20 of the Best Drummers of All Time

Best Drummers

As anyone who’s ever started a garage band knows, you can get away with only knowing three chords and two basslines — but if your drummer can’t keep a beat, you’re never making it out of that garage. Behind every great band lies an even greater drummer, and hidden away behind all those cymbals and high-hats, many of the greatest ones never get their due.

20. Tommy Lee
The comedian Dane Cook once said of Tommy Lee: “He’s the only guy in the world who fucks as often as he uses the word fuck.” So what does Lee’s sex life have to do with his drumming? Well, when it comes to banging (the drums), voraciousness counts for a lot. Lee’s actual skill level can be questioned, sure. But with the exception of maybe Keith Moon, no other drummer gives off the giddy mojo of his grooves in quite the same way, even amidst pyro, props and his bandmates’ attention-whorish antics. Beyond the rotating stage contraptions and roller-coaster-riding solos of later-era Crüe, Lee’s shameless charisma and ear for dancier rhythms gave both his band’s sound and showmanship something special… and not just Dirk Diggler special. — Lina Lecaro

19. Max Roach
Known for his work with every member of jazz’s high nobility and for his role in creating bebop, Roach not only advanced the art of drumming, he pretty much invented it. Before he came around, bands used drummers exclusively as beat and time-keeping machines. But the teen prodigy, needing space to create in the ’40s, changed the entire game. By moving the driving beat to the ride cymbal, rather than the bass drum, he made room to innovate on the rest of the kit while maintaining flow and rhythm for his bandmates — in effect turning drummers into four-limbed artists. While this seems like a no-brainer today, it was like shifting from tintype to HD overnight. — Paul T. Bradley

18. Neil Peart
In his 40-year run with Canadian prog-rock legends Rush, Neil Peart has taken the virtuosic excesses of rock ’n’ roll to amazingly absurd extremes. His intricate flourishes and complex time signatures match his lyrics about philosophy, mythology, fantasy and fame. His oversized drum set has compelled an untold number of gear heads to blow their savings on extraneous cymbals and toms. His extravagant, eight-minute-plus concert solos — in which his kit has been known to literally rotate mid-beat — are as delightful as a Six Flags thrill ride. Peart and his bandmates have gotten a lot of guff from critics over the years, but among multiple generations of musicians and fans, the 62-year-old drum maestro remains a deeply inspiring figure, always rocking as hard as he can in his trademark kufi cap. — Peter Holslin

17. Questlove
Now that The Roots are The Tonight Show‘s house band, it’s easy to forget that back in their early days, the notion of a rap group with live instruments was practically hip-hop heresy. That they eventually won not only acceptance, but reverence, was thanks largely to their drummer, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, a Philly kid with jazz training, a spectacular ‘fro, and a prodigious gift for reproducing hip-hop’s looped, syncopated rhythms with fluid, muscular precision. Questlove does with his sticks what a great DJ does with his record crate, distilling 50 years of popular music down to a few indelible grooves, serving up history in a snare hit. And on relentless Roots classics like “The Seed” and “Here I Come,” it’s history you can shake your ass to. — Andy Hermann

Read More About This Here: http://www.laweekly.com/music/the-20-best-drummers-of-all-time-5199372

Related Article: Jason Gerling


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