- Keith Moon
Essentially, a kid with ADHD that thankfully found the perfect position for him (on the drum throne) and who thankfully didn’t listen to anyone who advised him that a drummer is merely a timekeeper. If you watch Moon’s kits develop over the years, they just kept getting bigger and bigger. And in typical Keith Moon fashion, he played the piss out of every new tom, snare, or cymbal he added.
- John Bonham
Like Moon, Bonham didn’t seem to play with much regard for traditional technique. Instead of laying down a backbone with the bassist, Bonham seemed to follow Jimmy Page’s guitar work, thereby creating this most awesome groove that was completely unique. Thousands have tried to imitate him, but very few “get” some of the clever nuances in his performance, even down to the squeaky pedals.
- Neil Peart
Every fucking drummer in my high school band would have gladly sucked the dick of Neil Peart just to be able to play with a quarter of the man’s ability. Positive: He can play the piss out of the drums. Negative: His virtuosity sometimes negates any hint of improvisational skills. Positive: He’s a master of technique. Negative: Technique doesn’t necessarily give you soul. But whatever, the dude is awesome and he gets bonus points for being the greatest living drummer in the world and still taking lessons from another teacher to avoid getting comfortable with his own drumming.
- Clyde Stubblefield
Get’s a little higher nod than fellow James Brown alumni John “Jabo” Starks because Stubblefield laid down the most sampled drum lick in history, “Funky Drummer.” For that song along, a syncopated, lock groove that is funk, this motherfucker shouldn’t have to work a day in his life again. Yet he still does, weekly in Wisconsin and he continues to follow Brown’s advice: “Don’t turn it loose…Cuz it’s a mother!” For all you white folks, this is what’s referred to as playing “in the pocket.”
- John “Jabo” Starks
Here’s a guy that can give you a boner just by playing his kit. Yes, the man who’s responsible for propelling “Sex Machine,” “Super Bad,” and a host of other songs that make your penis erect, is good enough to not be “rock” drummer, yet still manage to be in this Baker’s Dozen list.
- Phil Rudd
When you listen to AC/DC, what do you think of? Angus Young’s guitar solos? Brother Malcolm’s punch rhythm licks? Brian Johnson’s “I’m being dry-anal-raped” vocal stylings? I think of those too, but I also think, “My God, that drummer is so fucking subtle that it’s brilliant. Robert “Mutt” Lange is notorious for having bands, particularly drummers, re-record their shit until it’s perfect. For the making of Back In Black, Rudd used no click tracks and typically nailed his part on the first take, causing Lange to work with Bryan Adams.
- Stewart Copeland
Lightning fast on those fucking hi-hats to the point that whenever I try to emulate his technique, I look like a retarded kid banging on a timpani with a dust broom. He amazes me at his ability to go from soft and restrained rhythms to powerful cracks in mere seconds. I totally expected Copeland to be a big star after the police, but the names Oysterhead and Animal Logic don’t seem to be household names, do they?
- Cozy Powell
Cozy’s been described as having a “wet” drum sound, which translated means, “Let’s make the drums really booming.” Powell’s a highly sought after session player that’s done time with Robert Plant, Michael Schenker, Rainbow and even E.L.P., which required them to change their name (briefly) to Emerson Lake and Powell. Regardless of that questionable decision (working with Emerson and Lake, that is) he’s still one of my favorites.
- Charlie Watts
Old Mr. Reliable. Seriously, can you imagine one single Rolling Stones song without Charlie behind it? A jazzman who understood that there’s little money to be made in actually playing jazz and ended up being the timekeeper (emphasize keeping time) for the greatest rock and roll band in the world.
- Ringo Starr
Ringo likes to remind everyone that he’s the best drummer in the world. We all smile politely, nod, and secretly say under our breath “Dude, you were the drummer for the best band in the world…Big difference.” Or is there? Ringo may have a point; like Watts, can you imagine a single Beatles song if it were backed by anyone other than Ringo? There’s a good chance it might really suck, and to that point, Richard Starkey may be right.
- Tommy Aldridge
Fucking dude can play. I’d never really listened to Black Oak Arkansas before, but then I saw the video below and was blown away at how good they were, particularly the drummer. He may have been (like Cozy Powell) too good for his own good as Aldridge always seems to be jumping from gig to gig with total disregard for the notion that the guy probably needs to settle down with a band and develop a legion of followers like Neil Peart has.
- Kenny Arnoff
I want to know how many snare drums this guy has broken in his career. With every “snap” of that thing, I start to feel sorry for it. And then I think of all the trees that Arnoff must have demolished just to replace those sticks that he’s gotta be running through. Bald and relatively ugly, Arnoff is best know for his session work, starting with a great run during John Cougar Mellencamp’s mid-80’s run. That’s right, I said John Cougar Mellencamp.
- Terry Bozzio
Has Frank Zappa ever hired a shitty musician? I’m not that big of a Zappa fan, so I will let those that are answer that. But from what I’ve heard, Bozzio’s got the goods. I’m lying somewhat, because when Missing Persons started and I saw the video for “Words” I declared “Hey, that’s the drummer for Frank Zappa!” immediately after saying, “Hey, that lead singer’s got some nice breasts.”
- Ian Paice (Deep Purple)
- Moe Tucker (Velvet Underground)
- Scott Travis (Judas Priest)
- Damon Che (Don Caballero)
- Mitch Mitchell (Jami Hendrix)
- Ginger Baker (Cream)
- Marky Ramone (Ramones)
- Topper Headon (The Clash)
- Bill Ward (Black Sabbath)
- Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth)
- Dave Groh (Nirvana)
- Alan “Reni” Wren (Stone Roses)
- David Robinson (The Cars)
(revered drummers that I’m not particularly impressed with)
- Mike Portnoy (Dream Theatre)
- Peter Criss (Kiss)
- John Densmore (The Doors)
- Alex Van Halen (Van Halen)
- Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake, & Palmer)
- Travis Barker (Blink 182)
- Nick Mason (Pink Floyd)
- Vinnie Paul (Pantera)
- Carter Beauford (Dave Mathews Band)
- Jimmy Chamberlain (Smashing Pumpkins)
- Matt Sorum (Guns ‘n Roses)
- Chris Slade (AC/DC)
- Mick Shrimpton (Spinal Tap)