Looking to channel the legendary power of the greatest rock and roll, punk, and jazz musicians? Look no further! We’ve listed some of our favorite drummers of all time below.
Now, without further ado—drum roll please!
1. John Bonham
A true Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-er, John Bonham is considered by many as the greatest rock drummer that ever lived.
Born in Redditch, UK in 1948, Bonham (also known as Bonzo), was first recognized for his insane drumming talent as the drummer in the 1970s rock band, Led Zeppelin.
His impressive solos in songs like “When the Levees Breaks” and “Moby Dick” are still studied by musicians today and highly regarded as some of the most influential solos in modern rock history. His style is most characterized by incredibly fast bass drumming and precise rhythm. In the late 1960’s, Bonham was introduced to Ludwig drums and became a major endorser for the brand.
Bonham was also known for his extremely charismatic personality and charming spirit. His untimely death at the age of just 32 years old came as a shock to fans, and ultimately led to the end of Led Zeppelin.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Bonham as the #1 best drummer in their list of the “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time”.
2. Neil Peart
Famously known as the drummer in the Canadian Rock Band, Rush, Neil Peart is one of the most influential drummers still alive today.
Born in 1952, Peart is said to have first gained his drumming inspiration from other hard rock drummers, including Bonham and Keith Moor. Eventually, he started to incorporate jazz elements into his drumming style, even studying under famous jazz musician Freddie Gruber. During this time he began to incorporate more swing components into his music.
In 1983 Peart became the youngest person ever inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame—one of the most prestigious honors in the field.
3. Keith Moon
Known as the eccentric drummer in the band, The Who, Keith Moon still receives both praise and criticism from critics today.
His style inspired the character Animal, in the Muppets—a character often seen smashing drum kits and trashing hotel rooms. His ferocity, however, translated in his drumming performance. He became famous for refusing to do drum solos and instead attempting “to play with everyone in the band at once” (John Entwistle, Rolling Stone Magazine).
A true rock-and-roller, Moon was also known for his controversial stunts and destructive personality—which some say led to his overdose at the young age of 31. Regardless, of his personal battles, his emotional and commanding drum performance with The Who has carried on his legacy as one of the greatest drummers of all time.
4. John “Jabo” Starks
If you’re looking for some funk and blues inspiration, John “Jabo” Starks, is your man. Known for solo work as well as his music with Clyde Stubblefield, Jabo is a stable drummer in contemporary hip-hop and R&B records.
Together, Starks and Stubblefield became incredibly influential on hip-hop’s Golden Era. However, many still consider them incredibly underrated artists. Nevertheless, Jabo had a long and highly successful career, working with musicians like B.B. King and Bobby Bland over the years.
Known as a pioneer in genres like jazz fusion, world music, and heavy metal, Ginger Baker Is known as a “superstar drummer” with a style that dips into jazz and African rhythms.
Born Peter Edward Baker in 1939 in South London, Graham first made his mark in the music world as the drummer for Cream, alongside legends, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. The powerful trio combined jazz training with a distinct polyrhythmic style and long drum solos.
After the band’s breakup, Graham traveled to Nigeria to open a studio. His music continued to evolve during this time, and he is now praised for his deep understanding of African beats.
Earning a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, and the Classic Drummer Hall of Fame, Graham carries on his legacy today with a variety of musical projects. He is also known to play with two bass drums instead of one, and purchased a new Ludwig drum kit in 1968.
6. Dave Grohl
From Nirvana to the Foo Fighters Dave Grohl made his mark on the 80s punk rock and grunge scene early on.
Grohl first learned how to play the drums by practicing in the Washington D.C. suburbs, beating thick marching band snare sticks on pillows. In this manner, he became an extremely powerful drummer, and he was known for his incredibly loud and relentless sound. This sound is what attracted Nirvana front-man, Kurt Cobain.
Grohl’s incredible drumming has been recognized as one of the leading features that helped Seattle grunge band, Nirvana, go from an independent band to multi-platinum success.
After the death of Kurt Cobain, Grohl continued his musical career as lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for the Foo Fighters. In addition, he has played drums for many other rock and roll legends, including Queens of the Stone Age, Pearl Jam, David Bowie, Tom Pettie, Nine Inch Nails, Tenacious D, and others.
7. Al Jackson Jr.
Also known as the “human timekeeper”, Al Jackson Jr was famed for his incredible drumming ability and precision. Born November 27th, 1935, Al Jackson became a founding member of the Booker T. & the MG’s group working with Stax Records.
Al Jackson Jr was influenced early on by his father, Al Jackson Sr. who led a jazz/swing band in Memphis, TN. At the age of 5, young Jackson Jr began playing the drums, even performing on stage with his father.
All great drummers start somewhere. Think you have what it takes to channel these legends? Get all the equipment you need by browsing our inventory here at Drum Center of Portsmouth!