From Elvis to Mars Volta, 50 of Rhythm Magazine’s 100 leading influences come from the heavier end of the spectrum


Legend: Animal

Rock and metal drummers make up half of a top 100 list compiled by experts, analysts and musicians.

The breakdown of most influential players in the history of the modern drumkit was compiled by Rhythm Magazine, and features 50 rock or metal musicians in its ranks alongside founding fathers including Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and Ronnie Verrell – who played Animal in The Muppets.

Revealing its ultimate roll-call, Rhythm says: “It’s a celebration of the players who have shaped the drumming world and inspired later generations to take the art to new levels.”

The world’s most influential rock and metal drummers

DJ Fontana (Elvis): Single-handedly transformed the R’n’B shuffle into the rocking backbeat that shook the world – the original rock’n’roll drummer.

Tony Meehan (Shadows)

Ringo Starr (Beatles): Inspired more youngsters to take up the drums than any other single drummer. It was routine to write off Ringo’s beats as easy, and Ringo by implication as no great drummer, the one who got lucky. Many of us knew better. Today his contribution and influence are widely recognised.

Hal Blaine (session)

Jim Keitner (session): Successful session player when his participation on John Lennon’s Imagine shot his reputation into the stratosphere. He also played at rock’s first charity concert, the Concert For Bangladesh. He’s in your record collection now, playing a sweet groove.

Bobby Elliott (Hollies)

Keith Moon (The Who): A tsunami of washing cymbals and rolling drums, occasionally flooding over the chorus before ebbing back to start all over. Surely the most original rock drummer ever to walk the planet.

Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones: Brought a jazz lover’s refinement to rock’n’roll and can lend the simplest backbeat an unequalled elegance and infectious energy.

Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience): His legacy is staggering when you think it all happened between 1967 and Hendrix’s death in 1970, encompassing arguably the three greatest rock albums ever.

Carmine Appice: Gave pioneers Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and BB&A with Jeff Beck a tremendous boost. Greatly influenced the young John Bonham, in particular with his ankle-busting bass drum triplets and battering snare drum attack.

John Bonham (Led Zeppelin): Universally acclaimed the most influential rock drummer ever. He’s renowned for his peerless bass drum technique, his monumental open sound and unique groove.

Ginger Baker (Cream)

Ian Paice, Deep Purple

Bill Bruford

Phil Collins

Carl Palmer (ELP

Bill Ward (Black Sabbath): The mastermind behind the unholy birth of heavy metal drumming. His playing on War Pigs is pure genius, balancing dark, brooding heaviness with bursts of crushing intensity.

Cozy Powell: In a career than spanned three decades, Cozy Powell reigned as the mightiest drummer in all of rock. He played with Jeff Beck, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, MSG and still found time to make hit records as a solo artist. He had the chops, groove and charisma of a superstar.

Roger Taylor, Queen: Has delivered beats of surpassing excellence for the band’s funk tunes and piano ballads, displaying the kind of versatility that you would expect from one of this country’s greatest sticksmen.

Steve Gadd

Terry Bozzio

Jeff Porcaro (Toto)

Stewart Copeland (Police)

Neil Peart, Rush: The Professor’s ability to craft meticulously detailed and musically complex drum parts has justly earned him a legion of fans and he maintains a tireless pursuit of excellence.

Phil Rudd, AC/DC: His less-is-more power play and behind-the-beat groove has inspired chopsmiths the world over to play with feel and master the 2 and 4.

Topper Headon, the Clash

Alex Van Halen, Van Halen

Vinnie Colaiuta, session

Nicko McBrain, Iron Maiden: A technician applying exquisitely precise rolls to Maiden’s famous galloping riffs.

Tommy Lee, Motley Crue: Even at the height of his hedonism, the Crüe’s only world-class musician was more influential than actually under the influence.

Lars Ulrich, Metallica: Proof that you don’t need super-chops to rise to the top of the rock pile, Ulrich applies solid rather than scintillating skills to the kit, excelling at short, single-stroke rolls and double kick drums.

Charlie Benante, Anthrax

Dave Lombardo, Slayer: An influence on every single extreme metal drummer ever  – but delivering numbingly tight chops on prog, world and classical releases too.

Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)

Chad Smith, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Vinnie Paul (Pantera

Dave Grohl (Nirvana): His combination of hardcore power, punk fury and hard rock groove was intrinsic to Nirvana’s sound. Alternative rock’s most recognisable drummer.

Matt Cameron, Pearl Jam

Tre Cool, Green Day: Playing punk rock demands boundless energy, speed and the ability to make an arena full of people go berserk by nailing those twos and fours with absolute assurance.  Cool has all these qualities in spades.

Josh Freese, session

Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins)

Danny Carey, Tool

Travis Barker, Blink 182

Joey Jordison, Slipknot: The scariest thing about Jordison is the brutal double kick work that has elevated his band from pantomime villains to metal overlords.

Chris Pennie, Coheed and Cambria

Gavin Harrison, Porcupine Tree

Thomas Lang (session)

Dominic Howard, Muse

Brann Dailor, Mastodon: With flames tattooed on his throat, Mastodon’s fiery drummer Dailor has been absolutely vital to the band’s success. His thunderous, fill-heavy beats have prompted none other than Dave Grohl to pronounce him as “the best drummer in the world”.

John Theodore (The Mars Volta): Technical giant who’s risen to the challenge of such inventive composition spectacularly well.

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