Greatest Drummers of All Time

AKPickin

August 1, 2015 - A hard category, due to the number of drumming styles, but selected are the most complete and versatile drummers. These drummers should be able to play more than one style. In addition, their impact and influence in music should be felt on a global scale. Not just suburban America. Don't agree with the list? Vote for an existing item you think should be ranked higher or if you are a logged in, add a new item for others to vote on or create your own version of this list.

The Top Ten

1
Neil Peart
Neil Peart is the best! He can play Jazz. He plays for Rush and he plays really hard music. Nobody else could play Rush music in the hole list. I have went to other best drummer web sites and they all said that Neil Peart is 1. Neil Peart is the best! Go Rush! 1974-2112
Several guys on other sites are dissing Peart in favor of Portnoy and Mangini. Hey... They're skilled but please, those two guys are top ten... MAYBE, but in all honesty they couldn't carry Neil's pissbucket. I spent 35 years seeing concerts, was even a roadie for the Stampeders, Randy Bachmann, and Red Rider several times. I saw Pink Floyd in 79 & 80 do their Wall tour and I think I'm still there, but nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can touch Neil Peart with a pair of hickorys. He could use stale licorice and use his eyelids to hold them and they still couldn't come close... And Snortboy, I mean Portnoy, knew he was substandard to Neil. Get real people, use your grey matter (or what's left of it, and accept the facts. Neil Peart is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. (Thanks for that Bret Hart)
Neil is so technically proficient and imaginative when it comes to drumming (and indeed lyric writing) that, like others have previously said putting him at number 4 isn't really giving him anywhere near the amount of credit he deserves.
[Newest]Simply the greatest of all time! No doubt he could play anyone else's sets, but there are to few if any that can imitate him!
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2John Bonham
Shannon Leto at number one? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Shannon doesn't have the talent that Bonham had in his LITTLE FINGER. He shouldn't even be in the top 100 drummers, it's absolutely ridiculous. Bonham was the most influential drummer of all time, all modern drummers would have studied Bonham like their life depended on it. He's influenced the likes of Dave Grohl (Who should be on this list anyway) Joey Kramer, Lee Kerslake, Tony Thompson, Tommy Lee, Peter Criss, Stewart Copeland, Chad Smith, Dave Lombardo and Brad Wilk... Some of the greatest drummers of today who quite frankly would outplay Shannon Leto blindfolded and with a single hand.
Why isn't Bonham #1? Also is it just me or are their about 7 names in the top ten I've never heard of? This list is a terrible representative of the best drummer of all time. Have you ever listened to one of Bonham's drum solos? He does so much with such a small set and can continue like 4 different rhythms at the same time. He is the best.
There are only a couple that can even share his spotlight... The off beat by a billisecond he plays at sets all pace and direction like no other... We can only march when he beats... Only Ginger Baker is close... Most others only bang the gong... Not many drummers have true effect on the sound... I am not even a tap my hands on the desk guy... But when I hear Zeppelin or Cream - I am compelled to listen first to the Drums of these two geniuses... The expert background of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jack Bruce and Robert Plant are only supporting roles to these different drummers...
[Newest]A solid drummer, for sure, but wildly overrated. Mitch Mitchell or Keith Moon would easily bury Bonzo, but Led-Heads can't see past their mindless bias and that ever-present cloud of doobie fog.
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3Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich is in a league of his own and easily surpasses every other drummer on the list.
His rolls were as smooth as milk and his dynamic range
And amazing stick control were awesome. Hearing Buddy play p diminuendo all the way to the edge of his snare drum with a sudden rimshot and heavy accent
Bomb on his bass drum was a mesmerizing thrill.

To those who write him off as a mere technical
Wizard, I suggest that you listen to his treatment
Of the lighter passages on 'Channel One Suite'
'I Can't Get Started' and 'Wave' and you'll be treated
To some of the most impeccably tasteful subtle musicianship possible. I recall hearing Buddy play
An extended duo with pianist Teddy Wilson at Ravinia
Park on Chicago's North Shore in which he used wire
Brushes exclusively. The delicate light touch of his playing was true poetic artistry.

I offer up the brilliant 'West Side Story Medley'
And the aforementioned 'Channel One Suite'
As examples of Buddy's superlative playing
And musicality.

Anyone that had the chance to witness Buddy
'run down' the single stroke roll from open to close
Will attest to his flawless technique and blinding speed.
I've heard them all -- Gene Krupa (my choice for runner up), Louis Bellson, Billy Cobham, Carl Palmer, and
Ginger Baker and great as they (were) are, no one even comes close to Buddy.

A few names that belong on the list are Billy Gladstone
Of Radio City Music Hall, Mitch Markovich, Ben Pollack, Roy C. Knapp, Big Sid Catlett, Jon Hiseman,
Davey Tough, George Wettling, Papa Jo Jones,
And Warren 'Baby' Dodds.

Buddy Rich was percussion perfection!

Larry E. Johnson

Ps - By the way, it's a DRUM SET and BASS drum! Not a 'Drum Kit' or 'Kick' drum!
Buddy Rich was the Holy Grail of drummers. Any one who attempts to put a drummer ahead of Buddy Rich is insane. You can sum it up this way before Buddy died he said in an interview this his Music will Sustain forever. Buddy Rich was Right on time when he said that. You listen to Buddy Rich today at this time and all of his drumming sounds just as fresh and unbelievalbe as it did when he once performed it. What We are hearing today in drumming is just the same as a Washing Machine stuck in the Rinse Cycle. Same thing over and over no Creativity just pure noise. Buddy Rich just take a listen if or when he did take a drum solo. The Buddy Rich drum solo was like a GOOD BOOK it had a beginning a middle to it that kept you reading and staying with that solo and of course Buddy would give you a breathtaking finish. Today the drum solos you are hearing are just like the GRAND FINALE of a Fireworks Show. All noise and all loud loud louder FIREWORKS. No beginning just the END and a lot of noise. Man Buddy Rich we Miss you Big Time.
For those of you that voiced their opinion towards Buddy Rich... You are spot on! Rich was hands down the most technically proficient of any of these drummers listed. Actually after Rich there isn't even a close second. Gene Krupa doesn't even get a mention here? Chick Webb? Rich, with his blazing one handed drum roles was a sight to watch. He's far and away in a completely different category. A bit of trivia: Carmen Appice used to sponsor a annual ' Drum Battle ' for all the elite drummers of the day. It was said that at the ' drum battle ' Carmen's heart sank at the rare times Rich would show up to aggravate and school the group that was nowhere near in his league. Take care all.
[Newest]One of the best drummers ever! Way above guys like Bonham and Peart
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4Keith Moon
The Loon at 11th? You blokes realize that this is a list of DRUMMERS, right? Not people smashing sticks on surfaces and calling it art. As for Peart, the current #2 guy, he was inspired by the Master of Exploding Toilets himself. (For you kids that think music is just WUB WUB WEOOW that are voting for other drummers, that means Keith). Listen to Love, Reign O'er Me. That crashing sound you hear at the end is Moon flipping over and destroying his drumset, because he's just that badass. Fully improvised, for no other reason other than destroying something.
Keith does it without even thinking about it as he was a pure natural talent when it came to playing the drums.

Keith was and still is the master of Rock and Roll drummers.

We can all have our opinions and who we think is best and there are many, many fine drummers in this world. So enjoy them all and remember keith was the best of his time on this planet.
Clearly a lot of people involved in the voting are not drummers. I'm trying not to see this subjectively. Keith Moon is widely considered one of the best because of his natural creativity. He played the drums as a solo instrument, where as most other drummers of his era just kept the beat. Keith went above and beyond and decided to try something new. Ultimately, it influenced tons of people, even Neil Peart, and even more people idol Neil. So, the influence of Keith is literally everywhere in rock music. Technically speaking, he wasn't as musically educated as others like Bonzo or Peart. He made up for it through his weird technique and aggressive style of playing, which are things that simply cannot be taught. People commenting on this page are saying Tommy Lee is the best because he played upside down (which Buddy Rich did first) and Joey is the best because of his speed and precision. Well, drumming is about the sound and emotion behind it. Keith had insane charisma in his playing. Take a best or fill from a song by The Who. Have another drummer play it the same, then listen to Moon play it. The notes are the same, but Keith's drum swagger makes it sound different. Keith was also a very creative player when it came to double bass. The way he does flams on the double bass while doing fills on top of it (look for the Wont Get Fooled Again isolated drums over YouTube) was something I never even thought about doing. I could go on for sure, but there are a few of my reasons. I'd write more, but I'm in a rush.
[Newest]Listen to the Overture from Tommy or Won't Get Fooled Again. Legend has it that a scientist friend of Roger Daltrey listened to a tape of Moon's drumming and said it was humanly impossible to drum as fast as Moon could. I'm not a drummer and certainly don't pretend to be an expert, but he's my favorite.
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5Mike Portnoy
mike is the second best drummer in HISTORY. Only Neil Peart comes first. Anyone who disagrees is not a rock fan and you should keep your pathetic opinions to yourself. This genre is personified by Mike. I give Neil first place ONLY cause he did similar first. Mike took it to the next level and is the BEST nodern drummer. Im a big fan of death metal drummers like Origin and Pete Sandoval but overall no one can stand up to Mike Portnoy. Thanks Mike for the years of inspiration!

chriscrim74

Mike certainly is one of the top drummers of all time. Neil Peart and John Bonham are the only drummers that could compare to Portnoy. Peart because of his overall talent and Bonham because of his style and how he revolutionized drumming (not to mention he was in Led Zeppelin and used only a single kick drum to play complex double kick fills). Let's be realistic, the Rev and Shannon Leto are good, but shouldn't belong on this list above Keith Moon, Thomas Lang, and Mike Portnoy. Thank god Peart is number one or else I wouldn't see any hope for the future of drumming.
personally, I think its a tie between portnoy and mike mangini. look him up. lars ulrich sucks. portnoy is amazing. buddy rich is also an amazing and respectable drummer. those should be top 3. portnoy, mangini, and rich.

deadgrass27

[Newest]This guy ROCKS! Stinks that he left Dream Theater, but still one of the best drummers out there!

6Dave Grohl
People don't consider Dave to be an amazing drummer purely because in Nirvana his drum parts were energetic however simple. Yet if you listen to of his solo's or his work with queens of the stone age or them crooked vultures you'll get a completely different idea. Dave an animal and power house behind a drum kit
Dave has done the lot, Scream, Nirvana, Foo & Crooked Vultures, he has been a guitarist also on David Bowie's "Heathen" Tour and has even filled in guest drummer for a lot of other bands... he shows no signs of letting up and has just recently completed his new album with Foo in his garage. David is ace and a real nice dude too!
What the hell is wrong with you people?! Dave Grohl will ALWAYS win, hands down, best drummer of all time. He's the most talented man out there. He's the most amazing person in the world, so kind and gentle yet wild and crazy. You gotta love Dave Grohl, he should definitely be number one on this list. Always.
[Newest]Best drummer in my life Hat's off... ?!

7James The Reverend Sullivan
I'm a fan of avenged sevenfold and I love jimmy but I don't think his the BEST drummer in the world but his drum cover is godlike although it is not the fastest but it sounds damn awesome with each and every song... as I said I don't think his the best drummer.. but he is 1 of the best drummer in the WORLD... the drum cover of a7x's first album is so godlike that it already beat most of the drummers! a 3rd position for jimmy is wonderful! he deserved it!
I think he is the beast of drumming because he has the speed and his own way of drumming
For me, he should be the no. 1 best drummer of all time, cause he makes his own way of drumming and own beat.. I also love the skill he always do, the "Double ride thing". It's why he is awesome.. FoREVer.. AVENGED SEVENFOLD FOREVER..
Who the hell even is yoshiki hayashi, if the rev were still her that guy would be dirt, foREVer R.I.P
[Newest]Avenged Sevenfold are insane
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8Shannon Leto
When Shannon drums, my heartbeat literally changes into what he's playing. When he starts playing you can tell it's so full of passion and energy. Wait. Scratch that. He does not PLAY the drums, he lets his passion take over and it basically becomes his life. He's seriously been doing this all of his life and he'll never stop. If you ever listen and watch him drum, you'll understand. It's basically heaven.
I can say anything, but it's better if you listen the This Is War. It'll tell you everything
I love his sounds *_*. He's the best drummer on the world and he is just Shanimal! My favourite drummer is Shanimal *_*
[Newest]This guy is a beast when he drums, he's an animal! He lives the song through his drumming. He is the best drummer in the universe. No doubt. Should be #1, he has been such a talent ever since he was just a small child. Just watch and hear him play and you'll say the same.
More comments about Shannon Leto

9Yoshiki Hayashi
My beloved Yoshiki?... He's the best! No one like him! That way of playing drums doesn't have comparation with anyone in this planet! His passion, his dedication... His madness when he's playing! He puts his soul in each note he plays on drums, and you can feel it! I can't explain it, you have to see it for understand it. He's a devil monster on drums and makes my heart explose! He's not only the best drummer in this planet, it's the best pianist, rocker, and human in this universe! I love him!
One of the best in the world and definitely the best in the top ten. X-Japan rock.
Yoshiki has the feel and the power when he plays yoru music!. He is the best!
[Newest]Just a god of piano drums and composing
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10Joey Jordison
He is my favorite and in my opinion #2, Peart is just to great, and Travis Barker isn't good at drumming, he is good at keeping rhythm and creating beats. He is a slow drummer

zack182daley

joey is the best drummer ever he speed and the rythem is awesome

sic(6)sic

Why isn't he number one! He is clearly the best drummer out there. He can do speed and precision perfectly.
[Newest]Joke it is if he is not on the top

The Contenders

11Lars Ulrich
Lars revolutionized drumming. Listen to their first album. Whiplash motorbreath metal militia nobody played that fast in rock or metal bands before. On ride the lightning he proved he could make musical songs like fade to black and for whom the bell tolls work. On master of puppets he perfected his technique of thrash/speed metal while still playing songs Luke sanitarium and the thing that should not be... And justice for all saw his musical ability soar through the roof. Listen to one, dyers eve, blackened, you'll know what I'm talking about. On the black album he created great atmosphere with complementing all the other great players in Metallica's sound. Its about serving the song with Lars and the rest of Metallica. They proved this with load and reload. He didn't overplay. He let the other players do their thing. St. Anger is underrated in terms of his drumming. The title track heard him return partly to his thrash roots in the choruses. Frantic was also great. Death magnetic saw a full-on return to his thrash sound. My apocalypse, all nightmare long, and that was just your life is thrash. The day that never comes saw him show that he still has the musical ability he had with one, sanitarium, etc. Lars is the greatest rock/metal drummer there ever was, is, or ever will be and deserves to be known as such. Long live Metallica!
How is Lars not #2? He should be there right after Buddy Rich! Who is Craig MacIntyre? And Yoshiki Hayashi? What the heck people. Without Lars and Dave Lombrado, modern metal drummers would have no idea what to do. Lars and Dave paved the way for every one else. They should have RESPECT!

gibsonrock53

Dude Lars is not the best drummer but defiantly better than the rev R.I. P all respects to rev but the are seriously more than a 100 drummer better than him and oh my god Travis barker top 10 this is why the real list are made by Professionals because America is Retarded
[Newest]Lars revolutionized thrash metal

12Ringo Starr
"John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison have all said that Starr was the best rock and roll drummer in the world, although when asked in an interview once "Is Ringo Starr the best drummer in the world? " Lennon quipped "He's not the best drummer in The Beatles! " This was in reference to the songs on 1968's White Album "Back In The USSR" and "Dear Prudence", the first two tracks on the album, in which McCartney handled the drumming" LololI laughed so hard. By the way I love Ringo. He is the best.
Virtuosity as a technician does not make one the best. Technicians will always be forgotten. The ones who blazed trails will be remembered in the long run - hundreds of years down the road. Ringo will be remembered and admired 100's of years from now for his creativity vis-a-vis drumming contributions. Quality of drumming is just a bonus. End of Story.
This man was the first true, modern rock drummer. He modernized and changed the whole worlds drumming. As, a drummer with many influences, I know better than many people how important he has been to music. He didn't just invent fantastic drumfills and rythms, but he practically invented the rock drumming that EVERY single rock drummer knows today. Just one of all the things he did was to play with his half open hi hat. People didn't often do that in rock back in those days, not in the same way as he did it. This may sound rude, but I don't think you can fully understand what he did to the rock music if your nnot a drummer yourself. It took me some year s to actually understand what this man did for all of us. I'm still thinking about him every time I sit down by my drums to play.
[Newest]Ringo perhaps the most disrespected drummer of all time, by the same folks who think "shredders" like Eddie Van Halen are great guitarists. Flash and difficulty of execution mean SQUAT if it sounds like crap.

13Vinnie Colaiuta
All of the drummers on top are the "popular" drummers that everyone knows. This guy is almost unknown yet he is far better than some of the drummers in the top ten
Truly a drummers drummer. Probably has played on more recordings than would fit on this page. Regarded as a god by many, including guys who have made this list themselves.
How is peart at the top? He isn't even versatile the only thing he's decent at is hard rock. Vinnie colaiuta can play jazz all the way to death metal like a BOSS. His chops are simply impossible
[Newest]Colaiuta is top 5.

14Stewart Copeland
Bonham's really my favorite, but I had to vote Copeland to push him up a little in the polls. For me, when it comes to quintessential rock drumming, there are four names: John Bonham, Phil Collins, Stewart Copeland, and Keith Moon (who is really off in his own, unique category. )
Stewart Copeland's precision percussion, timing and rhythm must have this guy higher up this chart?
Copeland kicked maximum ass composing and drumming the theme to the to show, The Equalizer. If you have ever watched the show, you know what I am talking about. Pure talent and pure perfection.

15Ginger Baker
The best I ever heard and with the broadest scope in jazz, rock, African, Japanese etc. A true genius. Only the like of Buddy Rich compare and they weren't nearly as wide in scope or as fanatically dedicated to their craft. A crazy genius and a great artist met in one! The first time I heard him I mentioned to the band member, listening to one of his long solos while sitting next to me, that he was the greatest drummer I ever heard and he said that he thought so too. I found out later that I was speaking to Eric Clapton. My opinion has never changed and I seriously doubt if Eric's has either.
Masterfully combining very heavy, rolling rock beats with jazz feel and fine nuances. He pioneered rock drumming by infusing jazz musical sense and sensibility: never the repetitive, boring stuff you get so much of in pop and rock drumming today. Always varied, creative, and in the tradition of jazz ensembles a soloist and equal co-creator to most of the classic Cream hit-songs.
Ginger Baker at 80? Are you kidding? He invented the double-base and could play Jazz and Rock and was a GREAT musician. 90% of the names before him on this list, most of all, RINGO STARR make this list a joke. Ginger Baker could wipe the floor with Ringo. So could most drummers living today like Dave Grohl and Mike Starr.
What a terrible list.
[Newest]Hello? Anyone remember CREAM?

16Craig MacIntyre
Craig can really get the blood to going! Love to watch him play. Drummers fascinate me. I can multi-task online but drumming takes something else my brain just can't compute. Thanks Craig for giving out tips to those that occasionally sit in a song!

anetnut

This guy RAWKS!
Craig you deserve recognition for all the wonderful work you do.

Jerusha

Craig is a fantastic drummer and fun to watch. Drummers have always fascinated me. Talk about multi-tasking... Amazing! Before joining Josh Groban's band, Craig performed with Jackopierce, Toni Lynn Washington, Jess Klein, Johnny A, and the Swinging Steaks, among others. Thanks for sharing your drumkit with you know who Craig. ;)

anetnut

[Newest]Famous does equal the best.

17Dave Lombardo
Dave Lombardo is better, faster and more aggressive than Lars Ulrich.
He is in another level
Is the best and favorite metal drummer of all time
And SLAYER isn't as mainstream as many bands here
Slayer is true, rude and aggressive metal
some of the stuff that he does on the kit is just amazing. Lars Ulrich and Joey Jordison are WAY overated

IMO
1. John Bonham
2. Niel Peart
3. Kieth Moon
4. Dave Lombardo
5. Mike Portnoy
6. Danny Carey
7. Ginger Baker
9. Terry Bozzio
10. Ian Paice

evilchimpmunk566

Do I really need to go into why Dave Lombardo is just the greatest drummer who has ever lived?

Every song Dave has ever played on is just pure brilliance, and he has technique and precision as well as speed, which makes him just the greatest ever...
[Newest]Lars sucks, and so does Metallica. SLAYER!
Lombardo is an absolutely amazing drummer and in my opinion is better than Ulrich but don't go saying Metallica sucks as if you're qualified to say such a thing. I listen to Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer and love listening to all three, there is no doubting Lombardo is the best metal drummer of all time but dismissing a band like Metallica that is clearly talented is unnecessary if you don't like them don't complain about them like it'll change anything. It gets annoying as hell listening to people complain about a musician just because they don't like them, unless you could do a better job don't complain. The worst part about this is that I'm fifteen and I can see this where as you're most likely an adult

18Gene Krupa
The fact that Krupa is 22nd on this list proves that you can't ask this question without going genre-specific. I think you need to card some of these voters at the door too. Meaning no disrespect, in most cases a teenager is not going to have a wide enough scope to make a meaningful vote on something like this- hence, Leto at #2!!?? I guarantee 90% or more of the voters here don't listen to jazz or swing and have never seen this guy rip it up. I like a lot of the other guys on this list, but search up a couple of his videos on the web and just watch and "feel" this guy play. My #1 drummer in any category because he was a technical genius that still played with passion and flare. Truly awesome.

Kidkoffee

I am a young voter, 15, and I agree Gene Krupa is one of the best. I prefer his drumming over Buddy Rich's because Buddy's is mainly just "Hey, look how fast my hands go! ". Gene just puts a certain feeling into it that many drummers just can't.
Should be higher up. He inspired everyone. The problem is that people nowadays doesn't know much about him. The drummers that's from the 60's and 70's grew up with Gene and they took so much from him. Kids these days doesn't know anything
[Newest]It's all about current or recent generations... NOT!

19Mike Mangini
There is no possible sequence of drumbeats that can't be played by him. Every style at every speed. Hardly comprehensible poly rhythms. Not only a top category drummer, he's also a good teacher using his former studies on human nervous system.
This guy is pure genius. Just hear him play, it is almost as if there are 4 people playing drums at the same time. He also at a time held the record of fastest drummer in a number of categories. He has rhythm and speed. He should be in the top ten for sure!
Mike mangini's control is amazing. If there is someone who has the right to claim that he's mastered the Drums on a completely different level then most other proffesional drummers have then it is Mike Mangini. He has mastered absolutely each and every aspect of the drums
[Newest]Before telling anything, see Mike Mangini's solo in Dream Theater Live at Luna Park, Argentina. Nothing else to say.

20Thomas Lang
Only drummer capable of counting and playing overlapping series of 3, 5, 7, 13 notes, each series with each different hand and foot simultaneously. He is unbeatable, the only drummer who makes his colleagues feel weak and nervous. He will never be on the top of the list because he will never play with a monster band
Why in the world his thomas lang 46, he should be in the top 5. His speed is incredible and when he plays his sticks look like lightsabers. I mean, you can't even see his hand when he plays. He can effing roll his brush sticks!
He should be in the Top 5! He is the most technical and skilled drummer ever. All those lists are subjective, based on author's likes and dislikes, and all of them are different. But the truth is the only one!

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This list was created 7 years, 256 days ago and has been voted on over 26,000 times. This top ten list contains 309 items, has been remixed 58 times and has been blogged about 5 times.

Updated Saturday, August 01, 2015


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