Top 10 Drummers of All Time
This is The list of My Top 10 Drummers of All Times
#10 Omar Hakim:
Omar Hakim is not going to be a household name to many people however he has been a top drummer in the industry for decades. First making a name for himself playing on David Bowie’s 1983 “Let’s Dance” album where he made a big splash with new guitar sensation Stevie Ray Vaughan on the record. Giant hits with “Modern Love” and title track “Let’s Dance” among others. Another major hit was landing the Sting gig playing on his first solo record “Dream of the Blue Turtles” released in June of 1985. His performances on “Shadows in the Rain” and “Moon Over Bourbon Street” were exceptional. He later went on to record for numerous artists; Chic, Miles Davis, Dire Straits, Najee, Lee Ritenour, George Benson, John Scofield, Special EFX, Weather Report, Kate Bush, Journey etc. etc. He is also a very accomplished music producer and in 2017 became the chairman of the Percussion department at Berklee College of Music.
#9 John Bonham
A member of the rock n roll hall of fame… John Henry Bonham is one of the most influential drummers of all time. Began playing drums at age 5 he got his first snare drum at age 10 and first drum set at age 15. Teamed up with Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones in 1968 to form one of rock n rolls greatest bands Led Zeppelin. Bonham’s heavy hitting and deep grooves set him apart from every other drummer of his time. Songs like “Black Dog”, “Immigrant Song”, “When The Levee Breaks”, The Ocean”, “Rock N Roll”, “Stairway to Heaven” and “Foolin the Rain” solidified John Bonham as one of the all-time great drummers. With his skill and finesse Bonham’s legacy grew steadily until his death in September 1980 at the age of 32. After his death his would legacy would grow to epic proportions and as of this writing in 2020 he is long considered by many to be the greatest rock drummer ever.
#8 Neil Peart:
Neil Peart was born in the town of Hamilton, Ontario Canada in 1952. At age 13 he received his first pair of drum sticks and practice pad. Age 14 he got his first drum set and 8 years later in 1974 Peart would join RUSH as the bands second drummer. In 1994 Peart befriended master drum instructor Freddie Gruber and began to revamp his drumming style to incorporate more swing and jazz elements. Taking his artistry to heights rarely seen Neil emerged as not only an outstanding drummer (musician) but also an accomplished lyrist and author publishing 7 non-fiction books on his travels and personal experiences. Renowned for his technical proficiency and his live performances for their exacting nature and stamina, Neil Peart grew steadily through his years with RUSH into one of the world’s most influential drummers of all-time.
#7 Peter Erskine:
Born in New Jersey 1954, Peter Erskine first picked up a pair of drum sticks at age 4! His professional music career started in 1972 when at age 18 he joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra. After three years with Kenton, Erskine when on to join Maynard Ferguson for two years. In 1978 he then joined Weather Report. After four years and five albums with Weather Report and the Jaco Pastorius big band, he moved onto Step Ahead. As a band leader Erskine recorded more than 20 albums and as a sideman he recorded countless albums from the early 70s on. Celebrated as an educator Peter Erskine is a professor at Thornton School of Music as well as University of Southern California and received an Honorary Doctorate of Music at Berklee College of Music in 1992.
#6 Jeff Porcaro:
One of the most recorded drummers Jeff Porcaro has over 1000 recordings and 100 albums to his credit in his tragically shortened life. He iInfluenced multitudes of drummers and musicians of any instrument with his tenacity and commitment to excellence. Regarded as one of music’s top “groove players”, Porcaro had a ‘pocket’ like no one else. He could take any beat and make it epic with his touch… note placement, his swing, accents, dynamics and phrasing. Jeff was the ultimate innovator too, his parts were always a perfect fit for the songs he recorded. Jeff’s innovative and melodic drumming is the secret ingredient behind the successes of many of the songs he performed on. His energy was infectious and was a quiet leader. Jeff Porcaro’s playing and the parts he created on his recordings are like the Holy Grail for pop and rock western drumming styles.
#5 Tony Williams:
Born in Chicago, 1945 Tony Williams began playing drums at an early age and by 13 was playing professionally. At age 17 Williams joined the Miles Davis Band and became a vital element helping to redefine the jazz rhythm section through the use of polyrhythms and metric modulations. Playing with all the greats from the jazz era Tony Williams brought jazz drumming into the ‘new era’ of music as he influenced many genre’s of musicians with his flamboyant style. One of the most melodic drummers ever, Tony Williams had much to say in his short life. He had eighteen albums as a band leader “Tony Williams Lifetime” and numerous recordings with Miles, Herbie Hancock, Jaco Pastorious etc. Another one of the all-time greatest models; a standard of excellence and originality for drummers.
#4 Dave Weckl:
Gaining high acclaim early on through his works with Chick Corea from 1985 to 91, Dave Weckl made a bold statement on the drumming community when he arrived on the scene. Born in 1960 he started playing drum set at age 4! It didn’t take long for the world to notice that there was something special about this drummer. With ultimate dynamic control and the smoothest actions of anyone I have seen Dave Weckl simply becomes one with his drum set. His effortless movement around the kit is mesmerizing. Also a music composer Weckl has had many album releases as band or co-band leader Dave Weckl is far more than… just a drummer. He was also an early master of electronic/acoustic drum innovations and knows the importance of not only his playing but how his sound is presented to the listener. His understanding of music from all perspectives makes it so that he is able to ‘produce himself’ per say, in real-time as he is performing. I can hear the producer with-in his head in his playing. He knows how to market himself which has helped to propel his popularity even more, today’s fans want to be connected and up to date as much as possible. Weckl knows this and he has always been a trend setter with his playing as well with his image. An educator, a virtuoso on his instrument, a music producer who knows the ins and outs of every aspect of music. You can’t find a more deserving person for his hard work… Dave Weckl is simply awesome!
#3 Steve Gadd:
This Hall of Fame Drummer is known as one of the greatest session/studio drummers of all time. His fantastic control and command of rhythm, innovative development and composition of parts has put Steve Gadd in a class all his own. His influence on drummers and on the development of popular music is greater than any other modern drummer. The sound he can create and spirit in his playing is the source of the successes of many of his ground breaking recordings. Play any song which Steve Gadd is playing drums on and before that song is over, you will know that it is Steve Gadd on drums. There are not too many people in the world with that kind of uniqueness, with an individualistic sound so powerful, so telling that you don’t have to read it or be told it, you can hear it! Any list of his recording would be way too long to list as well his live performance credits just as stunning. A very humble and kind person, Steve loves people and life and gets his inspirations from each days’ new experience. He is 100% unlimited in his capacity to learn and develop rhythms on the drums. It’s as if he gets into a trance and this emotion flows through the music and into the audience even through the speakers of your turntable. Born in a small town in upstate New York in 1945, Chick Corea has this quote about Steve Gadd: "Every drummer wants to play like Gadd because he plays perfect.... He has brought orchestral and compositional thinking to the drum kit while at the same time having a great imagination and a great ability to swing."
#2 Vinnie Colaiuta:
I chose Vinnie for number 2 for primarily two reasons. First and foremost is his versatility, he has been very successful performing and recording a wide variety of styles from heavy metal to straight ahead jazz. Secondly… his control and mastery of the technical aspects of drumming. His ability to play seamlessly through any time signature at any tempo with machine-like precision. When Vinnie plays drums it is musical mastery meets technical genius. His recording credits read like an encyclopedia covering all genres. Vinnie is one of the world’s greatest living drummers and continues to push the envelope of what is possible with two arms and two legs.
#1 Buddy Rich:
Buddy Rich, hands down is my number one. No one comes close to his hand technique executing rolls. His dynamics were a big part of his performance. He knew when that playing the most pianissimo roll up near the rim of the snare drum would capture the listeners attention and balance out the thunderous flurries around the toms and the blinding hand speed of his single stroke rolls. Born in New York 1917 into a family of entertainers. Before he turned two, he was part of his parents' act on vaudeville. He was on Broadway as Baby Traps the Drum Wonder at age four. He was a singer and tap dancer and been leading his own bands since his teens. Rich’s career began in the the mid 30’s with big bands Artie Shaw and Bunny Berigan and he continued playing in the New York area until 1942 when he entered the Army and was a Judo instructor never seeing any combat. Coming back he played with Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra. 1966 he released the Swingin New Big Band album when he covered epic arrangements of the popular play “West Side Story”. This album had a major impact on me and is one of my very earliest memories of being mesmerized by the drumming wizardry of Buddy Rich.
By Dave Haddad