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The best drummers of all time: the Top 20

Among the rankings published by the well-known US magazine 'Rolling Stone' is one of the 100 best drummers of all time.

In making this list, 'Rolling Stone' took into consideration above all the ability of the various drummers to enhance songs and their ability to become innovators in the use of this musical instrument. 

In any case, it is only fair to remember: although it is a ranking, there is nothing more subjective than music and everyone has their own tastes and preferences.

Getty images, Wikimedia
This ranking was produced by the magazine 'Rolling Stone'
Among the rankings published by the well-known US magazine 'Rolling Stone' is one of the 100 best drummers of all time. In making this list, 'Rolling Stone' took into consideration above all the drummers' ability to enhance songs and their ability to become innovators in the use of this musical instrument. In any case, it is only fair to remember: although it is a ranking, there is nothing more subjective than music and everyone has their own tastes and preferences.
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20. Bernard Purdie
Opening the Top 20 is Bernard Purdie, considered one of the most influential and creative musicians in terms of the birth of the funk genre. Bernard was also an innovator, having invented the so-called 'Purdie shuffle'. During his career, the drummer has collaborated with many successful artists, from Nina Simone to Aretha Franklin and Bob Marley.
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19. Tony Williams
Tony Williams was one of the pioneers of the artistic and musical movement called 'Rock-Jazz'.  Williams established himself above all alongside the famous jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis, and then continued his career as leader of other musical groups.
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18. Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste
Founder of 'The Meters', Zigaboo (or Ziggy) is considered an absolute innovator when it comes to funk music and the subsequent stylistic evolution in drumming. After leaving the band, Zigaboo collaborated with many other prominent artists in the music scene, such as Keith Richards and Ron Wood.
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17. Terry Bozzio
Terry Bozzio established himself in the music business by recording and touring with Frank Zappa in the second half of the 1970s, before joining the band 'UK' and eventually forming his own group, 'Missing Persons', with his wife Dale Bozzio. Terry has since collaborated with many artists, from Duran Duran to Jeff Beck, spanning many musical genres.
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16. Bill Bruford
Bill Bruford, a prominent drummer in the progressive scene, played on the first five 'Yes' albums and later joined 'King Crimson'. Bruford is also considered an innovator in the world of drumming due to the extreme variability of his kit, as he has always shown great interest in experimenting with new sounds and techniques, creating his own original and unique style.
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15. Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich has been an inspiration to so many drummers of different musical genres, from rock to jazz. His colleague Gene Krupa called Buddy the greatest drummer ever.
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14. Ringo Starr (The Beatles)
With the 'Beatles' Ringo Starr not only played drums, but also sometimes sang lead vocals. A curiosity: Ringo is left-handed, but used a right-handed kit, creating an iconic and entirely personal style.
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13. D. J. Fontana
Dominic Joseph Fontana was among the undisputed stars of rock and roll. In his career, he played on more than 460 RCA Records recordings with Elvis Presley, whose drummer he was during the 1950s and 1960s.
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12. Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones)
Charlie Watts was the last of the original members of the 'Rolling Stones' to join the band. Watts initially played in some blues bands, but was impressed by Mick Jagger and his bandmates in January 1963, when he asked to join the 'Stones', with whom he played until his death in 2021.
Gobonobo, Wikimedia Commons
11. Benny Benjamin
Benny Benjamin was one of the most important drummers at Motown Records, for whom he worked on many hit tracks such as 'Money (That's What I Want)'. In addition, Benjamin was also one of Stevie Wonder's teachers, who gives credit for his drumming skills to Benjamin himself.
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10. Stewart Copeland (The Police)
A founding member of the 'Police', Stewart Copeland helped to make his band's sound unique. After the break-up of his group, Copeland also worked as a solo artist under the pseudonym 'Klark Kent'.
Stax, Wikimedia Commons
9. Al Jackson Jr.
Al Jackson Jr. was the historic turntable drummer for the Soul label 'Stax'. Because of his skill he was known as the Human Chronometer: his rhythm was an inspiration for funk and hip-hop.
A. Vente, Wikimedia Commons
8. Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
John Graham 'Mitch' Mitchell was the historic drummer of the trio 'The Jimi Hendrix Experience'. Following his collaboration with Jimi Hendrix, Mitchell went on to work over the years with other guitar greats such as John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell, Jeff Beck and Muddy Waters.
William P. Gottlieb, Wikimedia Commons
7. Gene Krupa
Gene Krupa was one of the leading exponents of jazz: it was Krupa who was one of the first musicians to propose drum solos, a musical instrument that until then had only been considered an accompaniment.
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6. Clyde Stubblefield and John "Jabo" Starks
In sixth position we find a duo: Stubblefield and Starks were James Brown's historic drummers. Different from each other, each in their own way contributed to Brown's stylistic evolution and their contribution is evident in songs such as 'Cold Sweat', 'Superbad' and 'Funky Drummer'.
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5. Hal Blaine
Hal Blaine is a legend: we are talking about the most in-demand session drummer in music in the 1960s and 1970s. Moreover, Blaine was the most prolific drummer in history, having played, it seems, on more than 35,000 songs. Among his most famous collaborations are those with Elvis, Frank Sinatra and The Beach Boys.
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4. Neil Peart (Rush)
Neil Peart is regarded by audiences, critics and other musicians as one of the greatest rock drummers of all time: in particular, many consider Peart to have been one of the best soloists during concerts. But Neil is not only a drummer: most of the lyrics of 'Rush's' songs, in fact, were written by him.
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3. Ginger Baker (Cream)
Ginger Baker was a member of several British bands, but reached his greatest popularity with 'Cream'. Baker was also known for his skilful and very long solos.
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2. Keith Moon (The Who)
In second place is the historic drummer of 'The Who', who based his style on immense artistic creativity. Moon was the idol of many drummers, one of whom was Phil Collins: the former 'Genesis' drummer revealed that his dream was to play with 'The Who'.
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1. John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) 
At the top could only be John Bonham, who according to many music fans changed the way of playing drums in rock forever. Bonham's style was unique and perfectly blended creativity, technique and also a certain aggressiveness in his sound. All of 'Led Zeppelin's' albums are characterised by Bonham's unique sound, which inspired so many other rock drummers and more.
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25/06/2024
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