I’m off by a day, but yesterday marked the birthdays of two significant drummers. Max Roach, born in 1924, was a jazz drummer who played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, and others. He is also one of the top 1000 music makers of all time. Aynsley Dunbar, born in 1946, is an English rock drummer who has lent his sticks to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the Jeff Beck Group, Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Journey, Jefferson Starship, Whitesnake, and more. Happy belated!
In their honor, here is a repost of a list originally put up on the DMDB Facebook page on August 23, 2010, and then revised on January 22, 2011. 30 best-of lists (see here) were aggregated to create this one. As tends to be the case with these lists, it heavily slants toward rock drummers, so while far from flawless, the aggregate approach to creating this list should assure that this is a more representative list than any other out there. Groups or performers most associated with the drummers are listed in parentheses.
Neil Peart, Rush’s “YYZ”
1. Neil Peart (Rush)
2. John “Bonzo” Bonham (Led Zeppelin)
3. Keith Moon (The Who)
4. Ginger Baker (Cream)
5. Stewart Copeland (The Police)
6. Ringo Starr (The Beatles)
7. Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
8. Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters)
9. Bill Bruford (Yes/King Crimson)
10. Ian Paice (Deep Purple)
John Bonham, Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick”
11. Lars Ulrich (Metallica)
12. Danny Carey (Tool)
13. Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)
14. Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa/Jeff Beck)
15. Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones)
16. Buddy Rich
17. Roger Taylor (Queen)
18. Phil Collins (Genesis)
19. Bill Ward (Black Sabbath)
20. Nick Mason (Pink Floyd)
Keith Moon, drum solo
21. Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer/Asia)
22. Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
23. Maureen “Moe” Tucker (Velvet Underground)
24. Dave Lombardo (Slayer)
25. Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)
26. Travis Barker (Blink-182)
27. Steve Smith (Journey)
28. Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa/Sting/Jeff Beck /Herbie Hancock/Chick Corea)
29. Joey Jordison (Slipknot)
30. Carter Beauford (Dave Matthews)
Ginger Baker, Cream’s “Toad”
31. Aynsley Dunbar (John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers/Jeff Beck Group/Journey)
32. Topper Headon (The Clash)
33. Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins)
34. Alan White (Yes)
35. Tommy Lee (Motley Crue)
36. John Densmore (The Doors)
37. Gene Krupa
38. Cozy Powell (Black Sabbath/Rainbow)
39. Bernard Purdie
40. Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy Osbourne/Whitesnake)
Stewart Copeland, The Police
41. Alex Van Halen (Van Halen)
42. Larry Mullen, Jr. (U2)
43. Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge)
44. Tim Alexander (Primus)
45. Jaki Liebezeit (Can)
46. Billy Cobham (Horace Silver/Miles Davis/Mahavishnu Orchestra)
47. Mike Shrieve (Santana)
48. Frank “Tre Cool” Edwin Wright III (Green Day)
49. Art Blakey
50. Steve Gadd (Paul Simon/Steely Dan/Eric Clapton)
Mitch Mitchell, drum solo
51. Al Jackson, Jr. (Booker T & the MGs)
52. Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)
53. William “Benny” Benjamin (Funk Brothers)
54. Hal Blaine
55. Klaus Dinger (Neu/LA Dusserldorf)
56. Tony Williams
57. Vinnie Paul (Pantera)
58. Max Roach
59. Zigaboo “Ziggy” Modeliste (The Meters)
60. Steven Adler (Guns N’ Roses)
Buddy Rich vs. Animal from The Muppets
61. Elvin Jones (John Coltrane)
62. Matt Cameron (Soundgarden)
63. Max Weinberg (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
64. Simon Phillips (Toto)
65. Brann Dailor (Mastodon)
66. Deen Castronovo (Bad English/Journey)
67. Jim “The Reverend” Sullivan (Avenged Sevenfold)
68. Phil Rudd (AC/DC)
69. Dave Weckl (Chick Corea)
70. Dominic Howard (Muse)
Aynsley Dunbar, drum solo on Journey’s “To Play Some Music”
71. Dave Garabaldi (Tower of Power)
72. Chris Adler (Lamb of God)
73. Anton Fier (Feelies/Pere Ubu/Golden Palominos)
74. Jeff Porcaro (Toto)
75. Rick Allen (Def Leppard)
76. Alan “Reni” Wren (Stone Roses)
77. Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull)
78. Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle/Desert Sessions)
79. John French (Captain Beefheart)
80. Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth)
81. Chad Wackerman (Frank Zappa)
Gene Krupa vs. Buddy Rich
82. Louie Bellson
83. Jon Theodore (Mars Volta)
84. Don Brewer (Grand Funk Railroad)
85. Mike Giles (King Crimson)
86. Zak Starkey (The Who/Oasis)
87. Stanton Moore (Galactic)
88. Earl Palmer
89. Don Henley (Eagles)
90. Damon Che Fitzgerald (Don Caballero)
Max Roach, drum solo
91. Scott Travis (Judas Priest)
92. Levon Helm (The Band)
93. Tico Torres (Bon Jovi)
94. Thomas Lang
95. Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown)
96. Roger Hawkins (Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section)
97. B.J. Wilson (Procol Harum)
98. Stephen Morris (Joy Division/New Order)
99. Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp)
100. Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs/Winger)
Ian Paice, drum solo
Resources and Related Links:
- DMDB Facebook post
- Amazon.com The Ten Greatest Drummers of All Time. By Julian Apostate. (date?). A personal top ten list with an album selection for each pick.
- AssociatedContent.com Best Rock Drummers of All Time. By Nick Mayer. (7/7/09). Top ten list with commentary.
- BBC News Zeppelin voted ‘ideal supergroup’. (7/10/05). Roughly 3500 music fans were polled at Planet Rock Radio for best singer, guitarist, bassist, and drummer. The top 10 of each are listed.
- CreativeLoafing.com Top 10 Sickest Drummers of All Time. By Ivan Pena. (2/9/10). Top ten list with commentary and video.
- Digital Dream Door 100 Greatest Rock Drummers. Edited by tommorello. (8/16/08). Top 100 list with no commentary.
- FanNation.com Top Drummers of All Time. By R.I.P. John Bonham/ Bon Scott’s blog. (2007). Top 20 list with no commentary.
- Gigwise.com The Greatest Drummers of All Time!. (5/29/08). Top 50 list with commentary. Having a separate page for each drummer is an annoyance.
- Glam-Racket The Bakers Dozen Greatest Rock Drummers of All Time. By Todd Totale. (3/3/08). Top 13 list with commentary and some video. Includes another 13 on an honorable mention list and 13 on an a dishonorable mention list.
- HubPages.com My Favorite Drummers. By Constant Walker. (2009). Unranked list with commentary and video.
- Listology.com Favorite Rock Drummers. By Callanyvegatable. (6/16/2009). Ranked list (8) with no commentary and 7 honorable mentions.
- Listology.com Top 10 Drummers of All Time. By SgtPepper. (7/15/2010). Top 10 ranked list with no commentary.
- Listology.com …Favorite Musicians…. By Feif Umgotnn. (4/2/2010). Best-of lists for singers, bands, guitarists, drummers, bassists, and other instrumentalists. 11 drummers on a ranked list as well as 6 honorable mentions. Includes groups most associated with drummer.
- Mademan.com 10 Best Drummers of All Time. By John Brhel. (4/17/2010). Ranked top 10 list with commentary.
- MusicRadar.com 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time. By Rhythm Magazine (10/22/2009). Top 50 list with commentary and photos. Annoyingly has a separate page for each drummer. Have to click through all pages to see total list.
- MyMusicLists.com Greatest Drummers. (2006?). Ranked list of 50+ drummers. Voted and commented on by registered users.
- PhilBrodieBand.com 100 Greatest Drummers – Jazz, Rock, Skilled. (2006). Three separate ranked lists – one focused on jazz (100), one on rock (100), and a third on most-skilled drummers (50). No commentary.
- Q Magazine. Best Drummer Ever. (12/24/2010). Originally in print magazine, issue 295. Top 10 ranked list with commentary.
- Rankopedia.com Best Drummer Ever. (8/9/2010). Voter-based top 25 list with no commentary.
- RateYourMusic.com 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time. By EVH1622. (year?). Top 50 ranked list with no commentary.
- Rockband.com The Top 25 Greatest Drummers of All Time. By Slashboi. (1/3/2009). Top 25 ranked list with no commentary.
- Scaruffi.com Greatest Rock Drummers of All Times. By Piero Scaruffi (1999). Top 28 ranked list with no commentary. Another 100+ honorable mentions.
- Share Ranks Greatest Rock Drummers of All Time. By pxc0. (2009). Voter-based list with 60+ drummers ranked. Includes voter comments.
- Squidoo.com The Top 10 Drum Legends and Their Drum Kits. By Andy Phillips (2009?). Top 10 ranked list with commentary. Includes video and photos.
- StylusMagazine.com 50 Greatest Rock Drummers. By Stylus staff. (7/30/2007). Top 50 list with commentary, photos, and “best of”.
- The-Top-Tens.com Greatest Drummer of All Time. By AKPickin. (year?). Top 100 voter-based list with comments from voters.
- Turkku.com Top 20: Drummers. By Jari Leppänen (2010?). Page is focused on top 100 rock albums, but has other lists in the side panel, including a top 20 ranked list for drummers. No commentary.
- Zuko.com Top 10 Rock Bands, Guitarist, Drummer, Bassist of All Time. By Dr. Von Zuko. (date?). Top ten unranked list with no commentary.