Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer once said, “A band is as solid as its drummer is.”
He had a great point. The drummer is the backbone of any band, driving the rhythm and dynamic of each song.
Since drumming is such an integral component of music, every drummer, whether they’ve played for years or are just getting started, needs someone to look up to.
And while there’s no shortage of fantastic drummers to take inspiration from, some stand above the rest. Here are five of the best rock drummers of all time that’ll provide the ultimate inspiration.
1. Danny Carey
As the drummer for one of rock’s most adventurous groups, Tool, Danny Carey isn’t afraid to think outside the box. Case and point, Carey’s drum setup, which relies on an ancient mathematical formula known as sacred geometry.
Carey may not have the name recognition of some of the other inclusions on this list, but listen to “Lateralus” or “Aenima” and tell us that he doesn’t belong on the list.
In short, Carey is the closest thing the modern era has to a John Bonham equivalent.
2. Brann Dailor
Though Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor doesn’t rely on ancient mysticism, Dailor’s drumming is magical all the same.
In fact, Dailor’s approach is often to do more with less. While his drum setup isn’t the most elaborate in the world, often consisting of a basic six-piece setup, Dailor’s thunderous drumming is an integral part of Mastodon’s heavy sound.
What’s more, Dailor is a skilled enough drummer that he often pulls double duty drumming and performing lead vocals simultaneously.
Dailor is a fantastic influence, particularly if you’re looking to play heavier music. Pay close attention to the patterns he uses in tracks like “Crystal Skull” and the grooves on “Show Yourself”.
3. John Bonham
Even by today’s standards, Bonham’s musical ability is second to none. Indeed, few drummers have had the impact on music that John Bonham has.
Thanks in part to his gargantuan drum setup, Bonham paved the way for countless drummers today, stressing the importance of precision and creativity.
In fact, Bonham isn’t just one of the best rock drummers of all time, but one of the best drummers period. He used influences from other genres like blues and jazz to shape and mold the very sound of rock we enjoy today.
4. Ginger Baker
Peter “Ginger” Baker, best known for his work with Cream, is another fantastic example of why experimentation is so essential to modern drumming.
Cream’s sound stemmed from a combination of jazz, blues, and African music. Cherry-picking elements from each, Baker and his bandmates are credited with laying the foundation for heavy metal.
New drummers would do well to study Baker’s discography extensively, as his solo works, in particular, serve as a great introduction to jazz-fusion.
5. Neil Peart
Can you imagine an epic like “2112” being so powerful without Neil Peart’s thundering drums? Neither can we.
Neil Peart is a fantastic example of what constant practice and taking care of yourself can do. Performing a 20+ minute track every night in front of thousands of people sounds like an impossible feat to most, but Peart makes it look easy.
Watch Rush’s live performances and pay close attention to Peart’s stamina for a truly astonishing show.
The Best Rock Drummers Provide The Best Inspiration: Use These Drummers as Your Guide
Before we go, we’d like to give a quick shout-out to a few drummers not listed here. Mick Fleetwood, Joey Jordison, Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, and Phil Collins are among the many notable drummers we didn’t have time to include.
Still, each of the five drummers listed offers something unique for students of the craft.
From Danny Carey and John Bonham’s willingness to experiment with new ideas to Ginger Baker’s passion for music to Brann Dailor and Neil Peart’s sheer stamina, each of these men is integral in the discussion of the best rock drummers.
While you’ll have to practice to play as well as these five drummers, we can help you look the part. Check out our custom drum head designer for the perfect complement to your kit.