The beat of a drum gives the heartbeat and pulse of so many of the best songs in the world.
Whether the drummer was giving heavy-hitting beats or a smooth ensemble, their work is critical to a band or song’s success. Behind their legends are the drum sets that made their product possible.
With a combination of skill and technological innovation, these drummers built amazing sets responsible for great music. Their drum sets were their armor and weapon all at once, capable of delivering a rhythmic victory as they pound away.
Ready to be inspired by these drummers and their awesome drum sets?
No list of drummers would be complete if it didn’t give a nod to the pioneer of drumming as we know it. Krupa was responsible for essentially standardizing the modern drum kit – including using a kick drum and double-sided toms. He became a household name that inspired many in the generations to come to start drumming. His music came to life in a combination of Slingerland and the cymbal maker Armand Zildjian. The outcome was a powerful melody to set future standards. He produced a lot of jazz with swing influences, as well as introducing athleticism and creativity, which would later be influential on the drummers of rock’n’roll.
Part of the legendary Beatles, no one can inspire quite like Ringo Starr. His skills and understanding of rhythm remain unmatched. He would hit the stage with his Ludwig Downbeat Kit in signature Oyster Black Pearl. With ‘The Beatles’ emblazoned on the front bass, he created a visual anchor on the musical setup of the band. He and his drum set went far in creating the look and appearance of the modern drummer.
Larger-than-life drummer John Bonham left a lasting impression on the modern drumming community. He reigned as a superior drummer in the 1970s as Led Zeppelin’s drummer. He created a super-cool Ludwig Amber Vistalite kit and produced heavy-hitting, high-speed sounds on all the songs. His music is hard to imitate and remains legendary.
The Who hit American rock’n’roll with a bang. Keith Moon continued this explosion when he literally blew up his drum kit on live TV. He is known for his off-stage antics and massive 7-piece birch Premier drum kit. This was featured in the “Pictures of Lily” in an unforgettable shade of pink. Even after blowing this kit up in 1967, Moon continued to use Premier drum kits until his death in 1978. He was very experimental for his time, being one of the first to use a double-bass kit.
Peart became the drummer for Rush in 1974 and immediately set about creating a progressive rock sound for the band. He is well known for the intensely orchestrated drum parts he weaves into the constantly changing musical compositions. Over the years, he perfected a kit like no other. Sporting more than thirty pieces, he is a one-man orchestra behind the drum set. He carefully collaborated with manufacturers to create the drum set and unique sound he brought to Rush.
Another drumming revolutionary, this Cream band member brought jazz-influence with a rock feel. He had a huge sound and flamboyant persona to match. He is another progressive starter of the double kick drums. His Ludwig Silver Sparkle kit brought 22-inch and 20-inch kick drums with 14- and 16- inch toms as he wove a progressively rhythmic sound into his music. His music had a heavy African influence as he spent several years living in Nigeria, giving him an understanding of African beat few possess outside of the continent.
Hal Blaine is a staple in the Hollywood music industry, having recorded with many legendary performers of his time, including Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and the Beach Boys. He is the most recorded drummer in history – losing count after 35,000 sessions. In that mix included 150 top ten hits and 40 number one hits. His talent behind the drum set lies in his adaptability – as evidenced by the wide variety of musicians he recorded with. His kit is legendary – a combination between a Ludwig Classic Blue Sparkle and a mix of single-headed fiberglass concert toms.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience would not have been complete without this iconic drummer – who won the job via a coin toss against Aynsley Dunbar. He brought a fusion between jazz and ferocious riffs that were influential behind the shred of Hendrix’s guitar. As part of the Hendrix power trio, he supplied a certain level of improvisation. He could bring a heavy groove capable of flowing as a structured counterpoint to Hendrix’s guitar.
The Ramones have a decidedly punk rock sound aided by the rocket-power drumming speed of Tommy Ramone. The entire band blended great songs with electric guitars and lighting-level drumming. Ramone started out as one of the engineers behind Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys album before diving into rock fame with The Ramones. He was well known not just for an all-white Rogers drum kit, but also for his signature black sunglasses and black leather jacket. His recorded performances almost didn’t do justice to his unrivaled live performances – especially the legendary Live at the Rainbow NYE 1977 performance. He is an unreal drummer in terms of speed and precision.
This man provided a signature musical force behind some of the great jazz musicians – like Miles Davis and John Coltrane. His music and drumming style was unique, expressive, and powerful. He utilized smaller 18-inch kick drum, as well at Gretsch drums and the Zildjian K-series cymbals. The result was a unique sound – particularly influenced by his use of cymbals. He produced a sound akin to ocean waves while never losing time or rhythm.
The list of drummers and their sets could go on – but this list of influential drummers is a solid start. From the early days of Gene Krupa to more contemporary names, there’s been a lot of influence and change in the drumming community. Many of these drummers drew inspiration from the sounds created by the artists before them. If you are feeling inspired and ready to build your own notoriously awesome drum set, check out our Drum Sets and get started today!