Top 10 Best Drummers of All Time

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.
The Top Ten
1 Neil Peart Neil Ellwood Peart, (September 12, 1952 - January 7, 2020) was a Canadian musician and writer best known as the drummer and primary lyricist of the rock band Rush. Peart received numerous awards for his musical performances, including an induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1983, making... read more

Buddy Rich was the ultimate master of the quadruple paradiddle with step-overs.

Keith Moon, the master of explosive-effortless fluidity.

John Bonham, the ultimate exponent of the driving single bass drum with explosive triplets.

In fact, every other drummer on this list is exceptional in their own ways. It is only Neil Peart who has the all-round ability to equal each and all of them in the areas where they were singularly exceptional.

Neil Peart can play pretty much every style: Jazz/Big Band, Rock/Metal. I could go on extolling his virtuosity, but words fall to the level of poor poetry.

Every drummer on this list is great, and I can think of a phalanx of other truly outstanding drummers and percussionists who merit the title "Great," but he is the master! Unquestionably, the greatest of them all.

2 John Bonham John Henry Bonham was born on May 31, 1948 in Redditch, United Kingdom. Bonham (nicknamed Bonzo) was a professional hard rock drummer who was best known for being the drummer in the band Led Zeppelin. Bonham was also one of the background singers in the band. His drumming is mainly displayed on the... read more

Achilles' Last Stand, Kashmir, Immigrant Song, Moby Dick, Good Times Bad Times, When the Levee Breaks, Fool in the Rain - 90% of drummers could only dream of being able to recreate the magic of those songs perfectly. Keith Moon was a crazy showman who used drums as a lead instrument. Neil Peart was a good drum soloist with great stick control. Ringo always knew exactly what to play and how it would fit the song. Buddy Holly was a great jazz drummer. But Bonzo, in my opinion, is the manliest drummer who ever lived.

Rhythmic style? Check. Fast foot? Check. Technical gift? Check. Good showman? Check. Good drum solos? Well, he didn't have many, but the ones he did kicked ass. Creativity? Again, check. Bonham had diversity and a feel for groove, but he also had a menacing rocker in him that no other drummer could recreate. Rest in peace, man.

3 Keith Moon Keith John Moon was an English drummer for the rock band the Who. He was noted for his unique style and his eccentric, often self-destructive behaviour. His drumming continues to be praised by critics and musicians.

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, whereas 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 idolize 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 beat 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 Won't Get Fooled Again isolated drums on 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.

4 Buddy Rich Bernard "Buddy" Rich was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. Widely considered one of the most influential drummers of all time and known for his virtuoso technique, power, and speed, Rich was billed as "the world's greatest drummer" during his career.

Buddy Rich is the greatest drummer of all time. That is a fact. Having anyone in front of him is just poor humor. None of these guys could match his speed, precision, and feel. Let's look at some of the people in front of him on this list:

1. Shannon Leto, drummer from 30 Seconds to Mars. I think his reviews and votes were all from the same 14-year-old girl. I don't have a problem with him, but just playing with "energy" and "making your heart race" does not make you the greatest drummer.

2. John Bonham needed a guy to help him come up with licks to frustrate kids. I can play a basic rock beat, so I am as good as Bonham.

Buddy Rich is unmatched in any category. This list is insulting as is.

5 Dave Grohl David Eric "Dave" Grohl is an American rock musician, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer and film director. He is best known as the former drummer of the hugely popular 90s grunge band Nirvana and the vocalist/guitarist for the alternative rock band Foo Fighters. He has sat behind the... read more

If this were a list for underrated musicians, Grohl would have my vote. But as it's a list for the best drummer, he's my second-place choice, favoring Peart. I certainly don't think Grohl is the best drummer, but probably the most versatile and effortless in his style. Able to play any genre with anybody, drumming for many different bands, each of which had a very unique style. He definitely knew how to work with what he had, however simple, and make it a masterpiece. This man doesn't get one-billionth of the credit he deserves or should have.

6 Mike Portnoy Michael Portnoy is an American drummer primarily known as the former drummer, backing vocalist, and a co-founder of the progressive metal/rock band Dream Theater. Known for his technical skill as a drummer, Portnoy has won 30 awards from the Modern Drummer magazine.

From classic rock, The Winery Dogs, to progressive metal, Dream Theater, to symphonic progressive rock, Transatlantic, to instrumental, Liquid Tension Experiment, to hard rock, Avenged Sevenfold... Mike Portnoy is simply the busiest, best drummer in the world. The only modern drummer who comes close is Marco Minnemann! Portnoy blows commercial rock drummers like Dave Grohl and Chad Smith out of the water. Just listen to his fills on World Without End by Neal Morse or Sola Scriptura. You'll see!

7 James Sullivan James 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 alternative metal/ metalcore... read more

He has nowhere near the recognition he deserves. His talent on the drums is second to none. I think the reason he is often overlooked is that the people who are often placed ahead of him were part of much bigger and more popular bands.

I mean, just look at Ringo Starr. He couldn't do any complex pieces and often stuck to simple, bland beats. If he wasn't part of arguably the biggest band of all time, I don't believe he would even be mentioned. The Rev, I believe, stands at least in the top three of all time. It's just a shame that people don't know who he is, as Avenged Sevenfold aren't exactly a household name.

8 Joey Jordison Joey Jordison, was an American musician, songwriter, and record producer, best known for his work as the former drummer and co-songwriter for the heavy metal band Slipknot as well as guitarist in the Horror-punk band Murderdolls. He is the co-founder and drummer for the Blackened Death Metal band Sinsaenum... read more

Joey Jordison was the drummer in Slipknot from 1995 to 2013, and he's incredible! His drum solos are so complex, and his speed and rhythm are just flawless. Watch one of Slipknot's live performances, and you'll see that Joey just gets lost in his drumming.

It's impossible to hear one of Slipknot's songs and not have the drums pounding in your head for the next three days, and that's all because of this rock legend.

I'm a huge JJ fan. He's just too fast and has insane drum fills and double bass kicks! One of the greatest and best drummers ever! Just listen to Slipknot's songs "All Hope Is Gone" and "The Blister Exists," and you'll know why!

Neil Peart is still the best, of course. There's something about his drumming that separates him from other great drummers. No need to explain further.

9 Glen Power

Glen is a versatile drummer who can drum to any music style. Not many drummers can sing such amazing harmonies and interact with the band and fans in the way he does while keeping a rhythm. Not only that, Glen is proficient in various other musical instruments, including guitar and piano. He truly has a gift.

As far as talent goes, he has bucketloads. Turn that bucket upside down, and he will give you a rhythm. Many of The Script songs have a powerful drum beat that is often simple yet effective. Always a clean sound, and with a surname like Power - well, it says it all!

A very humble man and a truly underrated talent.

10 Dave Lombardo David "Dave" Lombardo is a Cuban American drummer, best known as a co-founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer.

This list includes some of the drummers who don't deserve to be on it. Then there's Dave Lombardo. He deserves to be among the top three drummers, right after Bonham. The rest, I don't care where you put them.

If this guy had been in a mainstream band, I wouldn't be writing this. Because then the world would have already done what I am trying to do, and this comment of mine wouldn't be needed.

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, precision, as well as speed, which makes him just the greatest ever.

The Contenders
11 Danny Carey Daniel Edwin "Danny" Carey, born May 10, 1961 in Lawrence, Kansas, is an American drummer and instrumentalist best known for his work in American Grammy Award-winning progressive rock band Tool. He has also contributed to albums by and played with such artists as Zaum, Green Jellÿ, Pigface, Skinny... read more

First off, people like Ringo, Lars, and even Keith Moon do not belong on this list. They are popular drummers that guitar players and non-musicians point to simply because of their name recognition. Their technical skill and creativity are routinely dwarfed by 12-year-olds on YouTube. Lars is renowned for being the least talented member of his band, come on!

Danny Carey can absolutely play as fast as the other drummers on this list. Listen to Hooker With A Penis live if you don't believe me. But that's not super important. Anyone can speed-train. What sets Danny apart is his creativity. Tool would be nothing without him, let alone all the other bands he's played with. His kit is so large and varied that he makes up half of their sound by himself. He studies sacred geometry and the occult. I'm 100% sure Danny sold his soul to Satan. But going to school for drums and having 40 years of experience in multiple styles also helps.

12 Ginger Baker Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker (19 August 1939 – 6 October 2019) was an English drummer, best known as the founder of the rock band Cream. His work in the 1960s earned him the reputation of "rock's first superstar drummer," while his individual style melds a jazz background with African rhythms.

The best I ever heard, with the broadest scope in jazz, rock, African, Japanese, etc. A true genius. Only the likes 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 sitting next to me, while listening to one of his long solos, that he was the greatest drummer I'd ever heard. 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 Eric's has either.

13 Ringo Starr Richard Starkey known professionally as Ringo Starr, is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for the Beatles.

Sure, he may not have gone ballistic on drum sets like many of these other guys, but he was the perfect pop drummer. He knows exactly what to play for each song and, with his vast creativity, has made many original drum beats.

The beat from "In My Life" is a completely original beat that, to date, has not been known to be used in any other song. And if so, the song probably just sounds like "In My Life."

He was also a human metronome, with perfect rhythm. He seems to be underrated simply because his beats sound basic, but try playing some of The Beatles' more complex songs like "Rain." You'll come to find that they are a lot harder to play than you'd realize.

14 Lars Ulrich Lars Ulrich is a Danish drummer and one of the founding members of the American thrash metal band Metallica.

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 like 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 a great atmosphere by complementing all the other great players in Metallica's sound. It's 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 are 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!

15 Alex Van Halen Alexander Arthur "Alex" Van Halen is a Dutch-born American musician, best known as the drummer and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen.

Probably one of the most 'unique' drummers I've heard. I mean, I can't really say he's a powerhouse like Bonham, can't say he's as fast as Copeland, and can't say he's as much of a badass as Adler. He's got a bit of everything, and his drumming just sounds 'beautiful' and adds so much 'life' to the songs instead of just power or speed.

I mean, listen to songs like When It's Love, Dreams, or Why Can't This Be Love, and you'll know what I mean.

Eddie is the star in the family, but this guy is a monster. In addition to the method in which his drums are recorded (the sound is beautiful), his technique is flawless. His changes are dynamic, and for the speed at which he plays, he is capable of downshifting in a nanosecond. Very worthy of top 10 status.

16 Stewart Copeland Stewart Armstrong Copeland is an American musician, multi-instrumentalist and composer best known as the drummer for the English-American rock band The Police and for his film and video game soundtracks.

I don't think Dave Grohl took a trip to Africa to immerse himself in the music of the natives. Although I do think Grohl is one of the most versatile drummers of our time, I believe Copeland should be ahead of him and Ringo Starr. His impeccable skills on his instrument made the Police a reggae band, able to support their sound with an unpredictable yet completely natural, jazz-influenced style and outstanding musical understanding.

He's also a composer.

Apart from Neil Peart, Bonzo, and Keith Moon being at 1, 2, and 3, this is the stupidest list I have ever seen. Stewart Copeland is unquestionably the 4th greatest drummer ever, behind them. And he's somehow at 18th? Meanwhile, the majority of drummers ahead of him on this list are random metal drummers who don't have a feel or rhythm half as good as this machine of a man.

17 Vinnie Colaiuta

As a life-long drummer, I had developed morphing lists of "best" drummers based on favorite bands, styles, genres, etc., over the years. I had a standard kind of mishmashed, mixed-up list: Rich, Roach, Peart, Bonham, Moon, Copeland, Baker, Starr, etc. Then I tried throwing out all preconceived notions and objectively started listening to drummers, and BOOM! Vinnie Colaiuta reigns supreme. There is no competition. He can play ALL styles better than anyone on any of my previous lists. The one possible exception is Buddy Rich at the height of his skills performing snare drum magic in solos. I'm sure Vinnie can do the same, but I just haven't found a recording yet.

18 Bill Ward William 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 in 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 cameraman 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 three amazing albums.

19 Phil Collins Philip David Charles "Phil" Collins is an English singer-songwriter and musician, who has also worked as a record producer and actor.

I loved Phil's playing with Genesis before he became a frontman and solo artist. He's a very talented man and a drummer first. His '70s style was very different from his '80s style, partly because of the way music was being produced and partly because he adapted to influences.

When he worked on the 3rd Peter Gabriel album, Peter told him there were to be no cymbals on the entire record (check it out). The drumming style he adopted as a result was a forerunner of the "In the Air Tonight" style that most people know him for. But I still love his much looser and busier progressive style of the '70s, plus, of course, his jazz outlet through Brand X. All good stuff.

20 Rick Allen Richard 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 has to be one of the greatest drummers of all time and definitely is the best in my book. Drumming with one arm really caught my eyewhen finding out about Def Leppard, and now that I'm actually into the band, I respect that even more.

Still managing to play the songs from On Through the Night to Pyromania, in which he played with both arms, with just one arm is just beyond impressive.

What this guy overcame - losing an arm and still drumming today with an adapted kit - is phenomenal. He overcame adversity after going through the wringer.

21 Nick Mason Nicholas Berkeley "Nick" Mason is an English musician and composer, best known as the drummer of legendary rock band Pink Floyd.

Being a drummer doesn't mean that you need to be loud, fast, or crazy. Drummers are the backbone of most songs. Nick Mason was not only the backbone of Pink Floyd's songs but also the beauty and soul of their music. His drumming is an expression of his inner being and soul, and you can hear this in their music.

It's not just the passion that you can hear in his drumming. You can also hear the expression of his inner being. His drumming shows what it means to be human - complete freedom, letting your inner self be free, with no restraint.

22 Roger Taylor Roger Meddows Taylor is an English musician , multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter born on July 26th, 1949 in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. He was the drummer of the band Queen and wrote few of many hits such as "Under Pressure", "A Kind Of Magic" and "Radio Ga Ga". Despite being well known in Queen... read more

He's the drummer of Queen! And Queen was voted number 2 on this same website as the greatest band of all time. Queen's song Bohemian Rhapsody was voted number 1 on this same website as the greatest song of all time. Queen's lead vocalist, Freddie Mercury, was voted number 1 on this same website as the greatest singer of all time.

And just listen to the drums on some of their songs. They're absolutely amazing! He can also sing very well. I am surprised he isn't higher. He should be at least in the top 3!

Whoever made this list must be deaf or not have ears! What is Roger doing all the way down here?! How is he not even in the top 20?! 40?! This list is messed up! Roger is the king (or queen) of drumming! He can also sing really well!

I'm In Love With My Car is underrated and needs more attention, as do his other songs such as The Loser In The End and Modern Times Rock 'N' Roll. His drumming is badass, especially in Fat Bottomed Girls and I Want It All. I demand you put him at number 1! Queen rules!

23 Vinnie Paul Abbott Vincent Paul Abbott, better known as "Vinnie Paul" (March 11, 1964 - June 22nd, 2018) was an American professional drummer and producer. Alongside his late brother Dimebag Darrell, he co-founded the Heavy Metal Bands Pantera and Damageplan, with whom he would find success with in the former. After the... read more

One of the greatest drummers in history! Should be in the top 10. Just listen to some songs by Pantera.

Should be way closer to the top of this list.

Pantera was one of the first metal bands I ever listened to, and it was this band that got me into metal. I wasn't really focused on Vinnie, but now I realize that Vinnie is a legend. Rest in peace, Vinnie.

24 Tre Cool Frank 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.

He is the best drummer ever because there is so much variety in his drum playing. He has the most energy of any drummer and puts so much effort into his drumming. He always makes sure he puts on a good concert with Green Day, and he is the most lively spirited person I know. If you listen to Homecoming, in a part he plays the drums while singing. That's pretty hard to do considering that he's doing hard rolls and has a huge drum set and has to be able to move around to all of them while singing. He's amazing and will always be a big part of Green Day's fans' hearts.

25 Nicko McBrain Michael 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.

Nicko deserves to be in the top 5. He can easily outperform John Bonham. Nicko is one of the greatest drummers of the legendary heavy metal band Iron Maiden. He is fast and skilled. I am very disappointed to see him at number 20. He deserves more.

He deserves to be in the top 5 at a minimum. His extreme beats are executed with a single pedal, and he has skills like the 14/8 riff that not just any drummer can perform. I think Nicko McBrain is the best in his genre of British heavy metal music.

How is Nicko ranked at 42? The guy plays endless triplets and gallops through the entire Maiden set, doing it flawlessly! Unlike Mr. Peart, Maiden doesn't take days off. They play every day, all day, rocking wherever Flight 666 can land. UP THE IRONS!

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