50 Greatest Drummers in Music History

19 Apr 2023

Our thoughts immediately turn to the men occupying the center stage and standing out in front of rock or jazz bands: the lead guitarist or lead singer. One person, though, who was able to bring everything together, is still not given enough credit. We'll never be able to completely forget the greatest drummers in human history.

Roger Hawkins

Some very influential people in the music business were impressed by Roger Hawkins, notably the famed producer Jerry Wexler, with whom he actually coined the crucial phrase "rhythm & blues." Despite that success, Wexler thought of Hawkins as "the best drummer in the world," and he inspired him. 

He sang songs by Aretha Franklin, the Staple Singers, and Percy Sledge, including When a Man Loves a Woman, Chain of Fools, and I'll Take You There.

Roger Hawkins (1).jpg?format=webp@Roger Hawkins/Alvin Adame/YouTube.com

Clifton James

In 1955, when I released the Bo Diddley record, it completely changed the music industry. Beethoven was thrown into the trash pail by white children. Clifton James undoubtedly had a significant impact on the bridging of jazz and rock & roll. 

James was raised in Chicago with 13 siblings from impoverished beginnings and learned how to play on chairs and tin cans. Along with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, and Sonny Boy Williamson, he played drums for many more Chicago blues greats.

Clifton James (1).jpg?format=webp@LowDownSlim/Reddit.com

Al Jackson Jr.

Drummers are adept at keeping the beat of a tune, but none did it better than Al Jackson Jr., who was dubbed "the Human Timekeeper" over his lengthy career. 

Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Al Green were just a few of the renowned musicians whose sounds were influenced by that clear, grooving sound. In reality, Jackson ended up helping Al Green write Let's Stay Together, one of his most well-known songs. He performed for Hold On, I'm Coming, Soul Man, and other songs.

Al Jackson Jr. (1).jpg?format=webp@Nov. 27, 1935 Al Jackson Jr., Green Onions/Remember Our Music/YouTube.com

Mitch Mitchell

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's drummer, Mitch Mitchell, developed a passion for music from a young age. It's not surprising, given his sound and style, that he has received more praise from musicians than almost any other drummer. He "played the kit like a song, it was really beautiful," Queen's Roger Taylor stated. Despite [his] brilliant riffs and fusion of jazz technique, the entire kit is being attacked with a rolling, vicious assault. complete incorporation into the music. not merely keeping the time. Even Stewart Copeland of the Police gave Mitchell a lot of credit for inspiring him. 

Mitch Mitchell (1).jpg?format=webp@Mitch Mitchell: Drum Solo with Jimi Hendrix/DRUMMERWORLD VIDEOS/YouTube.com

Carlton Barrett

Carlton Barrett is responsible for much of reggae music. The tom-tom drum and cracking snare of "Carlie," as Barett like to be called, may be heard on some of the most well-known reggae tunes ever made. In addition, he is credited with creating the distinctive "one drop" rhythm, which can be heard with almost all reggae songs. He first appeared in Bob Marley's solo band. Barrett has claimed that "excellent reggae drummers make playing a spiritual experience" in reference to drumming. 

Carlton Barrett (1).jpg?format=webp@Zerotodrum/Reddit.com

Carmine Appice

Carmine Appice is the drumming equivalent of the drumming bible. The Realistic Rock Drum Method, which was published in 1972, has since gained notoriety as a must-read for anyone who aspires to play drums like a rock star. 

Regarding his achievements, the musician said, "I pioneered the use of large drum sets and performed with the butt end of the sticks early on. Because there were no public address systems, I did it.

Carmine Appice (1).jpg?format=webp@Realistic Double Feet: Solos & Studies to Get Your Feet Together by Carmine Appice/Hal Leonard Video/ YouTube.com

Gene Krupa

Neil Peart stated that Gene Krupa "was the first rock drummer, in very many respects" in a 2015 interview with NPR. He was the first drummer to hold the spotlight and be recognized for his solos. He performed fundamentally simple tasks, but he always made them appear amazing. 

Krupa demonstrated that playing the drums isn't only about the music; it's also a sport and a show, and he is widely regarded as the father of drumset artistry today.

Gene Krupa (1).jpg?format=webp@Gene Krupa "Sing, Sing, Sing" on The Ed Sullivan Show/The Ed Sullivan Show/YouTube.com

Larry Mullen Jr.

Given that he is the drummer and co-founder of the rock group U2, you may recognize the name Larry Mullen Jr. Larry, who is originally from Ireland, co-founded the band in 1976 after placing a notice on the notice board at the school. 

He had no idea that he would eventually win 22 Grammy Awards and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Larry is renowned for his unusual, almost military-style drumming, which he honed while participating in marching bands as a young child. 

Larry Mullen Jr. (1).jpg?format=webp@U2 Soundcheck Drum- ROBY MULLEN/Robithefly/YouTube.com

Dave Grohl

The drummer who contributed to creating Nirvana's incredible sound is Dave Grohl. Kurt contacted me and said, "I got the best drummer in the world today," according to Butch Vig, the band's blockbuster album Nevermind's producer. He performs louder and more forcefully than anyone I've ever met. 

Can you picture receiving such a compliment from one of the best? All of this is coming from a musician who developed his skills on a temporary drum kit in the DC suburbs.

Dave Grohl (1).jpg?format=webp@Dave Grohl - Smells Like Teen Spirit (@ the Ford)/zoostation5000/YouTube.com 

Steve Gadd

According to jazz artist Chick Corea, "Every drummer wants to perform like Gadd because he plays perfect." He has a fantastic creativity and a great ability to swing, and he has introduced orchestral and compositional ideas to the drum kit. 

In fact, Gadd brought a subtle, deep funk to rock music that most listeners had never even heard of. One of his best-known compositions is the hypnotic syncopation of Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.

Steve Gadd.jpg?format=webp@Krokodrillo/Reddit.com

Elvin Jones

In a 1977 interview with Down Beat, Jones stated, "There is nothing novel about timekeeping; it's just that some people can maintain better time than others." The nuances of timekeeping can be used to a greater extent if you are more sensitive to rhythmic pulses than others are. 

Jones kept time so well that a computer today probably couldn't have done it any better. John Bonham, Mitch Mitchell, and Ginger Baker are just a few of the people he inspired with his compositions.

Elvin Jones (1).jpg?format=webp@Elvin Jones Magnificent Drum Solo/Drumfluence/YouTube.com

Levon Helm

Levon Helm, who was born in Marvell, Arkansas, spent a large portion of his boyhood in the 1950s and 1960s touring with Ronnie Hawkins' band around the United States and Canada. 

Helm began supporting Bob Dylan on his first electric tour in 1965, and a few years later, in 1968, they made the decision to start their own band. Dylan remarked that Helm was "one of the last truly great spirits of my or any other generation" after his departure.

Levon Helm (1).jpg?format=webp@Levon Helm Ramble At The Ryman "Ophelia" on PBS/Martin Fischer/YouTube.com

Ian Paice

Heavy metal music is said to have been greatly influenced by Ian Paice. He is likely most remembered for his stint with Deep Purple, who he played drums for on popular songs including Smoke on the Water and Hush. Paice, according to Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse, "has a swing that seems just right. And he has excellent dynamics. He is referred to as the Steve Gadd of rock by Van Romaine, the drummer in my trio.

Ian Paice (1).jpg?format=webp@Ian Paice Drum Solo 2017/Vidéodrome 60/YouTube.com

Cindy Blackman

American jazz and rock drummer Cindy Blackman is the first female artist to appear on this list. When she joined Lenny Kravitz's live band in 1993, she rose to fame and changed the trajectory of her career, going from Tony Williams-style jazz to a rock artist who performs in arenas. 

Blackman has since collaborated with artists like Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Simmons, Ron Carter, Sam Rivers, Cassandra Wilson, Angela Bofill, Buckethead, Bill Laswell, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Henderson, and Joss Stone in addition to recording several solo jazz albums. She is also Carlos Santana's wife, the rock musician!

Cindy Blackman (1).jpg?format=webp@Cindy Blackman Santana - Vic Firth Signature Stick Product Spotlight/Cindy Blackman Santana/YouTube.com

Dave Lombardo

Many of his fellow musicians have referred to Dave Lombardo, who was born in Cuba, as a speed demon. Lombardo received the moniker A.D.Dave after joining Slayer for his seamless ability to keep up with intense rager songs like Angel of Death. 

The drum solo in the song, War Ensemble, which Lombardo repeated while relying on his Latin jazz inspirations, is extraordinarily original and compelling. The tune's highest speed is 210 beats per minute. Described as a "caffeine head" by artist Matthew Barney, it seems as though he was born to play the drums. 

Dave Lombardo (1).jpg?format=webp@10 Times Dave Lombardo Was the Best Drummer on Earth/Loudwire/YouTube.com

Clyde Stubblefield and John “Jabo” Starks

John "Jabo" Starks had a history in jazz and blues, while Clyde Stubblefield, often known as Mr. Funky Drummer, had more of an R&B background. The two had different styles, yet they blended well together, frequently enhancing one other's advantages and making up for each other's shortcomings. The Hip Hop Golden Era would be marked by their artistic brilliance.

Clyde Stubblefield and John Jabo Starks.jpg?format=webp@Zerotodrum/Reddit.com

Travis Barker

Despite having performed as a frequent collaborator with different hip hop artists, Travis Barker is best known as the current drummer for the punk-rock band Blink-182. He was born and raised in sunny California. 

Barker, who is now 47, developed a liking for drumming at a young age. He started out as a member of the Aquabats in 1996, but it wasn't until 1998 that he left the group to form Blink-182. Unquestionably, Barker has made a name for himself as a talented drummer over the years.

Travis Barker (1).jpg?format=webp@The Genius Of Travis Barker/Drumeo/YouTube.com

Danny Carey

In 1990, Danny Carey became a member of Tool, one of the most influential and iconic bands in the heavy metal genre. Carey is undoubtedly one of the most recognized rock drummers of his generation. Standing six feet five inches tall, he is a behemoth on stage and in person. 

His secret is in fusing an immensely strong force and a fluid feel with a sensitive technique of strange meters and polyrhythms. All you have to do to truly understand his talent is to listen to Tool perform.

Danny Carey (1).jpg?format=webp@Danny Carey | "Pneuma" by Tool (LIVE IN CONCERT)/Vic Firth/YouTube.com

Dave Garibaldi

There is no denying that some of the top drummers in the world are inspired by Dave Garibaldi. This includes Chad Smith, the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who cites Garibaldi as one of his all-time favorite drummers and claims that "His drumming... moved me to another level." 

Garibaldi started out in music by performing with James Brown. James Brown's fanbase was expanded by his late 1970s rhythms, which were also a major component of the group's smash song What Is Hip? Later, he performed with other well-known bands, including the Beastie Boys.

Dave Garibaldi (1).jpg?format=webp@The Most Important Beat I Ever Learned - David Garibaldi (Drumeo)/The Most Important Beat I Ever Learned - David Garibaldi (Drumeo)/YouTube.com

Billy Cobham

Billy Cobham, a Panamanian native, is regarded by many music reviewers as the standard for what came to be known as "fusion drumming." Drumming in fusion bands mixes the amazing improvisational jazz agility with the head-banging rock force that later came to rule bands. 

On several of Miles Davis' records, where he initially made an appearance behind Miles Davis, he met guitarist John McLaughlin. Together, the two would establish a mood that the Mahavishnu Orchestra would eventually emulate. 

Billy Cobham (1).jpg?format=webp@Billy Cobham Drum Solo - Drumeo/Drumeo/YouTube.com

Earl Palmer

Earl Palmer, who was born in New Orleans, contributed to the development of much of the exquisite improvisational jazz for which the city is renowned. Palmer as a result became one of the drummers who has been recorded the most throughout history. 

Earl took over, and according to Carol Kaye, another band member, "he was the greatest drummer I'd ever heard." Songs like La Bamba, Summertime Blues, You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling, and You Just Sent Me feature a lot of his rhythms. 

Earl Palmer.jpg?format=webp@BirdBurnett/Reddit.com

Steve Adler

Steven Adler, a musician from Ohio, is best known for his work as a co-writer and former drummer for the hard rock band Guns N' Roses. Adler grew to popularity and enjoyed great success with the band in the late 1980s, but he was sacked from the group in 1990 due to substance misuse. 

The 67-year-old has now moved around to various bands. However, it is undeniable that he is talented, particularly in light of the fact that he was elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 while a member of Guns N' Roses.

Steve Adler (1).jpg?format=webp@Steven Adler - Rocket Queen - Guns N' Roses/Soultone Cymbals/YouTube.com

Carter Beauford

Since every audience is unique, we want to try to talk to them specifically or convey a different message each time we perform. When you play the same thing repeatedly, word will spread. When speaking to Guitar Center, Carter Beauford described his approach to playing the drums as follows. 

He contributed significantly to the sound of the Dave Matthews Band as a founding member by using many of his insanely difficult and busy licks.

Carter Beauford (1).jpg?format=webp@Carter Beauford | "Shake Me Like A Monkey" by Dave Matthews Band/Vic Firth/YouTube.com

Jack DeJohnette

Jack DeJohnette was always meant to be a musician, but he never really had any intentions of being a drummer. Jack started learning how to play the piano at the age of four and didn't pick up a drum kit until he was 18 years old. 

Later on, he would perform alongside Miles Davis, a musician he deeply liked. The renowned musician said, Miles liked the drums, so it was amazing to play with Miles. Drums were the source of all that was. He was a big enthusiast of boxing and thought jazz drums had something in common with fighting. 

Jack DeJohnette (1).jpg?format=webp@LeastCoolUser/Reddit.com

Ramon “Tiki” Fulwood

Drummer Ramon Fulwood played for the funk ensembles Parliament and Funkadelic. Grady Thomas, the group's lead vocalist, praised Fulwood by saying, "Man... [Ramon] was the hardest foot drummer I ever heard!" 

A band lore claims that Fulwood begged his mother to let him go on tour when he was just 17 years old and would sneak into the clubs to play his drums. Later, his distinctive, forceful drumming came to characterize him, making him a drummer to be admired.

Ramon “Tiki” Fulwood (1).jpg?format=webp@Remembering Ramon Tiki Fulwood/DrumTalkTV/YouTube.com

Jerry Allison

Buddy Holly is a name that almost everyone is familiar with, yet few people are familiar with Jerry Allison. But it's true to claim that one would not exist without the other. The first person Buddy Holly worked with was Jerry Allison. Together, they developed into a renowned guitar and drum team that produced songs that rose to fame across the country. 

They also pioneered the use of recording studios by a rock and roll band, setting a precedent that transformed the music business.

Jerry Allison (1).jpg?format=webp@BirdBurnett/Reddit.com

Phil Rudd

Australian-born and -raised Phil Rudd originally rose to prominence as the drummer for the rock group AC/DC, with whom he performed from 1975 to 1983 and again from 1994 to 2015.

Rudd has clearly established a name for himself throughout the years, and in 2003, he and the other band members were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rudd, who is lauded by colleagues like KISS drummer Eric Singer for his big rhythm and steady backbeat, has been called "the heart and soul of AC/DC." 

Phil Rudd (1).jpg?format=webp@Phil Rudd - Backstage Rehearsal (Head Job)/AC/DC Brasil/YouTube.com

Jim Keltner

One of the luckiest drummers who has ever taken up two sticks and walked up to his drum kit is Jim Keltner, who is quite likely one of the best drummers ever. 

But his stellar career wasn't only the result of pure luck. Having performed with artists such as Harry Nilsson, the Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, Randy Newman, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, the Pretenders, Fiona Apple, Oasis, and, of course, the Beatles, Keltner has ultimately emerged as one of music's most renowned drummers.

Jim Keltner (1).jpg?format=webp@OTR Vol. 3 - Jim Keltner - Part 1/Off The Record with the drum doctor/YouTube.com

Bernard Purdie

Even though Bernard Purdie was born and raised in Maryland, the early 1960s saw widespread use of the nickname "Mississippi Bigfoot" in New York. He started performing in jazz sessions there with musicians like Nina Simone and Gabor Szabo. 

Later on, he achieved success and became one of the most sought-after drummers in the entire city. He also worked as Aretha Franklin's musical director for a number of years. When he wasn't doing that, Bob Marley and Steely Dan were among the artists he recorded with.

Bernard Purdie (1).jpg?format=webp@Bernard Purdie Shuffle – Live From TELEFUNKEN Soundstage (Full)/Live From The Lab :: TELEFUNKEN Soundstage/YouTube.com

Tony Williams

Tony Williams was just 17 years old when he made his stage debut alongside the renowned Miles Davis. 

When he finished, Miles Davis remarked of him in his memoirs, "Man, just hearing that little [solo] made me psyched all over again [...]" It was 1963, and he was quite apprehensive. I immediately picked up on the fact that this drummer was going to be among the best to ever play a set of drums.

Tony Williams (1).jpg?format=webp@Tony Williams Quintet France 1990/hughenmatt/YouTube.com

Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste

After spending several months on the road with Joseph Modeliste, Rolling Stone reporter Joe McEwan criticized his drumming for being "standard technique to the wind... a stiff-armed attack, hammering out boisterous rhythms. 

He eventually became one of the most lyrical funk drummers ever to sit behind a drumset thanks to that chaotic style of playing. His native New Orleans, where he grew up admiring the outstanding drummers who created jazz and blues genres, served as the source of most of his style's inspiration.

Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste (1).jpg?format=webp@Zigaboo Modeliste "Cissy Strut" Drum Lesson (Course Teaser)/Drum Channel/YouTube.com

Terry Bozzio

Since Terry Bozzio is on this list, he isn't just any old drummer. With one of the largest tuned drum and percussion sets ever played by one person, he proceeded on a solo tour. 

Bozzio claimed, "I'm not particularly interested in the circus act element of it at all," despite this. He has opened for many renowned bands, including members of the 1980s new wave movement Horn, Faith No More, and Missing Persons, thanks to his passion with technique.

Terry Bozzio (1).jpg?format=webp@Terry Bozzio breaks down the drum beat of 'U.S. Drag' by Missing Persons/Drum Channel /YouTube.com

Bill Bruford

Bill Bruford, a gifted drummer from the beginning, was already drawing attention and turning heads by the time he made his public debut on the first five albums of the band Yes. Bill made the decision to join King Crimson in 1972, just as Yes was on the verge of becoming a household name. Here, night after night, he created brand-new music as though out of thin air. He made the decision to resign in 2009, and he has since earned his Ph.D.

Bill Bruford.jpg?format=webp@Either-Glass-31/Reddit.com

Buddy Rich

Buddy Rich, a self-taught musician with a technique that astounded many of his peers, finally gained the reputation of being "the best drummer ever to have drawn breath," according to big band drummer Gene Krupa. 

He met his buddy and adversary Frank Sinatra after landing a once-in-a-lifetime gig with Tommy Dorsey. He was the first drummer that many people in Britain had ever heard, and his music had spread throughout the world.

Buddy Rich.jpg?format=webp@BUDDY RICH IMPOSSIBLE DRUM SOLO ENHANCED (4K 60FPS - Prologue/Jet Song)/ Drum Lucidly/ YouTube.com

Ringo Starr

The Beatles once asked Ringo Starr in for an audition when they were looking for a drummer. Nobody could believe what they had heard by the time it was over. 

"I remember the moment, standing there and looking at John and then at George, and the look on our faces was like, 'What is this?'" said Paul McCartney in response to the incident. And that was the turning point, the genuine start of the Beatles. Since then, Ringo Starr has gained popularity as a solo performer as a member of the Beatles.

Depositphotos_13043042_L (1).jpg?format=webp

D.J. Fontana

Dominic Joseph "DJ" Fontana was building a reputation for himself on many of the early songs of the one and only Elvis Presley at a time when country and bluegrass bands were abandoning drummers and percussion altogether. He contributed to the writing of 1950s rock and roll songs like "Hound Dog" and "Blue Suede Shoes" by fusing hillbilly music with that genre. Many music journalists observed that with D.J. on stage, Elvis had been given a platform from which to perform.

D.J. Fontana (1).jpg?format=webp@How to Play Drums on Hound Dog by Elvis Presley with D.J. Fontana/iVideosongs/YouTube.com

Charlie Watts

When Charlie Watts was performing with the extremely reputable Blues Incorporated, Mick Jagger unexpectedly persuaded him to join his new group, The Rolling Stones. 

Most people thought Jagger couldn't afford the emerging star back then, but he ended up making the finest professional choice by joining their band. Hit songs like Satisfaction and Sympathy for the Devil were the result of his drumming prowess.

Charlie Watts (1).jpg?format=webp@Charlie Watts’ Greatest Rolling Stones’ Drum Licks/DJ Gerry from Starlight Music/YouTube.com

Benny Benjamin

He had a special talent for playing several rhythms simultaneously. He maintained the speed more accurately than a metronome because to his steady pulse. Berry Gordy, the man behind Motown, is quoted as saying that. Berry would frequently decline to perform in the studio unless Benny Benjamin was also present. Other outstanding performers, like the one and only Stevie Wonder, were inspired by Benjamin, a mainstay of the Motown scene.

Benny Benjamin.jpg?format=webp@Zerotodrum/Reddit.com

Stewart Copeland

When Stewart Copeland was an adult, his voice was the result of his global experience. Copeland traveled extensively in the Middle East as a result of his father's work as a diplomat, Miles, before returning to his own England. 

Much of the music he contributed to the band the Police was ultimately influenced by the time spent abroad. It helped me realize that it's all about how he plays and approaches his drums, as Sting put it. 

Stewart Copeland (1).jpg?format=webp@Stewart Copeland's Approach To A Backbeat/Drum Channel/YouTube.com

Jeff Porcaro

Not only was Jeff Porcaro a fantastic drummer, but he also had a huge impact on rock music from the 1970s to the 1990s. His achievements were pretty remarkable. For instance, his stick work ultimately led to the creation of the catchy beat for Michael Jackson's Beat It.

When Jeff was in the studio, it seemed as though he was photographing lightning, according to Jeff's brother. It was never monotonous. He always had the best ideas for the songs right away, as if he had been performing them for years. 

Jeff Porcaro (1).jpg?format=webp@BirdBurnett/Reddit.com

Steve Smith

Make sure to thank Steve Smith the next time you're rocking out to the excellent song Don't Stop Believin'. His rock & roll drumming contributed to the inspiration and creation of Journey's classic song. 

Smith is a part of this significant watershed moment in American media, he said in an interview with jazz musician Peter Erskine. Then here's Smith performing Jo Jones on the hi-hat in a different context! How many other guys could play the hi-hat and drive a band like that?

Steve Smith (1).jpg?format=webp@The Iconic Drumming Behind "Don't Stop Believin'" (Steve Smith)/Drumeo/YouTube.com

Fred Below

Before Motown funk albums, which dominated most of the jazz scene and eventually served as an inspiration for more contemporary rock and roll, there was Fred Below. Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Howlin' Wolf all became well-known thanks to his efforts. 

Following jazz, Below moved into the blues, which he had no prior experience with but which ultimately became a mainstay thanks to songs like I'm Ready and Chuck Berry's School Days.

Fred Below (1).jpg?format=webp@LowDownSlim/Reddit.com

Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann

When they introduced Mickey Hart to Bill Kreutzmann, someone up there was looking out for the rock and roll community. The two of them ultimately came together to form the first double-drummer bands in the history of rock & roll. 

Bill and I speak the same language, but it is not spoken, remarked Hart. "It's a secret language that we cannot describe. It's body language, winks, and movement." The two's drumming duet ultimately developed into an entirely improvisational style of music, thrilling music lovers everywhere.

Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann (1).jpg?format=webp@Ad-579/Reddit.com

Tony Allen

Tony Allen was renowned for constantly pushing the limits of rock and roll. He was regarded as a "groove machine" with radically polyrhythmic abilities by some of the greatest in the business, with the co-inventor of Afrobeat remarking, "It's fantastic.. the way you play one wouldn't even need a percussionist." 

By fusing the jazz and funk that had swept over the United States with the native West African highlife, apala, and Nigerian mambo, Tony Allen introduced American music to Africa. 

Tony Allen (1).jpg?format=webp@Tony Allen - Wolf Eats Wolf/Tony Allen Afrobeat/YouTube.com

James Gadson

Many people believe James Gadson to be one of the most significant drummers in the Los Angeles music scene. He was a key component of both Bill Withers' band and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band. 

He continued to perform with some of the top acts on the local record labels, including the Jackson 5, the Temptations, and even Marvin Gaye, despite his commitments to his full-time ensembles. All this Los Angeles babble from a Kansas City native. 

James Gadson (1).jpg?format=webp@James Gadson from his Funk/R&B Drumming tape/Bart Vanderzee/YouTube.com

Colin Trevor “Cozy” Powell

Prior to joining the legendary band Black Sabbath, Colin Trevor Powell, also known as "Cozy," played drums for a number of bands beginning in 1970. His commitment to playing the drums was best summed up by bandmate Emerson, who related a tale about a time when he'd forgotten his sticks. 

He was debating utilizing some downed branches from my orchard when a nearby farmer arrived in town with some suitable ones. They weren't the right weight, but when he held them by the fat end upside down, they were enough. When he finished playing his drum solo, it appeared as though World War III had started. 

Colin Trevor Cozy Powell (1).jpg?format=webp@Krokodrillo/Reddit.com

Vinnie Colaiuta

Many successful and talented musicians leaped over each other to book Vinnie Colaiuta because of his mastery. Colaiuta was able to collaborate with artists like Joni Mitchell and Sting as a result. Colaiuta is not in it for the fame or the glory, but rather takes his work extremely seriously. You're not there to be the center of attention or to show off a bunch of trash, he once stated of his profession. You're there to fit in and participate.

Vinnie Colaiuta (1).jpg?format=webp@Vinnie Colaiuta Plays His Restored 90's Gretsch Kit For The First Time/gretschdrumsusa/YouTube.com

John “Drumbo” French

John "Dumbo" French, who joined Captain Beefheart's Magic Band in 1966, had a significant role in the group. His polyrhythmic, tom-heavy sound grew to be a significant component of the band, and he even ended up functioning as Trout Mask Replica's music director. 

French eventually left and started his own magic band, which would reflect his intense and erratic approach to music and rhythm, following a bitter fight over money.

John “Drumbo” French (1).jpg?format=webp@DON VAN VLIET'S GHOST STORY: BEEFHEART THROUGH THE EYES OF MAGIC. ~ JOHN 'DRUMBO' FRENCH/The Last Music Company Ltd./YouTube.com

Phil Collins

Phil Collins, one of the most active drummers of the 1970s, worked with some of the biggest names, including Brian Eno, Brand X, and the Genesis lineup with Peter Gabriel before going on to become an enormously successful pop vocalist in the 1980s. 

"I love his drumming and I'm not scared to admit it," Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor stated of him. I think he's fantastic and not really talked about enough as Genesis' drummer. He is really a fantastic, all-around drummer. 

Phil Collins (1).jpg?format=webp@Phil Collins - Drums, Drums & More Drums (Live) [1080p]/Stoned Tripper/YouTube.com

Bill Ward

Bill Ward is credited with helping to create heavy metal, but as he bounced around from band to band, his unethical behavior ultimately hurt his career. 

He was among the first musicians, starting with Black Sabbath, to contribute to the development of the style of one of the most well-known heavy metal bands in history. Later, he joined Rage Against the Machine and contributed to their 2013 album 13, which helped them regain popularity. 

Bill Ward (2) (1).jpg?format=webp@BLACK SABBATH Drummer And Legend BILL WARD - ‘Children Of The Grave’/Ryoulive Inc./YouTube.com