Best drummer in King Crimson history?


Junior Member
Best? Impossible to say.

Michael Giles was a groundbreaker. I actually saw him playing live with King Crimson at a small club in London back in my youth. He was skilled and quite musical, a master of dynamics. Somehow he pulled off playing very busily without being bombastic. His double bass drumming was impeccable. Most influential progressive rock drummer of all time? Perhaps.

Andy McColloch's work on Lizard is amazing. His style was definitely based on Giles, but he pulled it off superbly, stretching out with complete ease and never making any mistakes. Sounds to me like he did some heavy Scotch rudimental training at some point. Highly underrated.

Ian Wallace was not as skilled as either Giles or McColloch to my ears but he was an excellent choice for touring. A powerhouse who always played to the seats in the back of the auditorium.

Bruford? It's all been said. A great mind.

Mastolotto, a kick ass player. To Bruford as Ian Wallace was to Michael Giles.

Gavin Harrison is a technical monster. Looking forward to hearing him touring with the latest incarnation along with Mastelotto and Bill Rieflin. His rhythmic illusion concepts are highly developed but of dubious musical value in my opinion.

I've seen Bill Rieflin play on several occasions. I'm not sure if he's up to the standards of the previous KC drummers but he's very solid and plays keys.


Senior Member
My response to the OP’s question is the two-headed Bruford / Mastelotto beast in my opinion.

I’ve had the good fortune of spending time with Pat at two music camps in 2012 and 2014 (just last week) and he has provided plenty of insight into Crimson drumming arrangements playing with Bill Bruford, by himself, with Gavin Harrison, and with Gavin and Bill Rieflin. He is an incredibly talented, generous, and warm guy. You want to play drums just from being around him and seeing / hearing him play.

It was Fripp’s idea to bring Pat into Crimson to play along with Bruford for the “double trio” version. Actually, Bruford was a late add as Fripp originally had another drummer in mind for Pat to pair with. Pat said it was pretty clear from the start that Bill was a little miffed about having to share drumming duties. During the first practices, Bill presented Pat with a list he had made of how two drummers could best play together. It went something like this:

1. Neither drummer plays
2. Bill plays alone
3. Pat plays alone
4. Bill and Pat play together, but in different, interlocking rhythms
5. (couldn’t recall)
6. (couldn’t recall)
7. (couldn’t recall)
8. Allman Brothers

They agreed that #4 would work best and built their drumming arrangements accordingly. Essentially, Pat would anchor the main rhythm will Bill darted in and out, smacking things when you least expected him to which in my opinion, he does better than anyone!

Pat shared some insight as to how the three drummers on the front line version will work with the upcoming Crimson shows. He, Gavin and Bill R. have spent a lot of time coordinating who will handle what. I expect that Pat will be handling a lot of the electronic percussion duties, Bill R. will be anchoring the beat, and Gavin will be doing the Bruford-style thing. I am a big fan of Pat and Gavin, but know little about Bill R.

I have my tickets so we’ll see!

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
Pat M is interesting.. It seems like everything he plays is single stroke rolls but the way he orchestrates things hides it a little. I saw him with Tobias Ralph in Sydney the other month. I really like him. I've mostly listened to albums with Pat so I can't comment much further.