My Top Ten Drummers of All Time List
A co-worker of mine and I occasionally look at “Top Ten Drummers” lists (I don’t know why we do this). Thankfully, the
authors of all of these lists have the good sense to put Neil Peart on the list. However, to my chagrin, I believe some
drummers make it onto the list just because they’re famous (like the one at Rolling Stone that includes Ringo Star…
really?). After seeing all of these top ten lists of drummers, I feel inspired to make my own. You can pretty much
disregard all other lists, as this one will actually be correct.
Below are the best drummers of all time, in no particular order as they all shred in their own ways:
Rush is my favorite band, so it stands to reason that my favorite drummer is Neil Peart. His painstaking attention to
detail combined with his overall approach to musical composition in his drumming make him, hands-down, the best drummer
alive. He alone has inspired me more than any other musician. The solos he performs at Rush concerts are stunning musical
peices all on their own. What is truly remarkable is his limb independence. There are parts of his solos in which he will
keep a simple waltz pattern with his feet while playing in a completely different time signature with his hands.
Before Rush, I was seriously stuck on Primus. Tim Alexander was their drummer at the time (and on most of their albums).
The complexity of his playing echos that of Neil Peart’s. Earlier in my life as a drummer, it was Tim’s work with Primus
that inspired me to aspire to use more complexity in my drumming.
In college, my good friend Matt introduced me to a band called Dream Theater. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fan, but I
was definitely blown away my the magnificantly stunning musicianship of this band. At the center of it all – drummer, Mike
Portnoy. I recall being abslolutely amazed at the complexity and sheer precision exhibited by this drummer. What can I say,
I like flashy drummers who play big drum kits.
This guy isn’t (wasn’t) human. I’m sure of it. He’s generally regarded as the best drummer of all time, and I’m inclined to
agree. I could never in a million years move my hands as fast as he did.
If I had a top two, (and I do) Brian Mantia would be in it with Neil Peart. Brain (as he’s often called) is the antithesis
of drummers like Peart and his Primus predecessor, Tim Alexander. In fact, I was a little disheartened to find out that
when the Brown Album came out, Tim wasn’t on it, but instead it was Brain. Over time, Brain’s drumming grew on me, and as a
result, infused a little bit of funk into my own playing. Brain favors a simpler, more straightforward style, but don’t let
that fool you. The dude can shred. Additionally, Brain’s two instructional videos are the best I’ve seen – whether you’re a
beginner or someone needing to get back to basics.
He’s the drummer for Bruce Springstein. I couldn’t name even three Sprinstein songs (my taste when it comes to music is
very narrow). Max was also the jazzy drummer/band leader on Conan O’Brien – that’s where I saw him. When I used to watch
the show, I always used to say to myself, “man, that guy with the four peice is ripping!”
Carter Beauford is the drummer for Dave Matthews band. I’m not a fan of Dave Matthews Band, but one of my former bandmates,
Keith, was. I’ve heard enough to know that Carter is actually probably better that most of these other guys on my list. It
irritates me to not see him on other top ten lists.
This was the drummer of the Smashing Pumpkins. Jimmy’s drumming gave me my first taste of real complexity as a drummer.
I’ve been playing some time now, and still can’t begin to play “Geek USA”.
Nobody probably knows who Christian Eigner is, unless you’re a Depeche Mode fan. Now, why would I include a drummer who
tours with a band who traditionally had no drummer on my list? For starters, and ironically, I’m a hard core Depech Mode
fan – they’re my second favorite band. Secondly, the dude can play. I recall late last year being at a Depeche Mode concert
with several of my old friends. Among them was my former bandmate, Keith. Keith was my guitarist, but has since turned
drummer. He has a deep appreciation of good drumming. Many times during the show, I remember Keith turning to me and
saying, “dude, that guy is ripping!” Indeed. There is someting to be said for being able to seemlessly add very skillful
drumming into places where it shouldn’t even fit (unobtrusively even) – all while keeping time perfectly with electronic
Dave Grohl was the drummer of Nirvana. He was my first favorite drummer. Everything I know about being a rock drummer came
from this guy. He’s not as flashy as the others on my list, but definitely solid. Sometimes providing what the music needs
aesthetically is more important than straight-up raw shredding, and Dave Grohl provided just that. You may also know Dave
as the fromnt man for the Foo Fighters.
So that’s my list. I know I left some very good drummers out, but it’s my list.