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Modern Drummer's 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time (2014) by AAL2014 (2017)

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Here's a fun chart idea I came up with.. Modern Drummer Magazine, the same mag I've been subscribed to and thumbing through for almost 5 years, published a list of the 50 Greatest Drummers of all time voted by the readers back in 2014. I love lists and this was a very poignant list at the time for me. Of course with any list, there will be omissions. Everyone on this list is a very special and influential player so it's tough to say who should be on instead.

This chart is ordered the exact way the drummers were voted. The albums chosen are ones I think of as being the best (or one of the best) works by the artist, and the comments on each are my own. Drums have been an enormous part of my life for almost 10 years. I wouldn't be apart of this website without the drums choosing me to be apart of a spectacular rhythmic journey.

Here is my tribute to the drums, the greatest drummers, and the greatest drum magazine on the planet.

Chart updated: 06/28/2017 21:15 (Created: 08/23/2016 21:27). Chart size: 50 albums.

There are 3 comments for this chart from BestEverAlbums.com members and Modern Drummer's 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time (2014) has an average rating of 85 out of 100 (from 2 votes). Please log in or register to leave a comment or assign a rating.

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Collector's summaryLog in or register to discover the great albums that are missing from your music collection!
Sort byOverall Rank | Number of Charts | Average Rating | Number of Ratings | Release Date | Title | ArtistDate Added
RankAlbumArtist
1. (=)

The Best Of Buddy Rich
Compilation
United States Buddy Rich Big Band
BUDDY RICH

The Legend: Buddy Rich is a smart pick for number 1, really. Nobody in the history of the instrument has done more to bring drums to the forefront, as well as have world class chops, speed, phrasing, and musical smarts. Buddy's personality came through in his drumming. He was a ferocious, charismatic, and handsome but had a world class temper to boot. His rants aimed at his big band mates after shows is the stuff of legend, almost as much as his drumming. Although Buddy wasn't the nicest guy, his passion for perfection and the instrument shined brighter than anything. Buddy Rich is the greatest drummer of all time.

The Album: The Best of Buddy Rich is a compilation that shows different sides of Buddy, but all the same tenacity. The West Side Story Medley, Love For Sale, and Channel 1 Suite allow the listener a glimpse of Buddy's chops and charisma. This is a must have for any percussionist.


Best Performances: Nutville, West Side Story Suite, Groovin' Hard.
(First added to chart: 08/24/2016)
Year of Release:1969Appears in:2 charts
Rank in 1969:None
Rank in 1960sNone
Average Rating:  75/100 (6 votes)
Comments: 0 comments
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2. (=)

Physical GraffitiUnited Kingdom Led Zeppelin
JOHN BONHAM

The Legend: John Henry Bonham has influenced more drummers than almost anyone and it's why he's a deserving second place on the Modern Drummer list. The greatest rock drummer of all time had a somewhat short professional career, but to me, that makes his mark on drumming and popular music even greater. Bonham's thunder on the skins powered Led Zeppelin in a way that no other drummer could. His mix of tenacity and grace has been copied by many but never duplicated. Fuck, this guy has a triplet fill named after him!

The Album: Physical Graffiti might be my favorite Zeppelin album. It certainly shows Bonham's capability to shower the listener in a blanket of thick, fat grooves. The production on PG especially had an effect on Bonham's drums. Listen to Kashmir and listen to the bass drum patterns. So much nuance.


Best Performances: Kashmir, Good Times Bad Times, Fool In The Rain
(First added to chart: 08/24/2016)
Year of Release:1975Appears in:1,038 charts
Rank in 1975:5Rank Score:27,581
Rank in 1970s24Overall Rank:89
Average Rating:  84/100 (1,655 votes)
Comments: 106 comments
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3. (=)

Moving PicturesCanada Rush
NEIL PEART

The Legend: If there is but one term I can use to describe the Professor, Neil Peart and his drumming, it would be Focused Intensity. Neil has been a mainstay among popular drummers for over 4 decades. He has influenced generations of drummers, widened the mindset of a typical rock drummer, and still plays at an incredibly high level today at 60+ years old. Neil's beats, fills, solos, and stick twirls have been drummed (or air-drummed) probably more so than any other drummer. Night after night on tour, Neil's solos were more than drum solos, they were musical explorations mixing traditional drum set pieces with electronic pads making sounds varying from conga to jazz horn. Neil Peart's hunger for rhythmic knowledge has inspired me since day 1.

The Album: Let's start with the drum sound on Moving Pictures. It's fucking immaculate. The snare drum is tight, the bass drum is punchy, the toms and cymbals are crisp in their own, distinct ways. Moving Pictures was the record that launched Rush from prog rock heroes to enormous arena packers around the world and Neil's drumming is a huge part of that. The solo in Tom Sawyer is one of the most legendary drum parts in the history of the instrument. It's as well crafted as it is famous. YYZ also contains legendary drum moments and interplay between the 3 members that almost mimics free jazz. The Camera Eye, Vital Signs, and Red Barchetta also contain poignant drum tracks from Neil who cemented his legacy on this album.


Best Performances: La Villa Strangiato, Xanadu, YYZ
(First added to chart: 08/24/2016)
Year of Release:1981Appears in:764 charts
Rank in 1981:1Rank Score:17,755
Rank in 1980s19Overall Rank:152
Average Rating:  82/100 (981 votes)
Comments: 69 comments
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4. (=)

Believe ItMixed Nationality The New Tony Williams Lifetime
TONY WILLIAMS

The Legend: I've been playing drums since late November of 2008. Tony Williams has been a mainstay in my listening studies for about six months. In that short amount of time, much of my playing, soloing, and technique has changed (or I'm at least actively changing day by day). Tony's traditional grip, his meter, his vocabulary, his musicality, and his control and discipline in songs and solos just blow my mind. I could write a paragraph on his kit and it's tone alone. Tony's playing with Miles continues to open my mind to different realms of jazz and jazz drumming, and his solo work should be heard by every drummer on Earth. In my mind, Tony Williams is the most brilliant drummer ever.

The Album: So far, of all the work I've heard from Williams, this is the most well rounded and interesting on all accounts drumming to my ears. Songs like Fred, Proto-Cosmos, and Letsby show Tony's dexterity as a fusion player. The mini solos he plays around Holdsworth and co's riffs and mind-bending and tasteful. One minute you notice his chemistry with the bass player, the next with guitar, the next with the whole unit as they fire into some of the most brilliant jazz rock I've ever heard.


Best Performances: Proto-Cosmos, Black Comedy, Fred
(First added to chart: 08/24/2016)
Year of Release:1975Appears in:15 charts
Rank in 1975:267Rank Score:55
Rank in 1970s2,725Overall Rank:21,212
Average Rating:  78/100 (8 votes)
Comments: 0 comments
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5. (=)

A Love SupremeUnited States John Coltrane
ELVIN JONES

The Legend: It has been said before, to understand the impact of Elvin Jones, you must listen to a pre-Elvin drummer, Elvin, and a post-Elvin drummer. He really did have that big of an impact. A great bandleader as well as role player, Elvin had a hand in taking jazz to the next level, most famously with John Coltrane. Records like Ascension, A Love Supreme, and My Favorite Things, would not be anywhere near the same without Elvin on drums. His phrasing was brilliant and unique. It was totally his. His control of dynamics was also world class. Elvin gave some of Coltrane's pieces a rock feel just because his personality shined through his playing so completely. His fills inspired rock guys like Bonham too. Just listen carefully. It's worth it.

The Album: A Love Supreme is my favorite jazz album. Although Coltrane's brilliance is the brains behind it, I truly believe and feel Elvin is the driving force. Elvin helped propel some of Coltrane's hooks to new heights. His solo at the beginning of Part 3 is a prime example of the influence John Bonham took from him. Part 4, which is considered one of the finest pieces in the history of jazz has a totally unique feel because of what Elvin did percussion-wise. Gongs, timpani, cymbal swells, wow.
(First added to chart: 08/24/2016)
Year of Release:1965Appears in:978 charts
Rank in 1965:3Rank Score:27,676
Rank in 1960s20Overall Rank:88
Average Rating: Top rated 87/100 (1,160 votes)
Comments: 73 comments
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6. (=)

AjaUnited States Steely Dan
STEVE GADD

The Legend: You've probably heard Dr. Gadd before whether or not you know the name. One of the most recorded drummers in history is known for his world class feel and phrasing. His signature licks (of which he often toys around with the timing) have influenced countless drummers who he helped pave the way for. Any serious drummer will tell you, if he hasn't by now, Steve Gadd is a drum god. He can be a rocket accelerating for take off during a solo like in the famous fills of Aja, or he can lay back and give you one of the most infamous grooves in pop music history like Paul Simon's 50 Ways..

The Album: Steely Dan is known very fondly for their ability to craft such well orchestrated pieces as well getting the right people to play on them. Steve Gadd isn't the only drummer to play on this album (See: Bernard Pretty Purdie) but he has the most famous moment, the drum solo in the title track. His triplets, flams, crashes, ratamacues, and feel propel that song into the next stratosphere. Steve Gadd is one of the most in demand session players and has been for almost 50 years, so to find a record that provides the right exemplary piece to showcase Gadd is tough, but Aja is a great place to start.
(First added to chart: 08/24/2016)
Year of Release:1977Appears in:555 charts
Rank in 1977:7Rank Score:12,519
Rank in 1970s57Overall Rank:225
Average Rating:  82/100 (700 votes)
Comments: 45 comments
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7. (=)

Joe's Garage Act I, II & III
Compilation
United States Frank Zappa
VINNIE COLAIUTA

The Legend: The most complete drummer of all time? In my eyes, it's very possible. Vinnie's resume features a list of who's who names in the history of popular music including Zappa, Sting, Jeff Beck, Megadeth, and Herbie Hancock. The artists in that sentence are very different in style yet Vinnie, over the course of 40 years in the business has fit each role like a glove while adding his flair and flavor of virtuosity. Vinnie can play things with his left hand I can only dream of playing with both hands. Studying his heroes like Cobham, Williams, and Rich, Vinnie continued to mold himself to be one of the greatest drummers who ever lived.

The Album: Joe's Garage is not only one of my favorite Frank Zappa albums, it also contains drumming from Vinnie (in of course all different styles) that I will show to anyone unfamiliar with his playing. You want playing in 21/16? Okay. Pop-fueled reggae patterns? Yup. Explosive and perfectly placed fills? Of course. Vinnie's work on Joe's Garage made him a legend long before his work with many artists that would cement his legacy as it was named one of the top-25 drumming performances of all time by Modern Drummer in 1993.
(First added to chart: 08/24/2016)
Year of Release:1987Appears in:45 charts
Rank in 1987:32Rank Score:1,342
Rank in 1980s278Overall Rank:1,722
Average Rating:  81/100 (90 votes)
Comments: 2 comments
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8. (=)

Live At LeedsUnited Kingdom The Who
KEITH MOON

The Legend: I could begin and end this section with they created Animal the Muppet based off of Keith's antics and likeness. The guy was a total mammoth and had a totally unique style. Being a great rock drummer came naturally to Keith. He practiced rarely if ever, but what came out of him in songs and solos was pure, unadulterated mayhem that took the Who to heights few rock bands have ever seen. On any given night, Keith was a tornado on the drums.

The Album: Perhaps the most legendary live album in the rock canon, Live at Leeds shows exactly what I'm talking about in reference to Keith's tornado-esq drum stylings. The only known footage from that show shows Keith tearing through the set like a wild animal. Keith made Live At Leeds what it was through his fierce and explosive drumming.
(First added to chart: 08/24/2016)
Year of Release:1970Appears in:302 charts
Rank in 1970:21Rank Score:5,103
Rank in 1970s129Overall Rank:525
Average Rating:  83/100 (553 votes)
Comments: 33 comments
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9. (=)

Abbey RoadUnited Kingdom The Beatles
RINGO STARR


The Legend: Some might see Ringo voted in at number 9 on this poll and think "What the hell? Ringo is barely even a drummer!", which is quite a shame. Ringo revolutionized the world of drums by not only being in the Beatles and being a personality of his own, but by being a great thinker behind the drums with a God given perfect sense of time. Songs like Come Together, Oh Darling!, The End, A Day In The Life, Let It Be, etc all have characteristics and personality to them in large part because of the feel and rhythms Ringo chose. He wasn't a great drummer in the traditional sense, but drumming would not be the same without him. He still tours today with his All Star Band featuring the great Gregg Bissonette on drums, and provides arenas and theaters packed with fans a feeling of love only a Beatle could exude.

The Album: If you were to say "Hey, AAL2014, Abbey Road is the greatest album of all time" I would say... "Perhaps." I love Abbey Road like a family member. It's a warm, inviting, musically viable and excellent collection of songs that combined of the moods of all 4 members of the band. One of the reasons Abbey Road is my favorite Beatles album is because of the feel and dynamic playing Ringo displays. From the laid back, legendary fill of Come Together, to the bluesy brilliance of Oh Darling!, to the simplistic yet well executed "solo" in The End, Ringo's playing on this album exemplifies why he's such an influence.


It's the feel. It's the feel. It's the feel.
(First added to chart: 08/24/2016)
Year of Release:1969Appears in:3,007 charts
Rank in 1969:1Rank Score:151,007
Rank in 1960s1Overall Rank:3
Average Rating: Top rated 91/100 (3,731 votes)
Comments: 390 comments
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10. (=)

Drum Crazy
Compilation
United States Gene Krupa
GENE KRUPA

The Legend: The man who brought drums to the forefront. Not only did Gene have the chops of an all timer, his charm and charisma were like few if any others. In the days of famous drum battles on television, Gene and Buddy would go toe to toe quite often. You may prefer one or the other, but they were the positive and negative of each other playing-wise. Rich's chops and speed were countered every time with a perfectly charming motif of percussive brilliance from Krupa. Neil Peart has been quoted as saying the Gene Krupa Story, the movie on Krupa's life, is what made him want to be a drummer. That's influence right there.

The Album:
(First added to chart: 08/24/2016)
Year of Release:2001Appears in:4 charts
Rank in 2001:None
Rank in 2000sNone
Average Rating:  73/100 (3 votes)
Comments: 0 comments
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Modern Drummer's 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time (2014) composition

Decade Albums %


1930s 0 0%
1940s 0 0%
1950s 4 8%
1960s 8 16%
1970s 14 28%
1980s 12 24%
1990s 3 6%
2000s 8 16%
2010s 1 2%
Artist Albums %


Frank Zappa 2 4%
Dream Theater 2 4%
Emerson, Lake & Palmer 1 2%
Roy Haynes Quartet 1 2%
Queens Of The Stone Age 1 2%
Metallica 1 2%
The Who 1 2%
Show all
Country Albums %


United States 32 64%
United Kingdom 10 20%
Mixed Nationality 3 6%
Sweden 1 2%
Panama 1 2%
Jamaica 1 2%
Nigeria 1 2%
Show all

Modern Drummer's 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time (2014) chart changes

There have been no changes to this chart.
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