Top 10 Best Rock Drummers of All TimeRock and roll music has been shaped and defined by some of the most iconic musicians in history, and among them are the drummers. The driving force behind some of the biggest hits and live performances in rock history, these percussionists have brought energy, power, and creativity to the stage, making them an essential part of the rock music scene.
From the hard-hitting rhythms of John Bonham to the technical finesse of Neil Peart, these drummers have influenced generations of musicians and fans alike. They have not only elevated the role of the drummer in rock music but also demonstrated the limitless possibilities of what can be achieved with a pair of drumsticks and a drum kit.
Neil Peart is a unique drummer in many ways. Something I notice about him that few other drummers do is put his actual talent, his creativity, into his band's music. To most people, it would be the end of the world if you asked them to listen to Rush (Peart's band). However, each song Peart does is like they are all drum solos. They are always changing. There is no end to the riffs. And oh, he is fond of using odd time signatures. Since when does Travis Barker do 7/8 time and then suddenly change it to 3/4? I could go on, but I won't.
Neil Peart will always be at the top of my list no matter what. And I hope that someday everyone else will see it from my point of view too.
No questions asked, Neil Peart's drumming capabilities far surpass those of any of his counterparts in the music scene. The complexity and insanity of the time signatures and constantly changing styles of La Villa Strangiato stand as a testament to his skill. Most other drummers would be satisfied to get bored with what they do later in life because "hey, it works," but Peart decided to entirely reinvent his even then remarkably outstanding drumming style just to keep it from getting stale. The mark of skill is being good. The mark of excellence is being good but seeking to be even better.
Long live The Professor!
Kept scrolling thinking, "Well surely Bonham's next... " Sixth? Really? I'm about to give up on humanity. It should be Bonham and Neil Peart battling for first, and Keith Moon being satisfied with third. And by "satisfied," I mean smashing his drums in disappointment.
I've got bad news for everyone who thinks the top 4 are even the best drummers today. They aren't. Mastodon's drummer makes them all look retarded. 32nd notes on one hand? Yeah, he's that good. He was trained as a jazz drummer too, so his technical precision is ridiculous. His hands are as fast as Bonham's right foot.
No one can touch Bonzo though.
John Bonham has accomplished more in 12 years than any other rock drummer in history, period. I like Neil, but it's a travesty that he is ranked above Bonzo. He is the inspiration, basis, influence, and blueprint for every hard rock drummer in existence. No one else even comes close.
Yeah, Keith may not be the most complex drummer ever, but what he lacks in complexity, he more than makes up for in power and endurance. Keith's drums needed to be buffered so as not to diminish his bandmates. He played with a drumstick so thick they called them trees. When playing in concert, it cannot be controlled. He was just a kind of drummer whose riffs ran together so much on recordings that it would seem like one long drum solo. Unless I'm mistaken, Animal from the Muppets was portrayed to be Keith Moon. Do I need to mention how powerful and long his drum solo was in the song "My Generation"? You must remember, rock represents power and emotion first and foremost, not over-rehearsed songs like the band from Canada. Rock shouldn't have poise. It's raw, that's the way it was, and that's the way it should always be. If you want something complicated, call on Buddy Rich. He would put Neil Peart to shame. Keith Moon first, followed by Ian Pace, John Bonham, and Mitch Mitchell.
Dave Grohl isn't only one of the nicest guys in the industry, he's also one of rock's greatest when it comes to drumming. His power and presence are huge on almost every song he plays, but he never tries to upstage his bandmates. He can play extremely complicated fills with ease, and he never misses a beat. He's the best drummer after Bonzo, in my opinion, and should be higher than guys like Ulrich. For the Ulrich fans who disagree, check out Grohl's work on Probot and Nirvana songs like "Scentless Apprentice". Otherwise, listening to Them Crooked Vultures (best live) is the perfect way to see Grohl's greatness.
Next to Neil Peart, Dave Grohl is the best drummer alive today. Of course, nobody hears him much anymore because he is the lead guitarist for the Foo Fighters. But we did get a good opportunity to see him on drums during his stint with Queens of the Stone Age. He was, of course, awesome! Certainly, a lot of these other guys deserve to be on this list. But in my opinion, Dave Grohl falls just under the best rock drummer of all time, Neil Peart, as the best living today.
I can hardly believe the positions of these two in this list (Bonham 8, Baker 52?). Drumming is very peculiar, to say the least. Some sound very rehearsed and predictable, while others sound very much on target timing-wise as we think they "should sound" - well-timed, pronounced, and profound at exactly the anticipated moment, with creative impulse that is conspicuous and impressive. All of these aspects deserve credit for the hard work and effort expended to get on this list. But none compare to the unreasonable creativity of these two rock drummers. They are always a millisecond off the expected tempo; they paint beats the way Van Gogh painted "Starry Night" - they decide the next moment, and we arrive. These guys determine things that the other guys realize but only worship in their quiet moments. These two are truly the different drummers that most of us will never march to because our ears are closed. They never do what is expected; they create the greatness that "is" the sound of Led Zeppelin and Cream, and forever more, what should be worshipped in the art of percussion, if such things exist.
Considering he made Progressive Drummer of the Year 13 consecutive years straight, he should at least be in the top ten. There have been drummers such as Mike Mangini, also known as the fastest drummer in the world, who told the media that there is no way he could compare to Portnoy. Portnoy consistently elevated the level of difficulty for progressive metal. But as the poster before me mentioned, it's obvious that there are some who comment only on the drummer in their favorite band. There are so many genres out there that it would only be safe to have a "progressive" top ten or "metal" top ten or "thrash" top ten, since Portnoy would be classified as the obvious choice, Lars Ulrich would be classified under thrash (his words), etc. I mean, come on. What about Chris from Lamb of God? At this point in time, he's listed as 43... that's shameful. He's much better than that. I am quite fond of the voting system you've got going on here.
Buddy is by far better than any of these drummers. Travis Barker 5? Really? Just because he can play an average snare solo doesn't mean he can measure up to the career of a man who has been playing the drums his whole life without lessons. Let's start off by saying he has more technique, style, and flair than any of these drummers. Sure, he didn't have an enormous drum kit like Neil Peart, but Buddy could make it sound like a whole coliseum of drum kits. Buddy not only played with technique, but he also played with speed, which almost all the drummers above him on this list couldn't do. Buddy was also a genius, being able to invent technical beats on the fly. I mean, come on, even Neil Peart said it himself that Buddy is the best. I think that's enough said.
Let us face reality. No drummer will ever play drums like Mr. Buddy Rich. I had the privilege of seeing this phenomenon play live on over thirty separate occasions, and no drummer on this planet will ever match the raw power and delicate finesse, let alone speed, control, and leadership, as well as adapting to the changing styles of the music world that this one individual was able to execute as if it were child's play.
Who the hell else commanded respect and admiration like Buddy did? Anyone that doubts this, let's see you try and imitate what he could do. Thirty-two years after his passing, and no challenge exists. Throughout all the adverse health conditions that Buddy endured, from back surgeries to quadruple bypass on his heart, then five weeks later on the road again...kicking ass!
Research Buddy, and believe me, you will be most humbled and inspired!
I saw Alex in concert in 1980. His speed was incredible. He keeps a cup of drumsticks in the center of his set in case he loses one. He did lose one or tossed it to a fan and quickly grabbed another one and did not lose a beat. That was at the Cape Call of Duty Coliseum in 1980.
A monster can play slow, fast, heavy, or with jazz improvisation, and does it all with feel. Always overshadowed by playing in a band with the greatest guitarist, also his brother. Check out his work on a great track called "Out of Love." Perfect.
There's no other way to describe Alex Van Halen other than a technical, phenomenal, legendary beast of the drums. Check his solo on "Live Without A Net." It is absolutely insane, showcasing his crazy abilities and technicality.
Anyone who thinks that Travis Barker and Danny Carey should not only be compared to each other but that Travis Barker should not even be on the list at all is mistaken. Danny Carey is one of the greatest drummers of all time. His drumming is so technical that most drummers wouldn't even dare to attempt his music. I'm disgusted that Travis Barker could be ranked higher. However, at least we know that the people who put Travis Barker in that rank are the ones who watched him on MTV. It's guaranteed that most of them wouldn't even know who he is if he wasn't on that show. They have no real knowledge of music.
This guy deserves the name of possibly the best drummer in history, maybe even ahead of Neil Peart, who's incredibly overrated. And Travis Barker?! No competition there. Danny has incredible speed and creativity, especially in The Pot, Sober, Schism, and Lateralus, but also the craziest time signatures, far better than Mike Portnoy. It's difficult to compare all these drummers because their genres differ from alt. metal to deathcore to progressive rock. But there's no question that Danny's playing is incredibly more versatile than several of today's metal drummers. Obviously better than Joey Jordison and whoever those Japanese guys are. Best drummer hands down. None of you guys know drums at all!
Some might not approve of his manic style (just see this profile picture of him), but it suits me (and every Metallica fan ever). It might not look like it, but his drumming, though as fast as heck, is highly technical, yet still retains a musical quality that puts Metallica as one of the best metal bands of all time. I am astounded that Ulrich is not higher on this list. Few drummers can cope with 200bpm. I know I can't (yet). For a masterclass in concert drumming from Ulrich, check out the film Metallica: Through The Never, which will not disappoint. If you just want a taster, Ulrich's drumming is fully displayed in all its glory in the song "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)," with a gentle, clean guitar groove and drum backbeat that builds up to a fast, yet melodic section filled with riffs, fast fills, and half-time changes to boot. Lars Ulrich is the best, and everyone should at least respect him as an outstanding, almost unparalleled drummer.
Bill Ward was recognized with Black Sabbath. You people who believe some unknown Japanese loser is better than Neil Peart, John Bonham, and Keith Moon, etc., but you should listen to Rat Salad on the album Paranoid, and you'll comprehend that Bill Ward is one of the best drummers ever.
Amazing, he cuts loose, gets aggressive, and hits hard, but with a positive, jazzy motion and feel to it. The interaction and chemistry he has with the whole band just makes the Sabbath sound dark, dirty, and ass-kicking. I have his drumstick, and I will never let it go!
Blues, jazz, and rock infused into one great sound. Always one of my favorites. I could not believe spiteful little Ozzy squeezed him out of their "reunion" tour. What a joke and travesty, but Ozzy has always been below board. I believe it's due to his wife.
It's notable that Copeland has a very tasteful, yet masterful approach to the drums, much in the way that jazz drummers play. His technique is grounded in jazz, and as such, he drums in a way that is technically very difficult to play but is not flashy, adding to the music in which he's playing instead of mugging for attention. He worked tremendously well as a counterpoint to Sting's bass playing, as well as actually contributing to the reggae stunning style as opposed to just conforming to it. One of Copeland's greatest strengths, though, was knowing when to take a backseat and let the other musicians do their thing.
Name me one other drummer who sounds like Stewart Copeland. That's all that is needed to say to prove that he is the best drummer. He created his own unique style of drumming based on beats he had picked up in his childhood while growing up in Lebanon and listening to Arabic music. The talent it takes to blend Arabic music and Jazz music from his dad and incorporate elements from all genres into his drumming is just incredible. His use of missed/added beats (like in Spirits in a Material World) is what propelled him to become one of the greatest drummers ever. Although he is not known for being a soloist, his drumming skills are unmatched, and his contributions to songwriting in the band were also significant aspects of his lasting legacy with The Police.
Only 38th? What?
Dave Lombardo is the undisputed king of double bass. He should be higher than most of the drummers on this list! In fact, he should have been at the top of the leaderboard. Shannon Leto is simply in the wrong genre. Tre Cool doesn't have flashy fill-ins, and Lars Ulrich, while good at composing music, is not what you would say is the best drummer.
Only The Rev and Dave Mackintosh might come close, but Rev is dead and gets a lot of sympathy votes here, while Mackintosh's fill-ins get a bit repetitive after a while.
Lombardo isn't the best because you have Neil Peart. This is coming from a man who doesn't like Rush. But second place definitely needs to be Dave Lombardo. I mean, seriously, Shannon Leto?! That guy is decent at best. And I've heard high school marching band drummers that were better than Tre Cool. The list should read 1. Neil Peart, 2. Dave Lombardo, 3. John Bonham, 4. Alex Van Halen, 5. Brann Dailor. The Rev was an awesome drummer, but not top 5.
Ringo is the best drummer ever, period. People say he isn't technically proficient, which isn't true. He isn't the most, he's more unorthodox than untechnical, being a lefty using a righty kit. But what really shines is his creativity. He's probably the most creative drummer ever with his fills. His versatility is unmatched as he drums every Beatles song perfectly. He serves the song well instead of himself. Even when he does a drum solo, it's one of the best ever, like he did in the end. Just because he isn't flashy doesn't mean he isn't good. Also, the three other Beatles and George Martin all thought he was the best drummer ever. The other Beatles wouldn't compliment each other like that, but they knew that Ringo was the best.
Ringo is a drummer's drummer in many ways, but he is also the greatest ensemble drummer. Even his solo in "The End" is more of a duet between himself and the listener. That's a concept many drummers, including the great Buddy Rich, only begin to comprehend late in their lives. They may not notice him constantly, but that wasn't his intention. He knew exactly what to do for every song, which is impressive considering The Beatles' range, and he did it without wasting a single stroke. People often harp on his speed, but you only need a few strokes if you know how to use them. The rest is noise.
I can't believe that only 4% of people have voted for Joey. He is an amazing drummer with unbelievable speed and power. Without Joey, Slipknot wouldn't be half the band they are and nowhere near as successful. It's just a combination of everything that makes Joey the best drummer to ever live. Although, he is closely followed by Bullet For My Valentine's Michael "Moose" Thomas.
This list is a joke. Neil Peart, John Bonham, and Keith Moon. They are all great players, some of the best of all time. But Jordison stands atop the foundations they built and adds his own great style. It's sad that he's so underrated because he definitely is the best drummer of all time. And he gets the number 9 spot? No, Jordison is number 1, the best of them all.
Without question, the most amazing drummer on the planet today. You know it from the first moment you watch him. There are so many other great drummers on this list, but it isn't even a contest anymore when Joey Jordison walks in.
I have been looking at a number of "Best Drummer" lists, and sadly, the Rev isn't listed on any of them. This is a tragedy! His drumming, in my humble opinion, is pure genius, easily as good as Neil Peart (who is usually listed as the number one best drummer), and I feel that is only because of the Rev's untimely death that his talent and genius will never be fully appreciated, particularly by those who have no taste for A7X's music. The Rev is indeed one of the best, if not THE best drummer I have ever heard, and listening to his rhythms, solos, and the complexity of his playing is music in itself, even without the rest of the band's accompaniment.
REV FOR NUMBER ONE!
The Rev and Mike Portnoy are two of my favorite drummers. One thing I don't like about this site is how many people are just picking favorite bands and not knowing anything about the actual drummer. If Shannon Leto was so good, why didn't he get a single award for any of their albums? No cymbals named after him? No signature snares? Really? That must mean that he hasn't done anything groundbreaking or really amazing. Mike Portnoy has won dozens of awards, and Jimmy has won several awards himself. I have seen Shannon Leto, and his drum style is so boring and exactly the same every concert. He's a decent drummer but nowhere near the best. His stage presence is pitiful, and people above are giving some ridiculously easy songs I used to cover right when I started drumming a while back. It's been several years, and I still can't touch half of Mike Portnoy's drumming or 50% of Jimmy's. People need to stop picking favorites; it's really starting to piss me off.
He can be a top ten drummer, one of my favorites. Watch his drum solo "Live in California." He has even played a drum solo with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the early 80s. But one funny thing is that when you look at "Animal," who plays the drums in the "Muppet Show," he has the same style as Ian Paice.
Ian can do more with his small kit than most drummers with their outrageous kits. Ian Paice should definitely be in the top ten. Lars shouldn't even be near the top ten. Most people that vote just like certain bands and have no idea about playing drums. These lists are always ridiculous!
I saw Deep Purple in the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. They were inducted by Lars Ulrich, a huge fan of the band. When I heard Ian, I was amazed, and I never really realized how good he was until that moment. He is very underrated and should be near the top 10.
Mitch is my number 4 pick. He had a great style. I loved the Experience, one of the most creative bands ever, and so was his drumming. As my choice, he falls just under John Bonham, Keith Moon, and Ginger Baker. All of these guys were great. I saw the Experience live on their first tour at Kansas City Municipal Auditorium. It was sold out to 10,000 people in 1970.
Mitch Mitchell is very underrated. That probably has to do with the fact that he played with Jimi Hendrix, which is understandable, but still. His drumming was very good on songs like Fire, Little Wing, and many more. He was one of the most iconic and influential drummers that ever lived.
As part of the trio, he was dynamite with his kit. He was able to complement Hendrix and still maintain his part of the rhythm section. He should be ranked much higher in the polls.
Without a doubt, one of the most underestimated drummers in the world. Just listen to the early Genesis albums. He is incredible on every single song, always bringing something new to the table. He is not only an amazing drummer technically, being able to play songs in the weirdest time signatures, not to mention his incredible speed, but he also has so much feeling in his playing that it's almost disgusting. I am confident that this man is able to play just about anything.
I am very disappointed to see him this far down on the list. I recommend everyone who doubts me to check out the early Genesis albums or just the song "Nuclear Burn" with Brand-X. I am 100% confident that no one can disagree with how much of a monster drummer this man is.
And oh yeah, when he started singing in Genesis instead of drumming, he had both Bill Bruford and Chester Thompson playing drums when they toured instead of him. If that doesn't tell people anything... I don't know what will.
A shame how such a great drummer can be this far down on this list. I love drummers like Dave Grohl, Danny Carey, etc., but they have nothing on this man. He is a genius. Very few drummers have impressed me as much as Bruford. Maybe one of the best drummers in the world technically, and he has so much feeling in his playing. Always coming up with new things and sounds. Not to mention, how many drummers can say that they have played on all the good albums with artists such as Yes and King Crimson? Unbelievable.
The fact that Bill is now in retirement hurts in gathering votes, but there is no more identifiable voice on the drums than Bill. His jazz approach to rock benefited each and every band he played with, from Yes to King Crimson to Genesis, to his own jazz band Earthworks. He is also a brilliant composer as well.
The most unique, creative, and adventurous drummer ever: rock to prog to jazz to world, Bill explored the potential of the electronic/synthesized world like no other. His recorded performances are still jaw-dropping and mind-blowing to this day.
Nicko McBrain is one of the greatest drummers in metal. I'm not sure about other genres taken into account in this list, but Nicko McBrain is easily one of, if not the greatest metal drummer. He should be at least in the top 5. McBrain is a god of drums. Listen to the albums Piece of Mind, Brave New World, and A Matter of Life and Death, and if you know much about drumming, you'll realize Nicko is unbelievable.
I'm very disappointed he's below Joey Jordison and even Lars Ulrich. Nicko blows those two out of the water, no competition for him at all.
One of the best metal drummers in history. Listen to Where Eagles Dare and Alexander the Great. He mixes everything, sounding just perfect. Besides, the speed of his feet is just astonishing. He plays faster than other metal drummers using one foot rather than two. People, get yourself informed and learn about real music.
Tre is the epitome of a drummer: he's funny, he's energetic, and he sure as hell can crank out some major beats! He is the most talented drummer out there, and I believe that he deserves the title of Best Rock Drummer a whole lot more than Shannon Leto does. As for people like Neil Peart and John Bonham, I agree that they are amazing drummers, but let's face it: their place in music history has been established. They were the best of their time, and today is a new day in a new time. So let the drummers of this time establish their place in history and not let the dug-up spirits of the past hinder them from their rightful place. Long live Tre Cool and long live Green Day!
The best drummer ever! I love him and his band - Green Day. BJ, for me, is the best vocalist that has ever been. Okay, I know that there are also great bands like 30 Seconds to Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Evanescence, and many others like that, but Green Day has wonderful songs about teenagers and our life, maybe in a funny style. But let's get back to Tre. Tre has an amazing play on drums! I read that he doesn't have one of his wrists because it got ground up! So that says that he is the best drummer ever!
When Chad first auditioned for a spot within the legendary RHCP, his agent promptly noted the likes of Anthony Kiedis and John Frusciante that his client "ate drums for breakfast." After much doubt regarding such a lofty claim, I think it's safe to say that Chad has proven to both his band and to millions of fans that he does indeed eat drums for breakfast.
Chad is my inspiration for my drumming. Ever since I heard the Chili Peppers songs, I instantly loved them. As my taste in music matured and I began to actually listen to the drums, I researched the name of the drummer, have done some research, and realized he inspires me and is my favorite drummer of all time so far.
Very underrated drummer, extremely talented. He can keep a great beat and is one of the few people who can keep up with Flea and John Frusciante (at least before). He also seems like a really nice guy with a great sense of humor.
He was a great drummer before he lost his arm and inspirational after the accident! I saw him play live at his first one-armed show at Wembley. It was incredible to see how he used both feet to make up for the lost arm. Anyone who's tried to drum will know how difficult that would be. My number 1!
Are you kidding me? This guy rocked hard, with one arm? Give the guy some props. 41 is a joke. Show Rick Allen some love for perseverance and the love for music he had to continue, at least. Who else would have felt sorry for themselves and quit music? Not this guy. He was a boss. Top 10, if not top 5 material.
Maybe his songs aren't too difficult to play, his beats aren't that complex, but what he did after the accident is amazing. Rather than giving up, he created his own drum set to keep playing. That is something to consider. He should be in the top 20.
It is shameful to be adding this guy's name at the bottom of this list, but he cannot go unmentioned. He most certainly should be in the top ten.
Check out the drumming to Sound Chaser by Yes, it's phenomenal. Then there's the likes of Instant Karma where the drumming makes the song.
Great drummer, fabulous rhythm. I don't know why he's not up there when drummers like Ulrich are up there. Why?