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The 5 Best Rock Drummers Of All Time

- November 5, 2018

best rock drummers

It’s time to place honor where honor’s due — on the shoulders of drummers. A rock band is nothing without a good drummer. So it’s time we talk about the best rock drummers of all time.

Some of these drummers you may expect to see on this list, and some you may not…

John Bonham

Thunder. Power. Authority.

Those are the words you typically think of when you think of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham. His drumming was revolutionary and carried the band to success. Even his band members say that Zeppelin wouldn’t have been nearly as good as they were without him.

And this fantastic skill showed during live performances especially. The band would go on long ad-lib jam sessions on stage and Bonham would get to blow people’s minds with his solos. His solos became so famous that people started nicknaming it “Moby Dick,” which would sometimes last up to half an hour.

Sadly, he passed away on September 25, 1980, forever keeping him a legend.

Phil Collins

Phil Collins’ name is synonymous with epic drum fills.

He got a successful start with the 70s band Genesis as their drummer and, shortly thereafter, their lead singer (taking over for Peter Gabriel). In 1981, he released his first solo album, Face Value, which included the hit song “In The Air Tonight” (it was a No 2 hit in the U.K. and in the Top 20 in the U.S.). That album ended up being bigger than any Genesis album was at that time.

But he wasn’t close to being done.

From 1984 to 1990, he had 13 straight songs be Top Ten hits in the U.S. And he did all this while continuing to front Genesis.

See, music world, drummer’s ain’t stupid.

Neil Peart

Neil Peart is considered by many to be the best rock drummer of all time. The Canadian-born lyricist and drummer helped make the band Rush one of the most successful rock bands of its time. They’ve played together for over 35, sold over 27.5 million records in the U.S., and created their own sub-genre of rock.

This is, in large part, thanks to Peart’s unique and intricate drumming style as well as his long and complicated drum solos. Canada even decorated him with the highest honor possible for a civilian, making him an Officer of The Order of Canada.

Truly one of the best.

Alex Van Halen

Alex Van Halen formed the band (you guessed it) Van Halen, formerly called Mammoth. In the late 70s, the band signed a record deal — not long after Alex almost lost one of his fingers in a machine shop accident.

The power behind Van Halen is thanks to Alex’s in-your-face yet dynamic drumming style. His style even got a nickname — the “brown sound” — which refers to how warm his snare drum sounded.

And on top of being an amazing drummer, Alex also sings and plays piano very well. And whether he’s on drums, singing, or piano, he knows how to play what’s right for the song and not take the whole thing over.

Buddy Rich

Buddy Rich wasn’t a rock drummer, but he could’ve easily taken on any of the other drummers on this list in a duel.

Many people consider Rich to be the best drummer of all time, or at least in the jazz world. Gene Krupa, a jazz legend, said Buddy was “the greatest drummer ever to have drawn breath.”

If you spend seven decades drumming and performing as Rich did, you’re bound to be considered one of the best.

Starting his career at just four years old, Rich played regularly on Broadway, showing audiences that his forte was speed and precision. He went on to play with Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, and many more well-known performers.

Here’s A Challenge…

Do you strive to be half the drummer these guys were/are? Then try this (you may already have): play along with a John Bonham solo, try to drum as powerfully as Neil Peart, or attempt to keep up with the speed of Buddy Rich.

It’s a great way to push yourself to improve!