speed. At the moment Powell is #1 because that's the music mood I've been in lately. I pretty much listen to hard, concert type live music. Honorable mention to Tommy Aldrich. Awesome Metal drummer. Love Buddy Rich. Denny Carmassi oh Sammy Hagar and Heart is awesome too.

      But for me, when its hard rock, live in concert there is Powell and Paice. Then there's everybody else. Thanks for your article.

    • profile image

      Karl Komarek 

      5 years ago

      Andy Philips rated all the drummers, as he put it, based on being..."not just great but special, gifted and most of all musical." He also went on to say that..."drumming is about more than cracking out a rhythm, there has to be swing and there really has to a musicality about the playing. All that and a bit of grove and you've cracked it." There is only one name that comes to mind for me and that name is Phil Collins. Andy fundamentally described what exactly has always been an audience's impression of watching Phil play drums. I would add that he does not just perpetually appear to be in 'a bit of groove', he is always in the massive groove. He still, in my honest opinion, uses half the effort that other drummers have to make. It is extremely hard to focus just on Phil's drumming, due to Genesis unprecedented, genius instrumental synchronization and sound, unless, of course, you happen to be hopelessly fascinated by Phil's drumming like myself. Then it gets somewhat easier to detect the fact that there are two kinds of music during songs, which complement each other; one from the band and the other that comes from Phil's drum set. Yes, talk about musical! He is also the greatest improvisor there is, and let's not forget the fact that Phil has never learned the conventional notes. What does that have to do with anything, you might ask? Well, in such case, an artist simply listens to music and plays by ear and by what feelings are being evoked in him during a song. That cannot be learned, that is a gift. A God given gift. Phil possesses divine auditory abilities, there is no better description than that. He has had them since he was 5 years old. So, to sum things up, Phil Collins is in his own class, above, beyond and out of reach for all other drummers.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You missed a big obvious! Keith Moon

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Stewart Copeland????????

      Terry Williams????

      Brian Downey????

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      SAY all you want,....and they may all be very, very, very good! But when it comes to a Number 1. ALL the drummers are second to Buddy. He was way ahead of his time,..and had talent like NO other. The only guy now that comes close is Thomas Lang!

      BUDDY RICH..your da man!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Good choice of drummers. It's too bad you didn't include any drummers from the jazz realm. There are a lot to choose from there, too.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice Bonham and Cozy are my top two!


      Sam from Roland Electronic Drums

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great list but I think you should include Scott Rockenfield of Queensryche and Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree. You should YouTube Gavin's drum solo on David Letterman. Unbelievable. Like Neil Peart, just a different, effortless, technical style of drumming.

    • charlesn profile image

      Charles Nullens 

      8 years ago from London

      I love the Phil Collins drum solo - I have played it to death on my iPod while trying (unsuccessfully of course) to replicate it on my Traps drum kit!

    • menskincaretips profile image


      9 years ago

      This is definitely the ULTIMATE List, very educational information on the drum sets positioning of the best drummers, love this!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      That was a nice drum collection of Legends. Good work!

      Visit my lens LP Conags for info on Latin American percussion instruments.


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