- Audio & Video
Who Is the Best Drummer in Rock Music?
Cast Your Vote for the Best Rock and Roll Drummer - of All Time!
Rock music fans love to debate and compile lists of the best of the best: the best guitarists, the best albums, the best singers, the best band, etc. Well, I personally am a huge fan of rock drummers and love to debate with others about who is the Best Drummer in Rock Music - hence this webpage! While I have my personal opinions on who deserves the title, I wanted to give others a chance to vote as well. So below you'll find a chance to cast your votes for the best rock and roll drummer and tell me why you think he or she deserves the title.
I'll also share some thoughts on what I think makes for a great rock drummer, plus cool merchandise to help you play and sound like some of the greats yourself. So who do you think deserves the title: Keith Moon, Neil Peart, Dave Grohl, or someone else? Vote now and see what others think, too!
What Makes a Rock Drummer Great?
Playing to the Beat of His Own Drum
Every rock drummer is different – at least, every good rock drummer. Some restrain themselves to keeping the beat and allowing the other musicians to shine; others propel the drums to the front of the band’s music. Some play a basic, stripped down kit of snare, base, cymbals and a few toms; others surround themselves with every percussive instrument known to mankind. Some play hard and at blinding speeds, throwing off 64th notes like there’s no tomorrow. Others are the master of soft inflection and nuance.
A great rock drummer has a unique sound that inspires but can never be completely imitated. A great rock drummer may pay homage to his inspirations but then turns those inspirations into something new and fresh. A great rock drummer knows how to play more than a steady 2/4 backbeat – but doesn’t have to show-off and play more than that unless the music calls for it.
What is the most important characteristic of a great drummer?
Subscribe to Modern Drummer - A Magazine for All Drumming Enthusiasts
Playing along with Neil Peart is certainly a challenge - but you can give it a try with this book/cd set.
Learn the techniques that make John Bonham one of the greatest drummers in rock history.
Cast your vote here!
Who is the best drummer in rock music?
Some of the contenders for best drummer
Before casting a vote for who you think is the best, here are the top contenders I've included in my poll - and a little bit about each of them. Did I leave off your personal pick? If so leave a comment at the end of this article.
1. Neil Peart
Drummer for Rush, and worshipped by drumming geeks everywhere. Virtually impossible to match from a technical standpoint, able to create complicated grooves, solos and fills with scary-precise timing. Some say he's even too precise, leaving his sound "cold." What do you think?
2. Keith Moon
Drummer for The Who until his untimely death, many still say he was the ONLY drummer for The Who. Moonie played like no one else before or since, with a style all of his own. Technically imprecise, he cared not, creating some of the wildest, most personality-filled drumming in rock history.
3. Alex Van Halen
The driving beat behind Van Halen's hard rock is thanks to Alex Van Halen. His playing set the foundation to showcase his brother's fancy guitar licks and David Lee Roth's vocals, but he too shined in some stellar fills and ability to rock out the crowd.
4. John Bonham
The father of all hard rock and metal drumming? Perhaps. John Bonham thundered and rolled as the drummer of Led Zeppelin, creating a heavy sound that was raw, emotional, and supremely masculine.
5. Nicko McBrain
Iron Maiden's powerhouse drummer has precision and technique while still creating thunderous beats for their heavy metal music.
6. Mike Portnoy
Dream Theater could be accused of putting Mike Portnoy's drummer front and center, perhaps even to the detriment of the song. Yet for drumming fanatics he is much idolized for his technical wizardry and the complexity of his playing style.
7. Danny Carey
Drummer for Tool. Ability to create complex rhythms with both hands and feet.
8. Ginger Baker
Ginger Baker showed the world how powerful double-bass drumming could be in the supergroup Cream. He mixed jazz sensibility with driving rock, becoming an idol to many rock drummers for generations to come.
9. David Grohl
Dave Grohl is a drummer's drummer, respected and adored for his powerful hard rock playing in Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures and more. To see Grohl in action is to appreciate the ferocity - and joy - he brings to the kit.
10. Taylor Hawkins
It's got to be hard to be the drummer for the Foo Fighters, playing under the shadow of Dave Grohl - considered by many to be one of the greatest drummers in rock today. Yet Taylor has his own unique, fast and hard style that his come into its own while still paying homage to his own heroes including Roger Taylor of Queen and Stewart Copeland.
11. Lars Ulrich
Ulrich has powered Metallica for decades of heavy metal and hard rock beats. He's not over-fancy but solid and gives the "headbangers" out there just what they want.
12. Phil Collins
Those who only know Collins for his sappy later solo work really need to get out some early Genesis albums to hear what Collins can do on the kit. Tastefully complex, he could prog rock with the best of them and his playing on the toms is instantly recognizable.
13. Nick Mason
Drummer of Pink Floyd, he was equally at home on their experimental, psychedelic numbers as on straight-ahead rock and roll tracks. Nick always seems to keep his cool and play in an almost effortless manner.
14. Bill Bruford
Bill Bruford has supplied the complex and awe-inspiring drumming for groups such as Yes and King Crimson for decades. He can complement complicated progressive rock without stealing the show, yet always being precise in his technique.
15. Stewart Copeland
"The Rhythmatist." Best known for his drumming work with The Police. Stewart's trademark sound is a sharp, tight snare and his high-hat work is extremely expressive. Stewart mixes world rhythms into his rock playing for a complex sound that often takes center stage, and his sound was critical to rock music in the 1980s.
16. Ringo Starr
Ringo often gets a lot of flack, but his tasteful playing for The Beatles provided just the right sound for the band's classic music. If you ever hear a band try to cover the Beatles, you'll notice that virtually no one can quite get that "Ringo shuffle" right. He was inventive and creative in finding unique grooves as no one had in the past.
17. Charlie Watts
Timekeeper for the Rolling Stones. Like Ringo Starr, Watts is often accused of having a "too" simple style. But his drumming keeps the Rolling Stones' music on the beat and driving forward.
18. Joey Jordison
Joey Jordison of Slipknot was voted the best drummer of the past 25 years by readers of "Rhythm" magazine in August of 2010. A speed demon on the kit, he's got a huge fan in Stewart Copeland and others impressed by his incredible double bass playing.
19. Mick Fleetwood
A master of tasteful groove playing and giving a song just what it needs. Mick's playing in Fleetwood Mac inspired many who noted his subtle skills and ability to put emotion and feel into rock drumming.
20. Carl Palmer
In groups such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Asia, Carl Palmer wowed arena rock crowds with his musicality and inspiring technique. With a classical training in tuned percussion he was a natural for progressive rock music.
21. Carmine Appice
A seasoned session drummer who has worked with everyone from Rod Stewart to Ozzy Osbourne. Carmine Appice was one of those who set the stage for the big rock sound of the 1970s and was an inspiration to drum gods such as John Bonham.
22. Chad Cromwell
Established session player in Nashville who has played for Peter Frampton, Neil Young, Mark Knopfler and other noteworthy musicians.
23. Jeff Porcaro
Known for his work on Michael Jackson's Thiller and Dangerous albums, as well as being part of the band Toto. Well respected by the drumming community for his work across various genres.
24. Josh Freese
Josh is a very busy drummer who has played with artists ranging from Guns 'n Roses to Miley Cyrus. It doesn't get much more diverse than that!
25. Terry Bozzio
Perhaps best known for his monstrous, over-sized kit - but he's one of the few drummers out there who can carry off playing it!
26. Steve Gadd
The most respected session player of all time? Well, Steve is certainly in the contention for that title thanks to his work with such artists as Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney.
27. Chad Smith
The drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chad knows how to bring the funk to the band's hard-rocking sound.
28. Vinnie Colaiuta
A drummer with the skills to play anything from jazz to rock to pop, known for his 19 albums recorded with Frank Zappa - among many other incredible accomplishments.
29. Travis Baker
The drummer for Blink-182, Travis has a huge following and is known for his versatility in technique.
30. Gavin Harrison
At the forefront of today's British prog rock, Gavin is known for his work with Porcupine Tree and King Crimson.
Learn to Play Like the Greatest Rock Drummers of All Time - Instructional Books and Videos on Rock Drumming
Okay, so no book or video is going to instantly turn someone into Neil Peart or John Bonham. But these great instructional programs will reveal at least some of their tricks and techniques. Whether you play drums for a hobby or in a band, they're worth checking out.
A great beginners' volume on rock drumming beats, fills and soloing by Carmine Appice.
Want to play like you're in Metallica? This book and cd package will help you out.
More Lists of Great Rock Drummers - "Best of" Lists On-Line
Sure, these other pages won't let you vote on your personal favorites. But you can see who other websites, magazines and writers have picked as the best rock drummers of all time. Do you agree with their rankings?
- The 100 Best Rock Drummers Ever!
List compiled by Total Drumsets webite.
- Stylus Magazine's 50 Greatest Rock Drummers
List compiled by Stylus magazine.
- 10 Best Drummers of All Time
List compiled by Mohawk Bomb Records.
- 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time: Part 1
List compiled by MusicRadar.com.
- 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time: Part 2
List compiled by MusicRadar.com.
Bid Now on Drum Kits on eBay - Want to be one of the greats someday? Then it's time to start practicing.
Dreaming of buying a new drum kit, or maybe your very first? Check eBay and you might find a fabulous kit for sale at a great price.
Get a Signature Snare Drum on eBay - High-Quality Snare Drums Created for Drumming's Finest
Lots of legendary drummers put their name on "signature" drums - drums made specifically to their demands and desires for sound, quality and durability.
Signature Drum Sticks - Use the Sticks Designed For Your Favorite Drummers
Drum sticks are a very personal choice for most drummers. Some like a slender stick with a light, quick rebound while others want a heavier stick that will really drive home the hits! If you want to sound more like your favorite drummer, getting a pair of their signature sticks is a great starting point.
Tributes to some of my favorite drummers
Foo Fighters Drummer Taylor Hawkins: A Tribute
Taylor Hawkins is best known as the drummer of the rock band the Foo Fighters, one of the hottest and hardest rocking bands today. Indeed, they just were awa...
Stewart Copeland - The Rhythmatist of The Police
Most people know Stewart Copeland as the drummer for the rock band The Police. But while his work with Sting and Andy Summers was some of his most popular, S...
Stewart Copeland Soundtracks
Stewart Copeland may be most widely known as the drummer for the rock band The Police. But he has also developed a notable career as a prolific and much in-d...
© 2011 Nicole Pellegrini