The 10 best rock and roll drummers of all time

Every great rock band has a drummer with steady hands who controls the beat and beat of the song.

Great drummers can be found everywhere, from heavy metal behemoths like John Bonham of Led Zeppelin to contemporary rock like Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters / Them Crooked Vultures.

These drummers demonstrated their technical mastery and influenced generations of drummers to come.

Here are our top 10 drummers of all time.

John Bonham – Led Zeppelin

Bonham has cemented his name into history with fast groovy beats that always seem to keep you on your toes.

Eventually, Bonham met a young Robert Plant, and they performed together in a blues band called Crawling King Snakes.

After the Crawling King Snakes, Plant formed a new band where Bonham was recruited to be their rock drummer.

Eventually, Jimmy Page met Plant, and the group would launch the New Yardbirds (possibly Led Zeppelin).

Led Zeppelin will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Bonham will be considered one of the greatest drummers of all time.

Keith Moon – WHO

Keith Moon. Photo courtesy of Bill Abbott via Flickr.

The Who drummer Keith Moon was another eccentric drummer considered one of the best of all time.

A lively lifestyle greatly influenced his musical influence. He is credited with being one of the first musicians to incorporate a double bass into their drums.

Moon also filled the empty space in his drum kit with numerous cymbal crashes, drum fills, and excessive tom-tom use.

This unique sound contributed significantly to the success of The Who. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the group in 1990.

Neil Peart – Rush

Neil Peart performing at the Air Canada Center in 2010. Photo courtesy of Clalansingh via Wikimedia.
Neil Peart performing at the Air Canada Center in 2010. Photo courtesy of Clalansingh via Wikimedia.

Born in Ontario, Neil Peart started playing drums at age 13 to become a professional musician.

After traveling to Britain to find work, he eventually gave up and returned to Canada to support himself. Eventually, he will audition for Rush, the group that will eventually make him famous.

Peart’s rock drums are known for their technical mastery and endurance.

What’s more impressive is the versatility of the drum kit, consisting of a collection of multiple toms, cymbals, bass drums and snares.

His musical influence comes from a diverse group of musicians, starting with Keith Moon of The Who, who initially inspired him to play the drums.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Rush in 2013.

Clem Burke – Blondie

Before rock n roll became popular, punk and new wave were starting to take off in New York City at small clubs like the CBGB. One famous band to come out of this scene is Blondie, a pioneer of the new wave / punk scene.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the American band in 2006. The band couldn’t have done it without drummer Clem Burke, who joined the band soon after its inception and quickly provided a wide variety of sounds. to help shape the group.

Together, Blondie and other new wave groups helped combine disco, reggae, pop and early rap, leading to rock music. Blondie separated in 1982 for 15 years but returned in 1997 and continues to release music today.

Ringo Starr – The Beatles

Ringo Starr and his band All-Starr.  Photo courtesy of Rob DiCaterino via Flickr.
Ringo Starr and his band All-Starr. Photo courtesy of Rob DiCaterino via Flickr.

Ringo Starr is famous for being one of the greatest drummers of all time with The Beatles.

Critics describe his style of drumming as exuberant and full of swing and feeling.

While his music featured fun fills and energetic grooves, he was also very smooth and approachable, contributing significantly to The Beatles’ success.

Before Starr, most drummers were just members of the orchestra or backing band, but never had an identity unless they were one of the best, like Buddy Rich, Hal Blaine, or Gene. Krupa. Starr gave drummers the identity they deserved, much like songwriter and frontman John Lennon.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has inducted the superstar drummer twice. Once in 1988 with the Beatles, and a second time in 2015 as a solo artist. In 2018, Starr became a Knight Bachelor for his service in music.

Ginger Baker – Cream, Blind Faith

When you think of a drummer, you probably think of lengthy drum solos that are impossible to look away from. Cream drummer Ginger Baker is why we love drum solos.

Many rock historians consider Cream to be one of the world’s earliest supergroups. The British rock group included Manfred Mann bassist Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton of the Yardbirds and Ginger Baker.

Baker started playing drums at the age of 15 and was quickly influenced by people such as Phil Seaman (his mentor), Art Blakely, Max Roach, and Elvis Jones.

Along with Keith Moon, Baker was one of the first rock drummers to incorporate a double bass drum into their drums.

Several notable establishments have inducted the drummer, including the Rock of Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 with Cream, the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame in 2016.

Mitch Mitchell – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Mitch Mitchell.  Photo courtesy of Mitch007008 via Flickr.
Mitch mitchell. Photo courtesy of Mitch007008 via Flickr.

Mitch Mitchell performed with many musicians during his lifetime, but is remembered for being part of Jimi Hendrix’s experience until Hendrix’s death in 1970.

Mitchell had a craze for crashing his cymbals, a technique that would later complement Hendrix’s guitar riffs.

In 1974 he auditioned to be part of Paul McCartney’s band Wings but ironically lost in a draw.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1992. The Modern Drummer Hall of Fame inducted Mitchell himself in 2009.

Mitchell has influenced many drummers, including Ian Paice, Stewart Copeland, Chad Smith, Roger Taylor, Bill Bruford, and Phil Collins.

Ian Paice – Deep Purple

Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore described Ian Paice as “the powerhouse of the band” when he first saw them perform in Hamburg.

Most notably, Paice is the only remaining founding member of the legendary rock band Deep Purple, one of the pioneers of heavy metal and hard rock in the early to mid-1970s.

Throughout the songs of Deep Purple, you can hear the simplicity of the backbeat timing that Paice creates with the top hat, while still being able to switch to a drum fill or variation without losing the beat.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Deep Purple in 2016. Prior to that, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized the group as “the loudest band in the world” during a concert in London that left three people unconscious. .

Bill Ward – Black Sabbath

Bill Ward is an English drummer known as one of the founding members of Black Sabbath, a pioneer of the heavy metal scene.

Ward brought a sense of diversity to his drums, consistently providing a sensitive groove that Black Sabbath needed. Most notably, Ward rose to fame for complimenting the dark sound of Sabbath rather than matching Tony Iommi’s powerful riffs.

Many different fashions recognize Black Sabbath, including by the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. MTV called the group “the greatest metal band”, while VH1 ranked them. 2nd in their list of “” 100 greatest hard rock artists.

Dave Lombardo – Killer

Dave Lombardo performing with Suicidal Tendencies - 2016. Photo courtesy of Krousky Peutebatre via Wikimedia.
Dave Lombardo in concert with Suicidal Tendencies – 2016. Photo courtesy of Krousky Peutebatre via Wikimedia.

Dave Lombardo is known for his aggressive and fast-paced drumming in Slayer, one of the four founding thrash metal bands.

Lombardo, 16, met his neighbor, and future bandmate, Kerry King, and quickly hit it off, eventually starting Slayer in 1981, pushing hard rock a step further.

Lombardo specializes in using the double bass (instead of double bass pedals) to achieve his thunderous speed (up to 210 BPM), which has influenced much of the metal scene.

Drummerworld names Lombardo “The Godfather of the Double Bass” because of his technical skills and speed with the bass drum.

Although Lombardo is still in the music industry, many hard rock and metal musicians cited him as an early influence in their lives, including members of Death, Danny Carey of Tool Evanescence, Cannibal Corpse. , Metallica, Slipknot, Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater.


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Corina C. Butler