(Alexandria, va, USA)
When I was a teenager, we used to argue about who was the best guitar player: Clapton or Hendrix. It's an absurd question on every level.
Same with drumming. But the question and possible answers are fun. They reveal our tastes, our ideas of what a "drummer" should be, our enjoyment of the "groups" they played with, etc.
Let's try some experiments.
I cannot imagine John Bonham playing with The Who. I can't imagine Keith Moon playing with Led Zeppelin. I can imagine Alan White playing with Rush, or Peart with Yes. I CAN imagine Moon playing with Motley Crue. I can't imagine Mitch Mitchell playing with Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, The Who, or anyone else except Yes.
Some drummers are great because of their contributions to their bands. Ringo IS great because he was perfect for the Beatles; uh, he WAS the Beatles (along with the rest).
Bonham and Van Halen are strong but dull except as counterpoise to the heavy but artistic sonic qualities of their bands. Clive Bunker could fill either role OK as he did with Jethro Tull.
Have you heard Hendrix play with Band of Gypsys? His drummer was Buddy Miles. This is the most plodding, beat-driven drummer I've ever heard (on those records, anyway). A solid foundation, yes. And there is absolutely NO magic. Hendrix needed Mitch Mitchell. And Mitchell was great with Hendrix.
I have no clue what Mitchell is like outside of Hendrix, but I know what Hendrix was like without Mitchell. A great virtuoso, but not an interesting band.