Greatest Drummers of All Time

AKPickin

The Contenders: Page 2XW

21Mike ManginiMike Mangini is an American drummer. Since 2010, he has been a member of progressive metal band Dream Theater, following the departure of founding drummer Mike Portnoy.

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!

Quite possibly the most technically proficient drummer of all time. "Illumination Theory" is based on a polyrhythm that includes a subdivision of nineteen. Nineteen! His hands are the fastest ever (he has world record), he has an octopus-like coverage of the kit rivaled only by Kieth Moon, and there is, quite frankly, probably nothing he cannot play.

Before telling anything, see Mike Mangini's solo in Dream Theater Live at Luna Park, Argentina. Nothing else to say.

V8 Comments
22Craig 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 rocks!

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

V1 Comment
23Roger TaylorRoger Meddows Taylor is an English musician , multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter born on April 26th,1960 in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. He was the drummer of the band Queen and wrote few of many hits such as including Under Pressure, A Kind Of Magic and Radio Ga Ga. Despite being well known in Queen ...read more.

I have almost a million reasons why Roger Taylor is the best Drummer, Musician, and Person ever, First of all, Listen to Breakthru and think how he did that amazing sound with only Drums?! Next find a live version of I'm In Love With My Car and think how he could play drums, and sing and still be able to breath after wards, and people, Ringo Starr, you barely know there are drums in Beatles songs, and after that's all sunk in listen to the back-up vocals on Somebody to love and then think about how ROGER TAYLOR IS TOTALLY NUMBER ONE! - Queen-aholic

Kicking ass at drumming and singing at the same time... That deserves higher than place 19. He may not be the fastest drummer, but his actual ability to hold a song together whilst backing up vocals and providing main vocals is a lot more than any of the other nominees can do.

Subtle, yet primal. Textured, yet walloping. Taylor simply oozes chops that no one else has, with a style all his own. Grandeur is perhaps a strange word to apply to drumming, but that's what Roger Taylor has. I'm in awe every time I hear him. #1, bar none.

He deserves to be in the top ten. - jrodz

V24 Comments
24Thomas 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

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!

This list is just a popularity contest. There are only a few people on it who deserve to be. Thomas Lang would wipe the floor with all of them. - ThisIsTheArtOfStrato

I hope we can all agree Thomas has the best feet on planet Earth.

V7 Comments
25Steve Gadd

Gadd is a drummers drummer and like Buddy Rich, a natural talent with an innate ability to feel the music. He lives it, just look at his face when he plays. His drumming contributes, it doesn't dominate, but is it incredibly skilled in a very subtle way. Check out his playing with Chick Corea and of course, the legendary "50 ways to leave your lover" drum part...

style, finesse, control and metronomic time-keeping! It's no wonder everyone was after him. In Japan he was called Steve God. Period.

If you asked pro drummers across all genres to compile this list, Steve Gadd would be in the top ten easily.

He is a text book for drummers.

V5 Comments
26Nick MasonNicholas Berkeley "Nick" Mason is an English musician and composer, best known as the drummer of Pink Floyd.

Being a drummer does not mean that you need to be loud, need to be fast and crazy. Drummers are the backbone of most songs. Nick Mason was not only the backbone for Pink Floyd's songs, but he was the beauty and soul of their music. His drumming is an expression of his inner being and inner soul, and you can hear this in their music. It is not just the passion that you can hear in his drumming, but you can hear the expression of his inner being. His drumming show what is means to be human. Complete freedom, let your inner self be free, no restraint.

How come he is number 30? Why such a good drummer is that underrated? He is not an insane drummer but look at his sense man...listen to "live at Pompeii" stuffs..You will understand.. Banging the drums isn't about everything..you must feel the rhythm

The greatest of the simple drummers. Solid Master of the funk style. Very underrated. Listen to Time, Money, Set the Controls to the Heart of the Sun.

A very recognizable drummer with great style and identity. Not saying he's the best but he sure surpasses posers like Shannon Leto, James Sullivan, Lars Ulrich or Yoshiki Hayashi. The drums are a musical instrument that should be used with brilliance, not just mindlessly banged. - RalphSaad

V8 Comments
27Dave Weckl

One of the best, most sophisticated, outstanding drummer I ever heard in my life, and I heard all of them. Absolutely a genius on the drums. A top ten must!

Hands down the most versatile and musical drummer today. Voters on these lists should always do their homework and actually listen to everyone before voting.

Weckl haha you can't say Lars or grohl can best this guy. This guy is a celebrity in the drumming world, and even the music world in general!

Like Steve Gadd, has worked with Chick Corea and you should check him out in some of the live sessions with Chick. Stunning...and easily top 10...

V6 Comments
28Nicko McBrainMichael Henry "Nicko" McBrain is an English musician, best known as the drummer of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, which he joined in 1982.

Mr. Octopus. THE KING OF SINGLE PEDAL, he prefers to employ a fast, bare foot technique using a single pedal, so why not he be the first...

Nicko deserves to be in top 5. Because he can easily beat John Bonham and kick his ass. Nicko is one of the greatest drummer of the legendary heavy metal band iron maiden. He is fast and skilled. I am very disappointed to see him in number 20. He deserves more.

There are a few others who probably match his skill set more or less but nobody really beats Nicko at anything when it comes to drumming. There isn't anything that he can't drum.

Nicko Mcbrain, best drummer to live, he is so underrated on this list, I've never heard a drummer to be better, his fast style of drumming is best by far.

V12 Comments
29Jimmy "The Rev" SullivanJames Owen Sullivan (February 9th, 1981 - December 28th 2009), better known by his stage name "The Rev" (Short for "The Reverend Tholomew Plague") was an American musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the former drummer, backing vocalist and co-founder of the American heavy metal band Avenged ...read more.

You're right, it is too low on this list, seeing as how he's also at number seven.

V3 Comments
30Bill WardWilliam Thomas "Bill" Ward is an English musician and visual artist, best known as the original drummer for the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath.

The thing about Bill Ward is that he was the drummer in THE FIRST metal band to ever exist. But I wouldn't say he's a metal drummer. He's more like a hip hop drummer mixed with a jazz drummer on steroids. He would lay down funky grooves with the kick pedal on songs like Hand of Doom and Behind the Wall of Sleep that could just as easily exist in a Biggie Smalls song as a metal song, and would then proceed to destroy your mind with lightning fast fills. The man had hands like a machine gun. And when you watch live footage of him, it's so amazing that the camera man practically focuses on him the whole time. He was an absolute maniac on the drums and his beats are among the grooviest ever written. 100% underrated. Probably due to the fact that Sabbath only really put out 3 amazing albums.

If Black Sabbath were the founders of metal, Bill Ward is the father of metal drumming. Others on this list might outshine him from a technical standpoint, but they probably wouldn't even be on this list if he hadn't inspired them to pick up a pair of sticks in the first place. It's a real shame the newly reformed Black Sabbath couldn't find a way to get him involved in the current (and potentially final) reunion.

There is no greatest drummer because there so so many but Lars shouldn't even be in the top million drummers and Bill Ward is the king of metal drummers. Death also has the greatest metal drummers. I think all Deaths drummers should be in the top 20.

Bill Ward should be in the top ten. A founding father of heavy metal drumming! He introduced power and speed that were unknown before his time. Lars isn't even close in talent or impact.

V6 Comments
31Travis BarkerTravis Landon Barker is an American musician and producer, and the drummer for the American rock band Blink-182. Barker has also performed as a frequent collaborator with hip-hop artists, and with the alternative rock band +44, the rap rock group the Transplants, and the alternative rock band Box Car ...read more.

Simply the best, the one with a unique style! Just because he is open to play every type of music, and he kicks ass!

If this is a list of human drummers Travis doesn't belong here. I mean he's like super human when he plays drums. I love his style hi's awesome. Blink

He must be in the top one in my opinion because every time I hear his composition my feet are tapping along the beat. I like his composition in miss you of blink 182.

Definitely one of the best drummers.

V53 Comments
32Tommy LeeThomas Lee Bass, best known as Tommy Lee, is a Greek-American musician and founding member of heavy metal band Mötley Crüe.

In my opinion Tommy Lee has always been and always will be the best drummer in the world. Watching Tommy play amazing and unforgettable. He also has gorgeous tattoo's and I don't believe I have ever seen him play while wearing a shirt, for his age, lifestyle and the drugs he abused along with having Hepatitis C he looks amazing for his age. Anyone that misses out on seeing Tommy Lee perform has missed out on the chance of a lifetime to see a rock legend.

NUMBER 31! Who made this list, I'm sorry to say but Tommy should be at least in the top 10 I mean drumming while spinning upside down and all the other stuff. Come on you must be blind or something. Who ever made this list needs to be shot or giving a new pair of ears. Tommy is one of the best drummers in the World. PERIOD

He's the only drummer in the world who can play upside down/sideways/spinning/& puking all at the same time & never misses a beat.

HELLO?! No question about it, Lee was the best, he is the best, & he always will be the best. Can you tell me anyone else who can play a solo while spinning upside down? No, you can't, because no one has even tried!

V5 Comments
33Rick AllenRichard John Cyril "Rick" Allen is an English drummer who has played for the hard rock band Def Leppard since 1978. He overcame the amputation of his left arm in 1985 and continued to play with the band, which subsequently went on to its most commercially successful phase.

Rick Allen was a beast when he had two arms... Check out Pyromania and high n Dry! At the time, he was only about 20 years old... Had he matured and had both arms, think of all the legends he would've left behind. But alas, even with one arm, he'll destroy most of the drummers out there. I vote him as top 5 drummers of all time hands down!

Rick Allen is better than any other drummer on this list, and he only has one arm. You've got to admire his passion and all-out greatness. It is a shame that he's this far down on the list.

This guy needs to be farther up come on his drumming may not be to difficult but its amazing how he plays with only one arm, coming from a drummer myself

Even good with only 1 arm.

V13 Comments
34Tico Torres

Even Gene Krupa rated Buddy as the greatest and that says it all. Not only was he fast, he also had a delicacy and variety of touch that placed him on a higher plane than both contemporary and younger drummers. Added to this he had a dry sense of humour which often came through during his playing. See him on the Muppet Show on YouTube.

Simply. Number 1. Greatest Drummer from the greatest ever band. No Band has ever performed live as well as Jovi. No band ever will do. Quite simply music perfection.

This is the only solid rock band that has made it this far without falling into the Hollywood lifestyle. Great music, Great concerts! Definitely the best drummer of all time!

No one plays the drums like tico

V5 Comments
35Virgil Donati

Virgil donati is not only the best and most complex drummer who has ever lived but will be the best long after he has gone. That's how far advanced this guy is. It will literally take many many years before earth see another Virgil donati! I have studied him my hole life met him and all. He should not only be number 1 on this list but there should be a big gap between 1 and 2 and 2 should definitely be weckl. But donati is number one by farr!

His drum solo on Cruise Missile while playing with Loose Change in Melbourne, is out of the world, 15 minutes of pure genius.

Virgil is outstanding in 4 way coordination, imagination, speed and power, sense of guess what comes next in a jam, among other skills, and inbuilt talent.
He arrived to new borders of the drums technique, all was achieved by hardworking along many years.

One of drummers, Australian can be really proud of.

V3 Comments
36Chad SmithChadwick "Chad" Smith is an American musician and current drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which he joined in 1988 and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Chad Smith is one of the most sought-after session drummers in the world - and probably one of the loudest. In the late 80s, he blew away the newly-formed Red Hot Chilli Peppers lineup, though his hard rock and hell's angels style appearance looked out of place, so singer Anthony Kiedis told him to ditch the bandana and come back the next day. Smith kept it on, but they admired his persistence. Today he's also touring with the supergroup Chickenfoot, when he gets a chance.

besides the fact that he was voted by drummer magazine the best drummer alive he also holds the world record for playing the worlds largest drum kit

Look up "RHCP-I Like Dirt, Rolling Rock Festival 2000". It's crazy. - Johannes9

Just awesome!

V3 Comments
37Mitch MitchellJohn Ronald "Mitch" Mitchell was an English drummer who was best known for his work in the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Most people don't know about this guy because Hendrix was always standing in front of him, and rightly so, it's his band, but this was still really, listen to Hey Joe, or Voodoo Child, because his fills are great.

Mitch Mitchell was the guy who kept Jimi Hendrix on the beat. He revolutionized drum fills and use of the toms.

This guy was put with the greatest guitar player of all time. Best and favorite drummer in my book

What he is so low

V4 Comments
38Tre CoolFrank Edwin Wright III, known professionally as Tré Cool, is a German-born American drummer, best known as the drummer for the American punk rock/pop punk band Green Day. He replaced the band's former drummer John Kiffmeyer in 1990.

The. Best. Maybe he's not #1 because perhaps the others are better in some way(I don't listen to Japanese music... ) But Mr. Wright deserves a position above #5, unanimously, hands down, and THAT GOES WITHOUT SAYING!

I am a big Green Day fan but Green Day would be nothing without Tre Cool. All those great songs would not be so great. American Idiot would be really bad. But The how crew is amazing and they are going in the hall fame in the next few years maybe this year. Love yah Green Day. Best of the best. They are the punk rock kings.

Why isn't he at least in the top 10!? He puts so much effort into his drums that he is absolutely phenomenal! He has inspired so many people and he's generally a great guy, always making people laugh, you can't help but love him. He deserves more than No. 19!

Wife's band but check out bang bang from 2016 album rev rad

V32 Comments
39Billy CobhamWilliam Emanuel "Billy" Cobham is a Panamanian American jazz drummer, composer and bandleader, who permanently relocated to Switzerland during the late 1970s.

Anyone who knows a thing about drumming for real would put Billy Cobham above the majority of the drummers listed here simply because he was their teacher, their rolemodel, the one all drummers looked up to. Just ask Dennis Chambers, Steve Smith, Sheila E. (she and her dad Pete Escovedo played together with Billy Cobham on his 1977 Magic album) Terry Bozzio, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl and all your other favorites. Either they were a fan of Billy Cobham or they were a fan of one of his many students. Billy Cobham is truly your favorite drummer's drummer! When you talk about drums there is a before Billy Cobham era and an after Billy Cobham era, that is probably the best indication as to why he is the absolute number 1 drummer. In the sixties he was a pure jazz drummer playing with George Benson (Billie's Bounce! ), Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter or Horace Silver in 1968 (check out the live track Nutville! ), invented jazzrock fusion drums with Miles Davis (Bitches Brew), Dreams (featuring ...more

I saw Cobham twice in my life. He changed the way I listened to music from then on. Also got to meet him when he played with Dreams. Truly a great and humble man. So much talent. Also saw him with the late George Duke. Another historic performance. One of the best of all times.

Billy is far above this whole list... Besides the likes of Buddy Rich and Carl Palmer.. They would be neck and neck for #1,2,3... His chops are so profound and Billy is also one of the first drummers to play open-handed lead.

Easily the best drummer of all time.

V8 Comments
40Antonio SanchezAntonio Sánchez is a Mexican jazz drummer. In 2014 his popularity increased significantly when Sánchez composed original music for Birdman.

Richie Sambora plays in a band with drums in it. That qualifies him for this list, doesn't it?

Just listen to his Birdman score. Incredible drumming.

Can hang in the Pat Metheny Group

V2 Comments
PSearch List

Recommended Lists

Related Lists

Most Technical Drummers of All Time Top Ten Best Female Drummers of All Time Top Ten Greatest Rock and Jazz Drummers of All Time Greatest Christian Drummers of All Time Greatest Guitarists & Drummers of All Time

List StatsUpdated 4 Dec 2016

29,000 votes
357 listings
9 years, 17 days old

Top Remixes (67)

1. John Bonham
2. Keith Moon
3. Dave Grohl
rocknrollstar_k16
1. Billy Cobham
2. Keith Moon
3. Matt Cameron
Overclark94
1. Dave Lombardo
2. Nick Menza
3. Nicko McBrain
Samurpls

WRemix
View All 67

Posts

Add Post

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.
P