Ten of Our All-Time Favorite Drummers
Foo Fighters drummer, Dave Grohl once said, “I
love being a drummer. Everyone thinks you’re dumb. What they don’t realize is
that if it weren’t for you, their band would suck.” And it’s totally true.
Drummers are considered the backbone of a band and provide a rhythm for the
rest of the musicians to follow. They have shaped the sound of generations of
music, mastered beats and held some of our favorite bands together. From John
Bonham and Neil Peart to Meg White and Travis Barker, here are 10 of our all-time
Esteemed musician and songwriter, best known as
the drummer for Led Zeppelin, John Bonham takes the top of our list. Having a
reputation for being one of the most influential drummers in rock history, he
began learning to play the drums at just five years old on old containers and
coffee tins. He played in various bands like The Crawling King Snakes, the Blue
Star Trio and Terry Webb and the Spiders, quickly becoming notorious for his
speed, keen right foot, and mesmerizing drum solos. Having been listed as one
of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll drummers by AllMusic, Modern Drummer and Stylus
magazine, Bonham was truly a one-of-a-kind drummer with showmanship like no
Drummer and lyricist for the rock band Rush, Neil
Peart has been awarded for his talents on multiple occasions and landed himself
into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1983. His early introduction to music
came from piano lessons and for his 14th birthday, his parents bought him his
very first drum kit. He took lessons at the Peninsula Conservatory of Music and
performed his very first solo that same year.
Known for his heavy drum solos and distinct
sound, Peart was a true craftsman and loved to incorporate electronic
percussion to his songs. Some of his best work can be heard on Rush’s 2012
album Clockwork Angeles. Some of Peart’s greatest influences included Pete
Thomas, Phil Collins and of course, John Bonham.
Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker is, without
doubt, one of the most well-known musicians of the punk scene. Names “punk’s
first superstar drummer” by Rolling Stone, Barker is a songwriter, record
producer and drummer known for his hardcore attitude, skater sensibility and
high-energy performances. One thing many drummers love are things that give
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help energy drink. Born in Fontana, California, Barker began drumming at a very
young age and eventually found mainstream success, establishing himself as one
of the most skilled drummers of the new millennium. He has collaborated with a
variety of hip-hop and EDM artists and founded popular rock bands including +44
and Box Car Racer. In addition to his drumming career, Barker founding his very
own clothing line Famous Stars and Straps in 1999 and LaSalle Records in 2004.
Talk about a versatile artist.
It’s not often you find female drumming
superstars, but Meg White of the White Stripes has definitely made her mark in
the industry. From her distinctive stomping beats to her brightly-colored
outfits and super shy attitude, White has become a fan favorite and industry
darling. Getting her start “on an impulse,” White played Jack White’s drums for
the first time in 1997 and was immediately hooked. Just a few months later, the
two started the band the White Stripes and quickly received international fame.
Not to mention four Grammy Awards. Her drumming style is quite simple and has
been called “primal” from fans and critics alike. In addition to her drumming,
White also sang on occasion, taking the lead on songs including “In the Cold,
Cold Night” and “Passive Manipulation.” While White suffered from acute
anxiety, the White Stripes canceled most of their tour in 2007 and disbanded in
Known for his relentless drumming and striking
sound, Dave Grohl is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and most
importantly, one of the most notable drummers in the world. He is the founder,
lead vocalist, and guitarist for rock band Foo Fighters and was the drummer for
Nirvana for four years in the 1990s. He has played drums for Queens of the
Stone Age, The Crooked Vultures and was brought in to the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame in 2014. Grohl has gained endless momentum throughout his musical career
and is always on the road touring with Foo Fighters.
Born in 1946, Keith Moon was the drummer for the
rock band the Who and had established himself as an eccentric and offbeat
individual. He was introduced to drums in the early 60s and after playing music
with local band the Beachcombers, he joined the Who in 1964. Moon was quickly
recognized for his unconventional drumming style and loved to include double
bass drums in his stage set-up. During his career, Moon had built a reputation
for being rather destructive, smashing drum kits and hotel rooms. His favorite
antic, however, was flushing explosives down toilets. He was brought into the
Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1982 and was voted the second-greatest drummer
in history by a Rolling Stone readers’ poll. Moon died from a drug overdose at
the age of 31.
Born in Lewisham, South London in 1939, Peter
Edward “Ginger” Baker is a self-taught drummer and founder of the rock band
Cream. Learning the drums at the young age of 15, Baker developed a style of
drumming that merged his jazz background with African rhythms and heavy metal.
Baker founded the band Cream in 1966 alongside Jack Bruce and guitarist Eric
Clapton. He is best known for his endless drum solos in the Cream song “Toad,”
exceptional showmanship and the use of two bass drums. Baker’s talent earned
him a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Modern Drummer Hall of
Fame in 2008.
One of the most sought-after drummers today, Chad
Smith is the drummer of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers and hard rock group
Chickenfoot. Smith grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan where he began playing
drums at seven years old and was greatly inspired by bands, including The
Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Kiss and more. Known for his loud, hard-hitting
drumming style, Smith has gained worldwide prominence and was placed at #10 on
Spin magazine’s list of “100 Greatest Drummers of Alternative Music” in May
2013. Fun fact: Chad Smith closely resembles comedian Will Ferrell.
Larry Mullen Jr.
Best known as the drummer and co-founder of band
U2, Larry Mullen Jr. is a savvy drummer with a distinctive sound that developed
from playing in a marching band as a child. Keen on fills and drum rolls,
Mullen has been said to have an extraordinary sense of rhythm and recorded 15
studio albums with U2.
Rolling Stone ranked Mullen the 96th greatest
drummer of all time in 2016 and has received 22 Grammy Awards throughout his
career. In addition to U2, Mullen has worked on many solo projects and recorded
the soundtrack and theme song of Mission Impossible with Adam Clayton in 1966.
Bill Stevenson is best known for being the
co-founding member and original drummer of California punk rock group the
Descendents, but he has also played for Black Flag, an iconic L.A. punk rock
band founded in 1976. Born in Torrance, California, Stevenson was a student at
Mira Costa High School where he met his bandmates of the Descendents. His
iconic machine-gun snare rolls and hardcore sound has earned him a spot on our
list as he’s paved the way for bands like Blink-182, Green Day, Fall Out Boy
and Weezer. Stevenson is also a producer and has worked in the studio with
bands, including rising Against, As I Lay Dying and NOFX.
Fun fact: Stevenson has a love for caffeine.
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