What makes a great DRUMMER? Examples of outstanding artists and recordings

As its title suggests, in this thread I’d like to invite everyone to share their views on what makes a great drummer. It would be nice if you could give examples of artists as well as albums. I’d love to hear from you why you think those drummers and recordings stand out from the mass. Please feel free to talk about the “big names in the business” (regardless of genre) as well as about lesser-known musicians.


Ringo Starr! The Beatles would not have been nearly as good without him!

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Mick Fleetwood, Simon Phillips, Phil Collins, Jason Beek. If you’ve heard them in a band you’ll know why.

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Gavin Harrison, a British drummer playing with Porcupine Tree, The Pineapple Thief, King Crimson and some other bands. This guy is absolutely amazing on the drums and in many tracks his play makes the difference in my ears.

Great live album that shows his skills: The Pineapple Thief: Where We Stood (Live at Islington Assembly Hall) from September 2017


How about Bill Bruford? Found fame in Yes and King Crimson, of course, as well as his own bands Bruford and Earthworks.

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could you give examples of specific albums where you think the drummers you mentioned do a particularly good job? IMO that would make things more interesting for everyone.

Steve Gadd
To much to write it down, played with Steely Dan, Paul Simon, Al Di Meola, Eric Clapton, Art Garfunkel, Zucchero, James Taylor, Chuck Mangione, Michael Franks, David Sanborn, Paul McCartney, Rickie Lee Jones, Joe Cocker…etc.
Best album for me: One Trick Pony from Paul Simon

Joe Vitale
With Joe Walsh, CSNY, Eagles, Dan Fogelberg enz
Album: Speaking in Drums


Mick: FM - The Chain … Mick and John McVie are magnificent as a rhythm section

Simon Phillips: Listen to any of Protocol 1 through 4

Phil - needs no introduction

Jason Beek - Have a listen to Eilen Jewell’s Down Hearted Blues - a magnificent album. Jason’s drum work is the glue that holds it all together. Watching them perform in London recently was one of the best live music experiences I’ve had.

Done! Added album recommendation in my post.

Neil Peart - the professor on the drum kit - nuff said. Jon Hiseman (colloseum) was also handy


My vote would be for Jamie Muir in his all too brief time with King Crimson in 1972. Bruford has acknowledged that Muir opened his mind to possibilities that he had not thought of before. One of Muir’s strengths was knowing when not to play - something that, for me, all the great musicians have (e.g. Peter Green). There’s a track on the Larks Tongues Box Set which has Muir’s percussion for Easy Money and nothing else - illustrates this perfectly.

I might also put Tony Williams - particularly on ‘In A Silent Way’ into the mix.

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Sorry, I’m in agreement with the view that Ringo ‘wasn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles’!

Which apparently came from Jasper Carrott (UK comedian from Birmingham if you don’t know him), not Paul McCartney


My vote goes to Manu Katche - session drummer for the great and good (Sting etc), but lovely on his own jazz recordings (Manu Katche, Playground, & Third Round in particular)



Hi everyone! I’ve just changed the topic from “Who is your favourite drummer?” to “Who are your favourite drummers?”. :grinning: This might make things a little easier…

Here’s my first recommendation. Dave Weckl’s drum work on “Multiplicity” is definitely worth checking out (if you’re open to fusion/jazz rock)…

What makes a great drummer? The ability to listen carefully to what is going on around him or her. A strong, well-honed sense of time and meter as well as the ability to manipulate the space between the notes to make time patterns groove. A deep and wide technical vocabulary of grooves/rhythms and fills supported by a finely-tuned musical sense of when to apply them.


How about John Bonham and Keith Moon?


Hi @Akimo,

any albums you could recommend? What makes their drum work special IYO?

For Bonham, try Gallows Pole from LZIII. Perfect timing throughout, lots of variation, and huge impact on the song.

Moon’s more troublesome, of course, because he was so frequently too blitzed to keep time, but when he was on . . .
Try Quadrophenia. For me, no rock drummer ever made a greater contribution to an album than Moon did for Quadrophenia.

And I’ll add Art Blakey. Check him out in Blues Back from A Jazz Messager. Utterly limpid when the song calls for it. Perfect match to everywhere Sonny Stitt takes the song.


And let’s get a great classical percussionist in. How about Salvatore Rabbio of the DSO. Check him out on Saint Saen’s Symphony No. 3 on Mercury Living Presence. Perfect tonality!

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Charlie Watts ain’t bad…

Wow. You would be way off base: