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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

Levon Helm

by Anonymous

Levon Helm

Levon Helm

I read the list three times - expecting to see Levon in the top ten - at worst. Ask the 100 drummers on the list (not possible for all of course), but I would beat that almost all would include Helm, with many putting him in the top 10.

Back to that drummer. Levon Helm wasn't a flashy player, merely a perfect one. The best musicians often give the impression that they make music conform to their own rules rather than the other way around, bending it to their will and converting the counter-intuitive into the suddenly obvious.

Watch this incredible performance of Van Morrison's "Caravan" and pay attention to what happens at around 0:17: The Band start the song just a bit too fast, and three bars in Levon slows the entire thing down, in the blink of an eye, like an expert jockey atop a world-class thoroughbred.

By conventional rule, spontaneously slowing down or speeding up a song is a cliché of bad music-making, but here it works. And of course the tempo he slows it to is exquisitely, achingly right.

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