Let’s all agree, Rock n’ Roll can’t live without the drummers. Believe or not they are the unsung heroes of music, the guardians of time and groove, and their beats decide if people actually dance or not. One question remains, who are the most influential, creative and revolutionary drummers of all time? Without any further discuss, let’s get into it.
1. John Bonham
When people started to listen to “Whole Lotta Love” for their first time, it felt like a new king had arrived. Those thunderous sounds were made by none other than John Bonham, thanks to Led zeppelin’s brilliant madness. They were four-headed monster, but Bonham was something else.
An American musician Dave Grohl admitted that he seriously tried for years to copy Bonham’s lightning speed playstyle. Bonham’s sound and speed surpass like no one else’s, still managed to show us it wasn’t that hard to preform like him. Even after he passed away, many people hailed Bonham as the greatest rock drummer of all time.
2. Keith Moon
When Moon joined to “The Who”, they were already a messy group. With him backing them, the four band members became a circus both on stage and behind the scenes. Thanks to Moon as “lead drummer” the band gained proper foundation.
The Bass guitarist John Entwistle said about Moon: “His breaks were melodic. Because he tried to play with everyone in the band at once”. Moon was also known by is antics on the stage for example blowing up his drumset. His Invaluable contribution to drumming that gave him his legend status.
3. Neil Peart
When Neil Peart auditioned to the rock bend “Rush”, their guitarist Alex Lifeson said about Peart: “We were so blown away by Neil’s playing”. “It was very Keith Moon-like, very active, and he hit his drums so hard” he added. Although Peart’s unique wildness reminded them Moon in many ways, it also defied him on some levels.
Peart was a lot more methodical, almost mathematical in his approach compare to Moon. Peart was one of the drummers that elevated his status to more than just a drummer, but an arranger and composer as well.
4. Ginger Baker
Baker was yet another mysterious musical talent that peeked out from a perfect storm. Thanks to his team up with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, Baker could play to his heart’s desire. Baker had jazz background and then he entered to psychedelic jam rock scene which lead his trio to heights and to a whole new level which never was seen before.
Baker was more into African beats, as was stated by Afrobeat co-creator Tony Allen: “He understands the African beat more than any other Westerner”. His inhibited passion for music and his unchained personality were unmistakably presents very time he get o the stage.
5. Hal Blaine
Wrecking Crew was group of Los Angeles musicians who played on many of the hits that recorded in the `60s and `70s. Hal Blaine, the group drummer, played in hits by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Supremes, and even The Beach Boys on their legendary album Pet Sounds. Some stories say that Blaine is the most recorded drummer in history.
Blaine even helped Phil Spector ,a producer, to create his “Wall Of Sound” on hits like the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”. As he put himself “I’m not a flashy drummer. I wanted to be a great accompanist”, Blaine managed to do that with some more achievements.
6. Benny Benjamin
The founder of Motown, Berry Gordy, had an in-house studio band called The Funk Brothers where they could play on all the records. Benny Benjamin was the drummer, the maestro and musical genius of the group. “He had a distinctive knack for executing various rhythms all at the same time,” said Gordy. “A pulse, a steadiness, that kept the tempo better than a metronome.”
Thanks to Benjamin’s expert hands, songs like The Temptations’ “My Girl” and Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” were possible to be made. Even American singers and songwriters were inspired by him! Wonder even said, “Man, he was one of the major forces in the Motown sound. Benny could’ve very well been the baddest”.
7. Gene Krupa
One of the all-time greatest drummers, Neil Peart, once said the next thing about Gene Krupa – “…was the first rock drummer, in very many ways”. Peart even explained that Krupa was one of the drummers that could both “command the spotlight” and “be celebrated for his solos”.
Krupa’s playing influenced many people, even Keith Moon and John Bonham. The fact that he came before them gives him different kind of reverence in the drum community.
8. Mitch Mitchell
Stewart Copeland, an American musician once said about Mitch Mitchell, the `60s drum legend, “All of this stuff I did that I was rather proud of, I thought I came up with it. But no, I got it from Mitch”. Mitch Mitchell was weird enough and could hold down the fort along with Jimi Hendrix’s weirdness.
Even Roger Taylor a musician from Queen said, “He played the kit like a song, it was just wonderful. But with this rolling ferocious attack on the whole kit. Total integration into the song. Not just marking time.”
9. Charlie Watts
The person that because of him “roll” added to the “Rolling Stones” was none other than Charlie Watts. Even when the “Rolling Stones” were still in their early stages, Watts was a well-known and respected drummer across London. At first, they couldn’t afford to hire him but as “Rolling Stones” buzz spread out and barely could be ignored, they won Watts over.
Watts provided steady backbeat rhythm support on stage like no other. The guitarist of the band, Keith Richards, said about Watts – “When we got Charlie, that really made it for us. Charlie can rush like mad and still make it feel great. That’s his style.”
10. Stewart Copeland
Funny but interesting fact about Stewart Copeland is that Copeland made just as much of an impact with what he didn’t play than with what he did play. His grooves aren’t so simple and easy to mimic and this what made him better than most of the drummers.
Similar to other British rockers from his era, his complicated yet special grooves added to his band’s sound in a subtle yet powerful way. Copeland even lent his talent to many other artists over his career.