There are obviously more than 10 great drummers in musical history, but we have had a stab at creating our list.
There are a few notable admissions, so an honourable mention to the following legends: Questlove, Pat Mahoney, Taylor Hawkins, Neil Peart & Charlie Watts.
Without further ado….
10 – Travis Barker
Blink 182’s Travis Barker is one of the most famous, if not THE most famous drummers of the modern age, and for good reason. Overlooking the MTV/reality TV generation rubbish he got himself into, Travis is a PHENOMENAL musician. A punk rock guy at heart, he has never been afraid to experiment, performing with Rappers and DJs, but always keeping his own distinguishable style with everything that he does. In our opinion, some of his very best work was on the very first Album with the Transplants, which straddles punk and hip-hop so well. He recovered from a career, and life, threatening plane crash in 2008 and has not missed a step. Will hopefully go down in history as one of the greatest of all time.
9 – Joey Jordison
Joey Jordison recently left Slipknot after revealing that he had been suffering from a neurological condition that caused him unable to play the drums. If this means that he can never play drums as well as he could again, then it is a huge loss to Metal music. Slipknot aren’t for everyone, but their impact on Metal music is undeniable. Incredibly percussion heavy, Joey was a massive part of this. His style, and in particular the playing of two bass drums simultaneously, has influenced so, so many modern Metal and Rock bands. He is still playing in various bands, and while it will never reach the heights of Slipknot, its great to see that he is still around the music scene.
8 – Ringo Starr
“Ringo isn’t the best drummer in the world...He isn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles….” For years, the rumour was that John Lennon said this in an interview, but he didn’t. It has since been credited to British Comedian Jasper Carrott. Even if this was a product of Lennon’s famous whit, it would be doing a terrible disservice to Ringo’s talent. As strange as it sounds, considering he was in the biggest band in the world, Ringo was underrated, and underappreciated. Nowadays, people see him for the percussion genius that he is. Dave Grohl (more on him later) calls him the “King of the Feels”. A drummer needs to be steady and reliable, and Ringo had all of that and so, so much more.
7 – Ginger Baker
It’s no secret that Ginger Baker wasn’t a particularly likable guy, but, his immense talent matched his ferocious temper. Teaming with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton to form Cream in 1966. His nickname of “Rock’s first superstar drummer” is well deserved. A showman through and through, Ginger infused his Jazz training with extended power and blues solos. Since Cream lasted all of 2 years, ginger has kept himself busy over the years with a variety of projects, from Afrobeat, to collaborating with Public Image LTD. If you want to get an idea of who the man himself really is, spend 2 hours watching “Beware of Mr. Baker”.
6 – Ramon “Tiki” Fulwood
“Tiki” Fulwood was an absolute pioneer. He sadly passed away in 1979 from a bout of stomach cancer, but form the late 1960’s, he was employed as the drummer of, at various points, George Clintons Parliament - Funkadelic, and even Miles Davis. Legend has it that at a tender 17 years old, Fulwood had to sneak into clubs to perform, and Clinton eventually had to beg his mother to take him on tour. Modern funk and soul musicians take very heavily from Tiki, which just goes to show how much of an influence he has had on the music scene.
5 – Dave Grohl
Poor Taylor Hawkins. Amazing drummer he may be, but it must sting a little when you know the singer of your band is a better drummer than you! “The Nicest Man in Rock” made a name for himself behind the drum kit in Nirvana, you may have heard of them?? After Kurt’s untimely suicide, he started up the Foo Fighters, and over the years they have grown in to one of the biggest bands in the world. Not content with fronting the Foo’s, he has also lent his relentless, brawny style to Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures amongst others. His future is definitely as a front man still, but when he does get behind the drums again from time to time, you can bet it will be a hell of a spectacle.
4 – Keith Moon
Moon, the inspiration for Animal in The Muppets, smashed his drums just as ferociously as he smashed up hotel rooms. He is almost as famous for his destructive behavior as he was for being the drummer in The Who, one of the greatest, and loudest Rock Bands ever. When he wasn’t blowing up toilets, he was one of the best, and surprisingly melodic drummers in History. Unfortunately, Moon did aged 31 from a drug overdose, which some say had been coming due to his crazy behavior, not that that makes it any less tragic.
3 – Buddy Rich
No drummer from the jazz world had more influence on rock percussion than Bernard "Buddy" Rich. His arrival in the late 1930s was without precedent: a flashy, aggressive, self-taught Jewish kid from Manhattan, taking extended solos that showcased his dazzling speed and intricate stick work at a time when most drummers wouldn’t dare think outside of the box. Eventually, he recorded and performed with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Louis Armstrong, but he was best-known for leading (and arguing — he was famously foul-tempered) his own high-energy bands.
2 – Stewart Copeland
Stings voice and playing style may be the vintage sound of the Police, but none of this would have been possible without Stewart Copelands subtlety and aggression. A well-traveled child, Copeland’s style has a lot of various influences, especially the middle-east, which heavily influenced the early records by the Police. Since the Police all went their own way, he’s written soundtracks and solo albums as well as appearing with other groups. He’s also written soundtracks for TV and movies. He’d written for orchestras, even playing classical percussion. In summary, he is one of the most talented people in musical history. End of.
1 – John Bonham
Unsurprisingly, John Bonham is number 1 on most lists of drummers. An absolute Tour-de-force, “Bonzo” confused fans for years, convincing them that he was using 2 bass drums, but in reality, his style was just ferocious, disorienting, deliberate, and LOUD. His awesome technique and a big open sound, he sent Zeppelin's tunes soaring. He embodies raw, emotional, rock drumming that comes straight from the soul. When Bonham passed away at 32 in 1980, Led Zeppelin decided to disband, releasing one of the most poignant statements in musical history:
We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."
He's a rock god and undeniably the greatest ever.