Most inovative and influential drummers.


I thought this might be thought provoking and interesting. The question is what drummers do you think are BOTH innovative (offering something new in their style/technique/sound/ etc. AND influential (meaning many other drummers have adapted the unique aspects of their drumming)? This is not who is the best drummer, or who is your favorite drummer. Who is the drummer, what were his/her innovations or unique contributions that changed drumming. Let's have fun and keep it positive.

I will start with Elvin Jones because he seemed to realy end the influence of old time swing in jazz and usher in a period where drummers were comfortable playing more emotionally expressive, complicated, and less traditional backing on the drums. I can see a path from Elvin to the great jazz/rock fusion drummers like Billy Cobhan.

I will also add Ringo - it was clear that he wasn't a studied or technically gifted drummer - but he played simply and joyfully and a million kids said to themselves I want to do that. And they could - Elvin's influence seemed to impact elite drummers. Ringo - a million kids who picked up the sticks and joined rock and roll bands. Ok now your turn. Add a new drummer or expand upon what others come up with.


Platinum Member
Max Roach. I'm no jazz aficionado, but my untrained ear hears a distinct change in approach from the time Max hit the scene. He played with everybody. Was at the very top of the heap and influenced a host of others who followed.

Steve Gadd. No doubt there were rudimental based drummers before Gadd, but he seemed to take the concept to a new level.

Vinnie. Probably the most "complete" drummer I've ever encountered. The more I see/hear of him, the most I'm convinced there is nothing he can't do and exceptionally few musical situations where he'd be considered out of place.


Gold Member
See the thread below this one for innovative and influential.

Also I'd mention Papa Jo Jones..truly innovative and his demeanor was so relaxed and effortless. Masterful.


Platinum Member
Chick Webb. Really set the bar for the big band drummer. He was probably the first to put the drummer out front as a soloist and band leader. Without the famous battle of the bands of 1937, the next drummer on my list may never have become the legend he was. Most of the greats of the swing and bebop eras list him as an influence.

Gene Krupa. He was the first "matinee idol" drummer and he is largely responsible for the configuration and functionality of the modern drum set. Also named as a huge influence on those who followed him.

Papa Jo Jones. He was an innovator in the way he played brushes and the sounds he got out of the hi-hats. His prominence as Count Basie's drummer meant he was a big influence on everyone of the era, including Buddy Rich.

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I'd go along with Ringo, his work with the Beatles is certainly innovative and as far as influence is concerned... he's probably the most influential drummer of all time.

Tony Williams is another very innovative drummer who as influenced thousand of drummers.

In modern drummer, I'd like to mention Benny Greb, his approach to drumming in his DVD "The Language of Drumming" is very innovative and has influenced me dramatically despite my old age.

Terry Bozzio's also in a world of his own, certainly innovative and somewhat influential in the world of drumming.

Perhaps Louie Bellson for being the drummer responsible for the double bass drums kit, I know he wasn't the first drummer to use double bass drums, but he's the one who made it popular.