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BEST DRUMMER EVER?

Buddy Rich
Neil Peart
John Bonham
Steve Gadd
Ringo Starr
Keith Moon
Carl Palmer
Gene Krupa
Max Roach
Elvin Jones
Ginger Baker
Billy Cobham
Stewart Copeland
Dennis Chambers
Jaki Leibezeit
Terry Bozzio
Bill Bruford
Hal Blaine
Mike Portnoy

Article

The 100 Best Rock Drummers Ever!

Well, here it is, The 100 Best Rock Drummers Ever! From early rock 'n' rollers, to metal powerhouses, we've listed the top rock drummers the world has ever seen.

Of course, music and drumming is subjective, and everyone will have their own idea of who the best drummers are. You might not agree with the list and that's fine. It's more of a ball park ranking than anything truly exact.

Ok, we'll start off at the bottom and work our way up to the coveted number one spot.

Note: this page has a lot of images and may take a few seconds to load on your screen.

100. Sandy Nelson

Born - 12/1938 | Nationality - American |
Group - Solo Artist

Sandy Nelson

Starting off the list is Sandy Nelson. Drumming in the 50's, Sandy was one of the guys that inspired countless people to pick up the sticks. His flowing style, and cool beats sound just as good today.

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98. Matt Johnson

Born - 11/1970 | Nationality - American |
Group - Sessions

Matt Johnson

Matt's sometimes thunderous and exciting style can get you hooked on a song. His playing with the late Jeff Buckley also demonstrates how he can build a delicate groove into a magnificent wash of drums and cymbals full of passion.

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96. John Densmore

Born - 12/1944 | Nationality - American |
Group - The Doors

John Densmore

John's playing with The Doors alone would be enough for him to earn his place in our great rockers list. His strengths are his real drumer feel and creativity. Not every note is perfectly in time, but that's what makes it sound so good.

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94. Jose Pasillas

Born - unknown | Nationality - American |
Group - Incubus

Jose Pasillas

Rock drumming with a hint of hip-hop and latin is probably the best way to describe Jose's sound. His playing with Incubus is always thoughtful, tasteful, and for the song, and he can also provide an interesting solo too.

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92. Dave Grohl

Born - 01/1969 | Nationality - American |
Group - Nirvana, QOTSA

Dave Grohl

Dave's powerful, fat, hard rock beats with Nirvana and later with Queens Of The Stone Age, Juliette And The Licks, and Killing Joke all demonstrate why he is considered one of the most popular drummers around.

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90. Zak Starkey

Born - 09/1965 | Nationality - British |
Group - Oasis, The Who

Zak Starkey

Standing in as drummer for The Who, and doing a stint with indie rockers Oasis among others, has helped Zak truly step out of his dad's shadow. He has earned his reputation as a creative and intelligent player.

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88. Phil Selway

Born - 05/1967 | Nationality - British |
Group - Radiohead

Phil Selway

Not ever overplaying on a song isn't as easy as it seems, but Phil always finds the best groove for Radioheads music and adds interesting and intricate drum parts, earning him a place on our list.

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86. Fred Coury

Born - 10/1964 | Nationality - American |
Group - Cinderella

Fred Coury

Piercing rock grooves and a solid, hard style are part of what makes Fred such a great player. He always brings his best to the table and plays with taste and class.

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84. Phil Taylor

Born - 09/1954 | Nationality - British |
Group - Motorhead

Phil Taylor

Solid, powerful, fast, hard, and rockin'. These words really sum up the playing of Phil Taylor with Motorhead. Blazin' rolls and cracking back beats launched him and the band into the rock 'n' roll big time.

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82. Brian Mantia

Born - 1964 | Nationality - American |
Group - Primus, Guns N' Roses, Praxis, Godflesh

Brian Mantia

What makes Brian 'Brain' Mantia one of the world's best players is his versatility. That's perhaps why he's played with some of the most demanding acts around. He's techincally great, and plays with a real intensity.

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80. Tomas Haake

Born - 07/1971 | Nationality - Swedish |
Group - Meshuggah

Tomas Haake

As drummer with Swedish metal band Meshuggah, Tomas uses his very technical style of playing to great effect. His polyrhythms are both baffling and amazing at the same time. One of Sweden's best rock drummers.

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78. Larry Mullen Jr.

Born - 10/1961 | Nationality - Irish |
Group - U2

Larry Mullen Jr

Often overlooked, Larry's playing is deceptively clever. Simple drum parts can often be the best and Larry delivers them beautifully, but he can also turn it up a gear when it's needed.

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76. Mick Fleetwood

Born - 06/1947 | Nationality - British |
Group - Fleetwood Mac

Mick Fleetwood

As drummer for Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood has prooved that he can deliver the goods with style. Never one to over do it, Mick played with a lot of taste, making him a mega drummer in his day.

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74. Pat Mastelotto

Born - 09/1955 | Nationality - American |
Group - Mr. Mister, King Crimson, XTC

Pat Mastelotto

Pat Mastelotto has played with many great rock acts and has been an in-demand studio drummer too. He's a powerful and driving drummer with heaps of feel, style, and creativity.

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72. John Weathers

Born - 02/1947 | Nationality - British |
Group - Gentle Giant

John Weathers

John Weathers is best known for his drumming with prog rock band Gentle Giant. Apart from his drumming skills, he could pull some of the best drumming faces ever when he played.

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70. Dennis Thompson

Born - 09/1948 | Nationality - American |
Group - MC5

Dennis Thompson

Dennis Thompson is best known for drumming with punk rockers MC5. He got the nickname "Machine Gun" because of his super fast, hard-hitting style resembling a Tommy Gun.

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68. Clive Burr

Born - 03/1957 | Nationality - British |
Group - Iron Maiden

Clive Burr

Clive Burr was drummer with Iron Maiden on their first 3 records. He was brilliant at coming up with drum parts to match the band's guitar and bass riffs, and had a raw and powerful style.

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66. JoJo Mayer

Born - 01/1963 | Nationality - Switzerland |
Group - Nerve, Sessions

JoJo Mayer

Starting out in jazz but moving into jungle and rock, JoJo has made a name for himself as a great technical player, and does clinics all over the world for his adoring fans.

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64. Ralph Humphrey

Born - 1944 | Nationality - American |
Group - Mothers Of Invention

Ralph Humphreys

Drumming with Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention, Ralph Humphrey showed his talent for coming up with great drum parts that were inventive and slick.

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62. BJ Wilson

Born - 03/1947 | Nationality - British |
Group - Procul Harum, Joe Cocker

BJ Wilson

BJ brought his creative grooves to Procol Harum's rock tunes and also had a stint as Joe Cocker's drummer too. He's got great beats, fills, and touch.

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60. Ron Bushy

Born - 12/1945 | Nationality - American |
Group - Iron Butterfly

Ron Bushy

What makes Ron one of the best players ever? Well, With Iron Butterfly, Ron showed off his pounding, primal drum beats and super drum soloing in the track In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. A real rock-steady groover.

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58. Virgil Donati

Born - 10/1958 | Nationality - Australian |
Group - Planet X, Steve Vai

Virgil Donati

Virgil is one of those drummers whos just got excellent technique, feel, and groove. His style is precise and cutting while always being full of ideas and flair. He makes it look easy and is certainly one of the best rock drummers from Australia.

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56. Jaki Liebezeit

Born - 05/1938 | Nationality - German |
Group - CAN

Jaki Liebezeit

Stark, pummelling, and hypnotic. Those words probably best describe Jaki Liebezeit's drumming with 70's experimental rock band CAN. A super cool customer.

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54. Mark Zonder

Born - unknown | Nationality - American |
Group - Fates Warning, Warlord

Mark Zonder

Mark Zonder's thunderous beats and chunky fills have been the powering force behind metal rockers Warlord's music. He's got masses of energy, and can nail the perfect beat for the song.

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52. Nick Menza

Born - 07/1968 | Nationality - Germany |
Group - Megadeath

Nick Menza

Megadeath's intense sound needs and intense and passionate drummer, and that's exactly what Nick brought to the band. He's got devastating beats, fills, and doube bass drum skills.

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99. Van Romaine

Born - unknown | Nationality - American |
Group - Steve Morse, Sessions

Van Romaine

Multi-talented Van Romaine has prooved himself to be cracking rock drummer, not lacking in ability, speed, creativity or anything else really. A great player in all departments.

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97. Chester Thompson

Born - 12/1948 | Nationality - American |
Genre - Frank Zappa, Genesis, Sessions

Chester Thompson

Chester's funky-edged rock style always brings a smile to the face. He has immaculate time and feel even when playing a tricky Frank Zappa song. But, partly what makes one of the top beatsmiths ever is that he's just as good when laying down a straight beat.

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95. Ron Wilson

Born - 06/1945 | Nationality - American |
Group - The Surfaris

Ron Wilson

Ron is a drumming icon. Back with The Surfaris in the 50's, he tore it up with his fun-loving beats. Come on! The guy played the drum part on classic rock tune Wipeout...awsome.

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93. Tommy Lee

Born - 10/1962 | Nationality - American |
Group - Mötley Crüe, Methods Of Mayhem, Fuel, Sum 41

Tommy Lee

Tommy has certainly lived the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, but is he one of the true greats ever? Well, yes! He's made a big contribution to the world of rock drumming including monster fills, power beats, and super solos.

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91. Charlie Watts

Born - 06/1941 | Nationality - British |
Group - The Rolling Stones

Charlie Watts

Charlie's style almost sounds out of time (in a good way), but it isn't. He places the notes as far on edge of the beat as he can, producing a really lively feel. He's the heart of The Stones' music and can groove with the best of 'em.

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89. Randy Castillo

Born - 12/1950 | Nationality - Mexican |
Group - Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, Red Square Black

Randy Castillo

The late Randy Castillo was one of rock's great showmen, and was one of the most talented to play with Ozzy. Big beefy rock drums, huge tom rolls, and driving beats. Just brilliant, in your face rock drumming.

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87. Travis Barker

Born - 11/1975 | Nationality - American |
Group - Blink-182, +44, Box Car Racer, Transplants

Travis Barker

Travis is one of the sharpest, snazziest drummers in the world thanks in no small part to his great technique, and unique style - a blend of rock, ska, hip-hop, and jazz. He knows how to rock out and has a great time doing it too.

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85. Vinnie Appice

Born - 09/1959 | Nationality - American |
Group - Black Sabbath, Dio, Sessions

Vinnie Appice

As the younger brother of rock drummer Carmine Appice, Vinnie comes from a super talented pack. He more than lives up to that and has his own unique style, not overplaying, but giving the music exactly what it needs.

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83. Scott Rokenfield

Born - 06/1963 | Nationality - American |
Group - Queenstyche

Scott Rokenfield

Not the most technical drummer in the world, but he doesn't need to be. Scott has a great feel, and can turn up the heat when it's called for. Slick and stylish.

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81. Steven Adler

Born - 01/1965 | Nationality - American |
Group - Guns N' Roses

Steven Adler

Most well known as drummer with Guns N Roses in the 80's, Steven's playing was hard, solid and totally rockin'. He sounded like he could demolish a house with it.

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79. Clive Bunker

Born - 12/1946 | Nationality - British |
Group - Jethro Tull

Clive Bunker

Clive played drums for Jethro Tull back in the 60's and was friends with, and had similarities to both Carmine Appice and John Bonham. He quit in 1971 to be with his family, but his short contribution has had a huge impact.

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77. Mike Mangini

Born - 04/1963 | Nationality - American |
Group - Extreme, Steve Vai, Sessions

Mike Mangini

Mike's skills have kept him in demand for sessions, Extreme, and guitar god Steve Vai. He has an amazing amount of speed and held 3 out of 4 of the world's fastest drummer records. But, he backs that up by being awsome in every other department too.

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75. Gregg Bissonette

Born - 06/1959 | Nationality - American |
Group - David Lee Roth, Sessions

Gregg Bissonette

Gregg Bissonette is a great at playing jazz, swing, and funk, but his rock drumming with David Lee Roth and Steve Vai among others, shows he can bring the rock big time! Excellent technique too.

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73. Steve Shelley

Born - 06/1962 | Nationality - American |
Group - Sonic Youth

Steve Shelley

Sonic Youth's music has benefitted from Steve Shelley's solid and groovin' style. Great use of the toms, maracas, and super dynamics are just some of his qualities.

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71. John French

Born - 1949 | Nationality - American |
Group - Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa

John French

John's creative, and stylish drumming with Captain Beefheart has influenced many other experimental musicans. His real drummer feel and grooves and right on the money.

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69. Christian Vander

Born - 02/1948 | Nationality - French |
Group - Magma

Christian Vander

Christian Vander's band Magma have a very unique sound and are generally labelled as prog rockers. His drumming with them is often virtuosic and is full of ideas and action. Some his drum solos are a sight to be seen - nuts!

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67. Brann Dailor

Born - 03/1975 | Nationality - American |
Group - Mastodon

Brann Dailor

With metal band Mastodon, Brann Dailor has recieved a lot of acclaim for his drumming skills which incorporate elements of jazz and prog rock. A lot of cool, fast fills are is his trademark, and he's seen as one of the best rock drummers of recent times.

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65. Josh Freese

Born - 12/1972 | Nationality - American |
Group - A Perfect Circle, The Vandals, Devo, Nine Inch Nails

Josh Freese

Josh's versatility, speed, and precision have earned him the name The Bruce Lee Of Drums. His tasteful rock drumming has kept him in-demand for sessions with many big name artists. Cool.

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63. Chad Wackerman

Born - 03/1960 | Nationality - American |
Group - Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Sessions

Chad Wackerman

The fact that Chad has played with people like Frank Zappa and Steve Vai goes to show how good he is. His technique, stamina, and limb independence are oustanding, not to mention his groove and style.

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61. Richard "Pistol" Allen

Born - 08/1932 | Nationality - American |
Group - Funk Brothers (Mowtown)

Richard Allen

As one of the talented drummers in the Mowtown house band, Richard took his jazz drumming background and turned it into some of the greatest pop/rock drumming ever. Full of feel with an irrestistable grooviness, and a master at playing for the song.

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59. Jim Gordon

Born - 01/1945 | Nationality - American |
Group - Derek And The Dominos, Beach Boys, George Harrison

Jim Gordon

Jim Gordon was a talented session drummer in the 60's and 70's. He played with many great groups, lending them his stylish licks. His classic drumming on the album Layla still stands tall today.

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57. Scott Travis

Born - 09/1961 | Nationality - American |
Group - Judas Priest, Racer X

Scott Travis

One of the top players in metal, Scott Travis has an unforgiving style that's accurate and penetrating. He's very handy on the double bass drums and has a killer sound.

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55. Nick Mason

Born - 01/1944 | Nationality - British |
Group - Pink Floyd

Nick Mason

Nick Masons drumming with Pink Floyd was super cool, interesting, and inventive. He played a big part in creating the atmosphere and mood in those songs. A classic rock drummer.

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53. Phil Ehart

Born - 02/1951 | Nationality - American |
Group - Kansas

Phil Ehart

Classic, heavy, and tasteful. These words probably best sum up Phil Eharts playing with Kansas. A real solid technique and feel earn him a spot on the rockers list.

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51. Alan White

Born - 06/1949 | Nationality - British |
Group - Yes, John Lennon, George Harrison

Alan White

Best known for his 34 years with prog rockers Yes, Alan White uses an array of drums, cymbals and percussion along with his excellent technique to produce a quality, classy style.

Ok, that's the first half of The 100 Best Rock Drummers Ever! list done and dusted. Things are hotting up as the list continues and we get down to the coveted number 1 spot. Let's take a look...

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