Best drummers

In memory of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, who died on this day in 1980, and who was, and quite possibly remains… the best drummer of all-time?

The greatest as you deem only right and just to declare him (or her), your favourites, the best living, most memorable performances on stage or on tape, your thoughts on this contentious ‘100 Greatest’ list… Whatever, let us know.

Additionally, as fate has decreed that this week be Nick Mason Week, how about casting a vote for his finest moments behind the Floyd kit, particularly during his time in Pompeii? (I know what you’re thinking, but his quibbling about apple pie was at Abbey Road and behind a table, not a drum kit, so doesn’t count.)

I’m rather partial to the often insane and frenzied, but always perfect, playing of Keith Moon, myself. Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater is no slouch and Ringo Starr, no matter what anyone says, will always be my favourite. ‘I Feel Fine’ indeed.

Thank you for making this week’s file-sharing debate such an interesting one.

That’s all for another week, but have a great weekend – and don’t forget the Top 10 Solo Albums, as chosen by Planet Rock listeners and would-be online vote-riggers, which everyone can listen to online, on Saturday at 6pm (UK). If you miss it, it will be repeated at the same time on Thursday.

In the interest of good blog-keeping, comments about that are to be left here, not here, please. And I’ll still eat my New York baseball cap if Imagine isn’t included…

If you’d like to talk about any of the above, the chatroom opens at 2pm (UK).


  1. Jill

    Bonzo was one of the most powerful drummers on earth, I think, but he could also add almost thoughtful (don’t know if that’s the right word for percussion, but never mind) bits to some of the dreamier songs. Or he could knock you right off your feet.

    Nick… One of These Days is one of my favorite tracks in PF history. Who said they couldn’t rock you? Oh, I said that once, but I was wrong. It’s still my favorite video bit, especially when he loses a stick and produces another one almost instantly. I just love that so much.

    But Keith Moon, nobody like him. I can split individual tracking (as much as possible with low tech stuff like I have) down with The Who and just listen to Entwistle or Moony. Keith’s body must’ve been a ball of pain after every concert but he played as if his body was just a tool, a means to an end.

    Which brings me to Zak Starkey, son of Ringo and godson of Keith Moon. He’s a fine drummer, really good and I love watching him play. It’s like nobody else exists, nothing exists but the music.

    And I guess what I like is watching a concert and watching the drummer rear back, raise both hands and twirl the sticks before lighting into the kit again. I always smile and think “Wonder where you got that from, son.”

    • FEd

      Which brings me to Zak Starkey, son of Ringo and godson of Keith Moon. He’s a fine drummer, really good and I love watching him play. It’s like nobody else exists, nothing exists but the music.


  2. Piero

    I’m sorry that I couldn’t say anything about file-sharing, it’s a pity, it was a very very interesting topic.

    Well, the best drummers for me are Nick Mason (his drumming on “Time” always gives me goose bumps), John Bonham (rest in peace Bonzo), Keith Moon and Ringo Starr.

    Steve is a great drummer as well.

    A special word goes to Jim Gordon. Do some people agree with me about Jim?

    Have a nice day.

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  4. Paul Sexton

    Zak Starkey!!! Great drummer.

    I’m attending Oktober Fest in Munich… what a place.

    Have a nice weekend all.

  5. Davie110

    I’m not technically advantaged enough in the ways of drums to decide who’s the best, but my personal favourite would have to be Keith Moon.

    There’s something about the chaotic way Keith thunders through songs that makes The Who that extra bit more amazing! They are one of the few bands in history where EVERY member stands out. What a large amount of talent!

    And of course, Nick Mason is in high regard with me… for one thing, he’s probably the first drummer I was ever aware of.

    When I went to see Mr. Waters in Earl’s Court back in 2007, he was the “special guest drummer” for the performance of The Dark Side Of The Moon. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a large amount of people go so wild for a drummer! What a reaction! And what a drummer! :)

  6. Bruce

    Even though I have no knowledge of a connection to Rush, I believe Neil Pert to be the best drummer. I believe he was bestowed this honour a few years back but don’t know if it was a Western Hemisphere thing or if it were the same type of honour David was given for the best guitarist.

    I do, however, see Nick Mason his equal, and as you have written, with Pompeii as a measuring stick and The Wall as the exclamation mark.

    Ringo Starr is my favourite son, of course just a play on words if you will, as I have had a special connection with the BEATles from the beginning. Ringo, if you’re reading this, my apologies concerning the convenience store. I told Louise what happened and she thought it humorous but saw that I was upset about it. Talk about missing a boat…

    Ringo IMHO is right up there with Mason and Pert and had The BEATles carried on, would have been hands down, no vote needed, the very best ever.

    This is just my not so humble opinion and we all have those moments. Lars Ulrich of Metallica is a drummer in another league. Lars is probably as original a drummer as has ever lived.

    Just my personal thoughts but I do miss Bonham and his Zeppelin style. RIP John.

  7. Hoss


    Here are my top ten drummers in no particular order.

    Buddy Rich
    Keith Moon
    Jon Bonham
    Charlie Watts
    Ringo Starr
    Mick Fleetwood
    Max Weinberg
    Mitch Mitchell
    Carmine Appice (Did he do some session work on A Momentary Lapse Of Reason?)
    Neil Pert

    As for favorite Nick moment behind the kit, I would have to say on P.U.L.S.E – One Of These Days or Time. Good stuff.

    Have a good weekend,

  8. Michèle

    Well, according to this list, it seems there are not many good drummers outside the USA/UK! 😕 So, deliberately, I’ll nominate Richard Kolinka. Sure nobody here knows him… :/

    Lars Ulrich (I think he is Danish) and Jeff Porcaro are among my favourites, but I’m not a ‘Drum expert’.

    I remember that Jeff Porcaro (too sad he died so young) played on David’s ‘About Face’. I think that David once said that he was an exceptional drummer, even if he knew that Nick Mason had always been ‘perfect for Pink Floyd’.


  9. Ben Craven

    Hi FEd

    The best drummer is a hybrid I created in the lab, mixing DNA I stole from Bill Bruford, Nick Mason, Phil Collins and Vinnie Colaiuta. The technology is still highly controversial, and we should save the ethical debate for another time.

    I believe Nick’s finest moments happen when he gets the chance to sit back and just be Nick Mason. Check out Comfortably Numb on David’s “About Face” tour video (VHS!) for instance. Chris Slade is awesome, but then Nick comes out, plays exactly the same kit, and is unmistakeably Nick!


  10. Hydrea

    Hi, FEd.

    Oh, Great! Another interesting topic.

    I like to listen to many types of music and in my humble opinion I could say the Best Drummers are: Nick Mason (amazing drum solo in “One of These Days”) and Stewart Copeland (Police).

    You can see him in a drum solo in this video.

    Then, I think Will Champion, (Coldplay’s drummer) is a great talent. Have a look here.

    I think he plays a good rhythm in their song “Square One”.

    Steve Distanislao is a great talent, too. But I don’t see him in the list. Why?

    PS: Thanks for your wishes, yesterday. :)

    Bye, Hydrea

  11. fanniefarkle

    My favorite drum solo is Michael Shrieve’s with Santana in Soul Sacrifice at Woodstock, which you can see here.

    He was also the youngest person to perform at Woodstock.

    One of These Days at Pompeii with Nick just tearing it up. I’m sure you’ve all seen it, but, what an awesome video!


  12. bernhard

    one of the most interesting drummers from the last 8-10 years for me personally comes (mostly) from the jazz scene, namely brian blade. he’s both old school and really new vibes at the same, he produces incredible textures, subtle and then very banging and rolling again.

    he has been working with danny lanois for a long time now, and through him also worked with artists like bob dylan, joni mitchell…

    among many other concerts I’ve seen him live a couple of times with austrian jazz guitarist wolfgang muthspiel, and I remember a particular night in a vienna jazz club, porgy&bess, seeing brian play, feeling the spirit of his drumming, I felt like catapulted back into the 1950s or early 60s what it must have been like seeing john coltrane in the village vanguard in new york or likely venues. I was blown away.

    as indicated what’s most interesting about him is that matches with a variety of artists, at the moment again he is playing with danny lanois and the vibes they produce together are really powerful musical colours…

    here’s a recent video with lanois and trixie whitley, the vibe of the visual footage alone is worth seeing this.

    all the best,

  13. Ed Lopez


    Is that a New York Yankees cap? If that’s the case, I will forgive you, as a Red Sox Nation citizen… but only because you have to work pretty hard to maintain this busy and infinitely cool blog.


    James Kottak (Kingdom Come / Scorpions)
    Deen Castronovo (Journey)
    Mel Gaynor (Simple Minds)
    Carter Beauford (Dave Matthews Band)
    Alex Van Halen (Van Halen)
    Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)
    Carmine Appice (Blue Murder)
    Neil Peart (Rush)
    John Densmore (The Doors)
    Mickey Currey (The Cult, Bryan Adams)
    Matt Sorum (The Cult, Guns n’ Roses)
    Audie Desbrow (Great White)
    Tommy Aldridge (Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne)
    Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche)
    Nick Mason (of course…)

    A favorite Nick Mason performance – might surprise many of you – is “Yet Another Movie” on “Delicate Sound of Thunder”. The drum sound(s) that Nick Mason commands on that piece live… that song is ALL about the drums.

    Fills, and mastering an atmospheric sound – that puts drummers high on my list. But I know I am missing many that deserve recognition.

    • FEd

      Is that a New York Yankees cap? If that’s the case, I will forgive you, as a Red Sox Nation citizen… but only because you have to work pretty hard to maintain this busy and infinitely cool blog.

      :)) Thanks, Ed.

      Fear not, it’s not a Yankees cap. I’d be in trouble with an Orioles-mad friend if I ever even entertained such a crazy cap-wearing idea.

  14. Beppo the Mime

    Favorite drummer, hands down, is Keith Moon. Here’s two reasons why (watch his arms during the drum fills, if you can!):

    Reason #1
    Reason #2

    Other favorite drummers include:

    Neil Peart of Rush – not only a great drummer but a great songwriter too!
    Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater
    Rod Morgenstein of the Dixie Dregs/Steve Morse band, and even Winger (!)
    Steve Smith of Vital Information (and once a drummer for Journey, during their late 70s early 80s hayday)…. I sat behind Steve Smith at a local concert and watched his arms fly during a solo… it was an ungodly, mind-blowing event!


  15. Michael A. Adashefski

    As a drummer for most of my life I’m glad you’re finally giving us our due–long overdue!!

    Favorite players:

    Ringo Starr–always my #1.

    Bill Bruford–his amazing work with Yes, King Crimson, UK, Earthworks and many others is some of the best playing I’ve ever heard.

    Nick Mason–A Saucerful Of Secrets (live), One Of These Days, Run Like Hell, Astronomy Domine and Echoes.

    Keith Moon–the maddest of them all.

    Bonzo Bonham–his drums were an engineer’s nightmare because they sound like cannons but what a great player he was!!

    Louie Bellson–inventor of double-bass drumming and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. an amazing drummer.

    Charlie Watts–without Charlie the Stones would be just another band and they know it too.

    Buddy Rich–he could make a snare drum literally whisper & then fire at on all burners. One of a kind!

    Dannie Richmond–Charles Mingus’s great drummer.

    Jeff Porcaro–the only interesting part of Toto was hearing him drive that band. Pure class all the way.

    Simon Phillips–a monster without equal.

    Pierre Moerlen–great drummer for the band Gong.

    Ginger Baker–I took lessons from Ginger back in 1991 and it was one of the greatest times of my life. He is the Master of it all.

    All of the above players have enlightened my life as a player and I owe each of them a debt of thanks for all of the licks I’ve stolen from each of them!! 😉

  16. Laura Pope

    Love the rock drummers and yes, John Bonham would be the best.

    I do like a lot of the Latino drummers out there and was completely mesmerized by the youthful drummer in Carlos Santana’s band as filmed in Woodstock. He looks about 15 but puts on such an incredible solo riff; I’ve never seen anything quite like him since.

    Sheila E. is dazzling, too.

  17. Rob A.

    Peart, Danny Carey of Tool, Bonham, Moon are all incredible.

    I’ve always loved Moon at the beginning of The Rock, and I saw Zak Starkey nail that part with The Who in the 90s.

    Nick Mason seems to me to be the type of drummer who doesn’t stand out at all without repeated listenings (maybe because no superfast or heavy material), and then you see that he’s adding a lot to what’s going on (from Pompeii, I’d take Echoes).

    At the risk of infuriating every reader of this site, I have to say I have no idea what Ringo is doing in this conversation. I’ve listened to virtually the entire Beatles catalogue, and I’ve never heard anything from him that couldn’t have been done with any session man walking the streets of Nashville or L.A. At least the Ramones’ drummers had to play fast – Ringo didn’t even have to do that.

    The top-100 list says it’s based, in part, on influence – I guess the ease with which his simple tapping could be duplicated qualifies as influence, especially given that he played for the world’s preeminent suppliers of nursery rhymes… whoops, I’m sure I’ll hear it now… just call me the anti-Beatle.

    • FEd

      😛 I wouldn’t argue that Ringo’s the best drummer – as I’m sure he wouldn’t. There’s that quote of John Lennon’s about Ringo not even being the best drummer in the Beatles (Paul was).

      Regardless, Ringo’s my favourite on the grounds that he got on with the task and had fun with it. He didn’t take himself too seriously and, I suspect, in not doing so has inspired more people to play the drums than the more technically proficient.

      Anyway, the Beatles’ music didn’t require a Ginger Baker on drums, and considering the talent that the other three Beatles had, it would have taken one hell of a drummer to match them. Few could have.

    • tim_c

      I’m with F’ed.

      The thing about Ringo is that the Beatles were pretty much inventing Pop / Rock music at this time and Ringo was able to contribute to that. Indeed the drumming on “Strawberry Fields” for example, or “I Am the Walrus” seems to me to stand well apart from the field.

  18. Rob A.

    I should add, before the deluge begins, that I believe one of the great things about music is that any music that reaches, touches, or affects you, is in a sense magical for that reason, and that any piece of music, or artist, needs nothing more than that to qualify as worthy – which is a long-winded way of saying I don’t mean to belittle the music of the Beatles for those who have found it of value, only to question, on a technical basis, Ringo’s presence on the list.

    • Michael A. Adashefski

      Ringo’s drumming complimented The Beatles music without cluttering it. He always played what was exactly right for the song because that was the most important of their music–the songs. Any other drummer might have added too much to that music but Ringo knew exactly what to play because he knew each of the 3 writers and what they wanted.

      As far as Ringo not being a fast drummer–listen to and watch the footage from the early half of the band’s career. He’s almost always playing fast steady 8th notes on the Hi-Hat or cymbals and throwing in the needed accents to punctuate the phrases. The earlier Beatles music was full of some fast tempos but as the years went on the songs changed to slower tempos and he wasn’t required to play that fast anymore. Plus he has the best time–steady rhythm in the business.

      That’s what makes Ringo so great.

  19. lorraine

    My all time favourite drummer has to be Keith Moon followed by Lars Ulrich and Bill Bruford.

    Favourite piece of drumming – by a country mile, Steve Distanislao on ‘Echoes’ he made all the difference (given that the rest of them were already really rather good at it anyway).

  20. NewYorkDan

    Bill Bruford is probably my favorite drummer, having been in two of my all-time favorite bands: King Crimson and Yes. Also I admire his work in a number of solo projects, and he was drummer with Genesis on a concert video I once saw (he was AMAZING!!).

    Keith Moon was one-of-a-kind, few musicians can match him for sheer energy and presence.

    Session musician Ray Cooper (Eric Clapton, Roger Waters) is also a fine drummer.

    Bonham was another of my all-time faves; I cannot put my finger on it, but there was something about the way he played that nobody will ever compare with.

    And, Rush was okay in its early days before Neil Peart joined; he made them sound amazing.

    For me, Nick Mason and Bill Berry (R.E.M.) are cut from the same cloth. Both are solid, workman-like musicians who prefer to sit back and let the others shine. Berry once said he wouldn’t know what to do with a drum solo if someone ever asked him to do one; I get the feeling that Nick Mason would probably see things the same way. R.E.M. by the way was my favorite band all through high school and college; comparing Mason and Berry is, for me, a high compliment to both of these musicians. (Pink Floyd were favorites before high school and again after college.)

  21. Jeremy

    Still remember exactly where I was and what time it was, when I learnt Bonzo had died.

    Best drummers; Bonzo (When The Levee…), Moon (Won’t Get…) and Baker (White Room), though they were aided by some rather fine musicians in front of them. However the very best was Karen Carpenter (It’s Yesterday Once More, sorry), after all she won the best drummer award in 1975 when Rock Gods were at their peak. So much for polls and awards.

    What about Cozy Powell? Rainbows brilliant Stargazer is kicked into life via the hands and feet of the man in black (no, not Ritchie Blackmore). And with the exception of Ginger they all died needlessly and far too young.

    Then there is the Gentlemen’s club of drummers: Ringo (Octopus Garden), Nick (One of These Days) and Charlie (Honky Tonk). Different style of playing, but able to keep time and the beat going for two hour shows, which isn’t easy. Saw Charlie play recently with Ben Waters and I could hardly take my eyes off him, his style is so effortless.

    I read recently that Pete Townshend thinks Phil Collins (In The Air) is the best drummer. Unfortunately he has just retired from playing.

    One of my favourites is Clem Burke (Union City) who is amazing live.

  22. Neil Pudney

    Have to agree with those placing Neil Peart at the top of their lists. The fact that I’m a massive Rush fan is by the by but… I was stood front and centre at Wembley Arena in 2007 and even after almost 30 years of watching the band I’m still stunned at how hard he hits the kit, for 3 hours each night as well!

    Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree is also mighty impressive and would sneak in at number 2 for me, probably just ahead of the much maligned Phil Collins – you should have stuck to the drumming Phil. 😉

  23. snow

    I’m no expert but a drummer that got my attention recently is Steve DiStanislao. I never heard of him before RTN but I love the way he drums. I bet ya he listened to PF a lot when he was a young fella.

    The drumming on Machine Head always gets my attention.

    The drummer that I’ve seen the most live is Rob Hirst from the Oils. He hits them well and I’ve seen him use a metal water tank as part of his kit.

    I’ve also listened to Nick a lot through out my life, so he’s up there on my list as well.

  24. jan

    Rushing off for vacation but had to add:

    Nigel Olsen (Elton John) has remarkable timing.

    These two masters from the past:

    Buddy Rich
    Gene Krupa

    Will be back mid Oct. Hope to catch up later.

    Sorry, will have to catch up on the ‘file sharing’ posting later as well. Looks very interesting.

    All of you take care and have a good autumn.


  25. Heather

    Nick Mason at Pompeii on ‘One of these Days’ is our favourite clip. We would love to see either Stevie or Graham Broad (from Roger’s band) let loose on that track. Both are very good and enthusiastic drummers and if ‘Time’ was anything to go by both of them could do a brilliant job with it.

  26. GianLuca

    Too often drummers in rock bands are understated in their contribution to songwriting.

    Rock drummers are not only the mighty providers of a steady and powerful beat, they know how to fulfil the different moments of a song, with variations, breaks, and savvily using the whole kit.

    In fact a drumkit is a very complex and multi voiced instrument that can change the total feel of a song.

    I love Nick Mason’s dynamics in One of These Days, Echoes, Shine on You Crazy Diamond, and of course Time, which is another masterpiece.

    Great drummers I admire in the jazz/rock scene are some of the greatest session men around I think, like Terry Bozzio, Dennis Chambers, Dave Weckl and others.

  27. Jayne

    Steve DiStanislao is an exceptionally talented drummer, just listen to him on Echoes from Royal Albert Hall.

    Of course I will say Mick Fleetwood along with Nick Mason and Charlie Watts. But I still remember how great Gene Krupa was.

  28. Andrew

    Stewart Copeland of The Police is a phenomenal and often overlooked drummer, even though he is number 18 on that list.

    As for Nick Mason, I was lucky to be in the 10th row when he was a special guest at Madison Square Garden for the Roger Waters show a few years back. The song Time has always been one of my favorites and to watch Nick play the intro so close was just extremely special. From a drumming perspective, it is probably one of the best performances ever and Nick is the one who does it the best (sorry Stevie D).

    In fact, a few months after that, I saw Waters again with his regular drummer and the performance of Time did not match Nick.



  29. Adriano Matos

    It is an honor to be writing to one of my heroes. I grew up listening to Pink Floyd music since my father is a great fan of you and had bought all your records. I am from Brasil and Pink Floyd is my favorite band among all the others.

    The original Pompeii recording is amazing and Nick Mason’s performance on Echoes and One of These Says is impressive.

    From today’s drummers I point to Danny Carey from Tool band and to John Hinch from Judas Priest, mainly from Rocka Rolla album.

  30. rob

    I am not an expert in any way.

    But having just read a bit of Wikipedia about Ringo, it seems he is well respected.

    Despite this I still found it hilarious to read the Lennon quote:

    “Is Ringo the best drummer in the world? He isn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles.”

    It seems he was left handed playing a right handed drum kit, which meant he couldn’t do rolls, he cant really complain though because the drummer in Def Leppard only has one arm for Christ’s sake.

    I will mention the only two drummers I don’t think have been mentioned:

    Mitch Mitchell
    Buddy Miles

    The latter’s work on ‘Machine Gun’ from the filmore is fantastic. And I think Mitch Mitchell’s playing with Hendrix was very good. :)

  31. Michèle

    Nick Mason’s finest moments during his time in Pompeii ? For me: ‘One Of These Days’ and ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets’. He was on fire. I love his headband and the butterfly on his T-shirt, too. :)) Cool guy.

    I watched again ‘Live At Pompeii’ yesterday, I had forgotten how much I love it, ‘Echoes’ of course but also precisely that one, ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets’, what an incredible exploration in sounds. Way better than the studio version (that I find dull and boring, sorry).

    It sounds like a fabulous trip from chaos to harmony, from Hell to Heaven… and the last minutes, the Celestial Voices, David’s vocals and long hair blowing across his face… Quelle apothéose!

    OK, surely off topic. 😉


  32. cerebus

    Gotta say for me it’s Neil Peart.

    Tim “Herb” Alexander from Primus is also excellent.

    Other notables:-

    Dave Kerman (5uu’s)
    Daniel Denis (Univers Zero)
    Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree)
    Chris Cutler (Henry Cow, Art Bears and lots more)
    Danny Carey (Tool)
    Christian Tanna (I Mother Earth)
    Omar Hakim (Sting and a whole bunch of others)
    Bill Bruford

    It’s interesting to see Ringo Starr being mentioned ‘cos it reminds me of the John Lennon quote… when asked if Ringo was the best drummer in the world, John replied “He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles!”

  33. judy

    Hi FEd,

    To all the DG bloggers, had a great weekend on chat. Got to know more about you and that was great. PS, I ordered it Michele.

    Back to subject at hand. Best drummers list in our household is as follows;

    My son likes Jason Bittner (has many selections on YouTube). My husband votes for Neil Peart from Rush. He is very good.

    Beside the obvious Nick Mason and the wonderful work he has done, I also like Mick Fleetwood, good drummer and wild eyes. Wonder why that is? :))

    I still like the drum solo on Frankenstein by The Edgar Winter Group. John Bonham was fantastic. RIP.

    Hope today is finding you well and rested FEd. Thanks for all your hard work.

    Love to the World.

  34. RonZ

    I’m glad that someone mentioned John Densmore of The Doors, a very versatile and inventive drummer.

    As for Nick Mason, the Live at Pompeii video is one revelation after another. Mason was one of the greats.

  35. Piergiorgio

    😡 Sometimes musical knowledge is lacking here.

    IAN PAICE is the best drummer!!

    With all due respect to other people’s opinions: how can you enlist Ringo Starr or Charlie Watts? Or, with all due respect, Nick Mason?

    These folks give you feelings, OK. But being one of the best drummers is another story, come on…

    • tim_c

      I have been looking for a mention for Ian Paice… his work on “Made in Japan” has to be a reference point for any rock drummer – Wiry body, mutton chops and constant fills if you please.

    • Ed Lopez

      I think I see your point – but I don’t necessarily think it’s lack of musical knowledge; I think Nick Mason’s work is very structured, you see a fuller picture of his drumming live, in my view, and I think one challenge he meets is in adding to a wall of atmospheric sound – something that is quite challenging to do with a drum set. A guitar? Relatively easy. Keyboards? Especially easy with those. But drums are a different story and I think Nick Mason has had a particularly special talent for filling space in songs – but also creating a sense of space in them. Sometimes drumming doesn’t quite shine through in a record’s production.

      One of the drummers I mentioned was James Kottak. His work with the now relatively obscure and years ago often panned band Kingdom Come was nothing less than remarkable – but with the Scorpions I have not heard him play the way he used to. I don’t think that’s a coincidence – I think it has to do with production and where the band wants to project its musical emphasis and style. Live he still sounds great, however.

    • peter m

      By this logic, how then could you ‘enlist’ David Gilmour as the best guitarist? Takes more than technique to make you one of the best instrumentalists/musicians.

      With that in mind, I would like to add Levon Helm into the mix.

    • Darius

      First of all… “Sir”, there is no such thing as “best drummer”, but I suppose you have info that’s not available to us non-haters.

      “How can you enlist Ringo Starr?”

      Here’s how: how can you NOT enlist a guy who basically helped rock music change the world?

      “These folks give you feelings, OK.”

      Yes, they do, because that’s what great artists do, but I guess this is impossible for you to understand.

      With all due respect I really think that emoticon suits you well. :)

  36. NewYorkDan

    Off topic, but I wanted to say again how much I enjoy chatting when the chat room is open. Wish it were open more often.

    Anyway, it was open all this past weekend and I was there three times (under an hour each time). It is a fun place to laugh, cry, and share thoughts with other Irregulars. Thanks to Michele, Judy, Lorraine, Ash, Gothmogdave, and all the others (including you, F’Ed) who make it such an enjoyable place to waste an hour.

  37. ash

    From Live at Pompeii, and tomorrow I might say a different song, One of These Days.

    I ALWAYS turn the volume up for the drums between the end of The Happiest Days of our Lives and the start of Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2).

    Best drummer, I don’t feel I have sufficient knowledge to say, all I can say about drumming is I have sat up and taken notice of and thought, ‘that’s good’. I would have to say that Michael Shrieve with Santana at Woodstock is the most memorable drummer that comes to mind.

    ash X

  38. ash

    Whilst researching a few drummers, I came across this.

    I can’t give an opinion about this guy’s drumming except to say I know I’ve heard him. What I found astounding about this video was all the work.

    ash X

  39. Alessandra

    Hi FEd and everyone,

    my computer broke down last week and it’s still waiting to be repaired, so I couldn’t read the Blog these days.

    I hope to have it back soon.

    Sorry for the off topic and belated Happy Birthday to Hydrea. :)

  40. diana

    Hi FEd

    As Rick and David were “the wall of the sound” in the PF, as Bonzo was “God’s hammer” for the Zeppelin. Nowadays everything is so ordinary without that lot of passion (OK, OK some excess too…) to play drums using the hands… he was a myth!

    Nick was perfect for the blend in PF (really perfect in Pompeii) and Keith just the same for the Who.

    I like very much Carmine Appice (wonderful Vanilla Fudge!) Jeff Porcaro and Steve Di Stanislao, OK for “the quiet” Charlie Watts, not too much for Ringo Starr – nice hair and rings – but he fitted that “band” in “that” moment with “that” look and sound (I prefer Zack Starkey, indeed).

    Today? I like (just a little bit) the Muse and REM, but I’m not able to remember their drummers’ names and don’t think it’s because of I’m an old teenager only!!!

    A smile from Rome

  41. Michèle

    Hi, FEd, did I understand well what I just read on the Planet Rock site?

    Greatest solo album poll – Top 40:

    1 = ‘On An Island’

    Wow! Tell me, please!!!

    • FEd

      There’s nothing wrong with your understanding: On an Island did indeed come out on top, and there was also space in the Top 40 for Live in Gdansk and David Gilmour.

      The full list can be found here.

      As requested above, any reaction to the result of the vote should be left at the Best solo albums post, where the Top 10 can also be found, please.

      Thank you.

  42. Taki

    …after the election results yesterday here in Germany I can’t be serious:

    I loved that monster who played the drums in the Muppet Show!


  43. Bill C

    Very difficult for me to vote for the best drummer, there are so many! A short list off the top of my head – Ringo (The Beatles’ success, I believe, was a combination of talents, George Martin included), Billy Cobham, Carl Palmer, Alan White (“Instant Karma”!), Bill Bruford, Ian Paice, Bonzo, Keith Moon, Aynsley Dunbar, Narada Michael Walden, Nick D’Virgilio, Manu Katche (listen to Richard Wright’s “Broken China”, especially the track “Satellite”).

    My favorite Nick Mason moments are “Us and Them”, “One of These Days”, “Up the Khyber”, “Echoes”, and “Money”, simply because it can’t be easy to groove like that in 7/8 time. I’ll admit, though, that Steve D completely blew me away during David’s tour, but everyone in that band did!

    Bill C

  44. Thomas O'Connell

    I am so sorry not to have written sooner but with all the crazy medical tests I have been going through that can really make your head spin. I just pray that the spot on my lung isn’t spreading.

    I really want to wish a belated Happy Birthday to Ulli, Lene, Hydrea and anyone I missed for the month of September.

    I would have to say that Mick Fleetwood is another great drummer and I remember when I first saw him playing with the original Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan and John McVie. That was one of the greatest concerts I have ever been to…


  45. frank par

    Everyone has picked my faves, Nick included.

    Jeff Porcaro was a gem, his drumming on About Face was a show in itself. I didn’t know he passed away. Sad.

    Who could not say that Buddy Rich has to be the fastest incredible drummer in the world. He was off this planet.

    Keith Moon, I had the pleasure of seeing him play live once and Bonzo twice – were amazing!

  46. Pete - Coventry

    I think with drummers, it is similar to asking ‘who was/is the greatest footballer’.

    It all depends on what decade we are talking about and what kit is at their disposal.

    For example, what would Sandy Nelson or Buddy Rich have done with the kit that Gavin Harrison has at his disposal.

    I do think that, at his peak, Nick Mason was awesome. As was Ian Paice… Piergiorgio.

  47. ash

    Happy Birthday Lene. 😀

    Greetings to Ulli for yesterday and Hydrea, Dave and Thomas for last week.

    ash X

  48. Andrew

    Sad she (Lucy) has passed but isn’t it interesting where the inspiration comes from for song writing?



  49. Piergiorgio

    :v I didn’t mean to offend. You know I am a hot head. Fact is that I really think Paice is great and I can’t see how people is more fond of Ringo Starr!

    Ringo Starr (and Charlie Watts) is an offence to serious drumming, come on. Beatles are the living demonstration that a group is not the sum of the abilities of the singles. The same is for Pink Floyd (and I am talking of my favourite band in this case). Deep Purple is the opposite thing: a bunch of masters, each one in its own instrument.

    Ian Paice is my best drummer and will always be. :)

  50. Josh

    My list in no particular order,

    John Bonham (greatest drummer in the world? YES)
    Danny Carey (Tool)
    Keith Moon
    Lars Ulrich (not very technical but VERY, VERY ferocious)
    Phil Collins
    Neil Peart
    Shannon Larkin (Godsmack, man that guy can drum)
    and of course why not… Nick Mason (especially in Pompeii)

    A couple of honorable mentions go to session musicians:

    Josh Freese (he’s played with a lot of folks and well he is one of the best drummers alive)
    Graham Broad (his work with Roger is exceptional)
    and… Ged Lynch (watch Peter Gabriel’s “Growing Up Live” and see what I mean)

    As far as Ringo goes… he was in The Beatles and that is good enough for me but he will not go down in the annals as a tremendous drummer, just my opinion.

    • Josh

      I would like to add to this:

      Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave) and Dominic Howard (Muse)

  51. Evan

    Much as I understand the “hometown bias,” Nick Mason shouldn’t even be in the discussion.

    Neil Peart, Bonzo, Keith Moon, Zak Starkey, Lars Ulrich, Bill Bruford, Mike Portnoy, Carl Palmer, etc.

    I’d say Peart tops ’em all and then some.

  52. Alessandra

    After two weeks, I finally had back my computer. I’m happy to be here again. :)

    The file-sharing topic must have been very interesting. I’m sorry I missed it, but I’m going to read it soon.

    As for best drummers, I think my favourites are Phil Collins, John Bonham, Ian Paice, Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell, Chester Thompson (Frank Zappa, Weather Report and Genesis) and Jack Irons (Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam).

    Of course I’ve always liked Nick Mason’s style, too. Thinking about Pompeii, my vote goes to “One of These Days”, but, most of all, I love the way he plays in “Time”.

  53. Dr Phang

    Lists… Blah… What about Mitch Mitchell? I can’t believe he didn’t get a mention… 8|

    Ringo rocks!!! Anyone that says other has been hanging around with Hans Keller for too long…

  54. Ulli

    TY Fed and all for your nice Birthday Wishes, sadly I was out of town and offline, so my belated Happy Birthday wishes to you Fed and Lene!

  55. Terrence Reardon

    Here are my favorite drummers


    1.) Neil Peart (Rush), Chester Thompson (Zappa/Genesis/Phil Collins) and Phil Collins (Genesis and solo)
    2.) Nick Mason (Pink Floyd)
    3.) Roger Taylor (Queen)
    4.) Steve Smith (Jean Luc Ponty/Journey)
    5.) Alan White (Yes/John Lennon)
    6.) Bill Bruford (Yes/King Crimson/UK)
    7.) Carl Palmer (ELP)
    8.) Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell/Dio)
    9.) Scott Travis (Judas Priest)
    10.) Eric Singer (KISS/Alice Cooper)
    11.) Barriemore Barlow (Jethro Tull)
    12.) Ginger Baker
    13.) Don Henley
    14.) Peter Criss (KISS)
    15.) Phil Ehart (Kansas)

    No longer with us but left a legacy hard to fill:

    1.) John Bonham (Led Zeppelin, reason I took up drums in 1985 after hearing Led Zeppelin II)
    2.) Keith Moon (The Who)
    3.) John Panozzo (Styx, he was phenomenal)
    4.) Eric Carr (KISS)
    5.) Buddy Rich
    6.) Gene Krupa
    7.) Cozy Powell (Rainbow/ELP Mach 2/Black Sabbath)
    8.) Mark Craney (Jethro Tull/Jean Luc Ponty)
    9.) Jeff Porcaro (David Gilmour/Toto/various others)
    10.) John Rutsey (Rush, his drumming on debut was excellent though was replaced by Neil)

    Favorite Nick moment was a toss up between Pompeii and Boston Garden 1977 ROIO I have.

    Ringo and Charlie Watts were OK but had no influence on my drumming style.

  56. Sonny

    Sorry, cant take this list seriously when there isn’t even a mention of Buddy Rich.

    This list would be more aptly titled “Most famous”.

    Glad to see Bill Brufford at least made the top ten though.

  57. Herbert


    As usual the last words from me. 😉

    I saw the guitar-movie “It Might Get Loud” a few days ago with some shots from Led Zeppelin. I’m sorry to say that Bonzo is not the best drummer of all time for me. He was a powerful player, that’s sure.

    If not already listed before, I would call up

    Simon Phillips
    Ted McKenna (played a long time with Rory Gallagher)
    Ed Cassidy (still alive? drummer of Spirit, played a great gig at Rockpalast in Essen/Germany in the late 80s)
    Charly Antolini (a jazz drummer)

    Have a nice day

  58. Caio Bulhões

    Nicholas B Mason
    Antonio Sanchez (Pat Metheny)
    Peter Erskine
    Paco Sery (former with The Zawinul Syndicate)
    William Bruford
    Chester Thompson
    Phillip Collins
    Alejandro Neciosup Acuña
    Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson)
    Steve DiStanislao

    …and William H Cobham Jr.

  59. Tomasz

    Andy Newmark – strange, nobody mentioned him, he played on most of On An Island studio tracks. Earlier played with Sly and The Family Stone, John Lennon, Brian Ferry/Roxy Music (Avalon) and of course Pink Floyd.

    Steve Gadd and Iggor Cavalera can also play drums.

  60. Sam

    Hey man!


    Aaron Spears
    John Bonham
    Carter Beauford
    Carmon Appice!

    Thanks for the great blog! It’s hard to keep it updated I know!



  61. lounis ben

    hi …

    best drummer of all the time

    1-terry williams – abertawe, wales
    2-liam genokey – dublin, ireland
    3-pick withers -london
    4-bruce gary

    the rest are just learning to do with drums…