Who are the top three drummers you admire and why ?


Senior Member
If I could just be a mish mash of three drummers, I’d probably have to try to combine Steve Jordan, Dafnis Prieto, and Vinnie Colaiuta right now. Ask me again next week and I’ll probably have a different answer.


Platinum Member
Well now I only play for an audience of one- it’s me,me, and me are my favorite drummers. I’m in isolation with no internet or communication with anyone. It’s like one of those isolation chambers which is pretty cool cause I’m hallucinating I’m communicating with people on This drum forum - it’s the “inception” of the idea that now I have all you fictitious characters I can communicate. When I wake it up it will all just be a bad dream and Vinnie, Tony, Steve or Bernard can take their rightful place.


Junior Member
1) Joe LaBarbera: A truly underrated, underappreciated player. Another guy that could do it all...everything from Woody Herman to Chuck Mangione to his stellar and stunning work with Bill Evans. That trio's work just knocked me out. The two live "Bill Evans Trio: The Paris Concert" albums almost never leave my turntable(yes...I got them BEFORE CD's even came out). The musicianship on display by Evans, LaBarbera, and Marc Johnson (on bass) borders on the telepathic. There are two drummers that I consciously try to emulate. He is one of them.

2) Peter Erskine: I've followed his career since his Stan Kenton days, when he was 17 or 18 years old. He is one of those guys who seems to reinvent his playing as time goes by. Each "version" just becoming more refined. Today he reminds me of Fred Astaire...so classy and making it look effortless, but you just know he worked his tail off!!

3) Ed Thigpen: His understated, classy playing with Oscar Peterson pretty much says it all. He's the other guy that I try and emulate.


Well-known member
I discovered Joe Morello lately, I like his style very much.. I saw his name often in this thread, I am not surprised.

The track I discovered last week is "Gone with the wind" on the Dave Brubeck album - This is Jazz 3


This thread is about the top drummers but I am unable to put 3 drummers above others as the information I am writing on the internet is perpetual. It would be unfair for me and all the great drummers. ;):)

Can't do it but I sure like a lot of names I've read here.


Junior Member
Neil Peart-As a Canadian boy I was a huge Rush fan and so proud of their Canadian heritage. As time passed I realized how influential he was on not only the Rush sound but most of the lyrics. Shared a passion for outdoor activities as well as a deep love of travelling by motorcycle.

Phil Collins-Next to Rush Genesis was my other love. Was able to see them a few times live sans Peter Gabriel and have seen The Musical Box tribute band as well. Not many bands can lose a front man like Gabriel and have the drummer (of all the band members) step up and fill the void so well. He remained the front man for decades and never seemed to forget his drumming roots. The rest is history including his stellar solo career

Third one is tougher to pick....

Brad Wilk- Dude is a beast imo! Amazing timekeeper for bands like Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave and Prophets of Rage. Kinda flys under the radar in terms of popularity.


Senior Member
Eloy Casagrande (Sepultura) - Maybe the one I'm getting the most inspired by to see perform today. Such an incredible package of raw power (does anybody out there drum harder than this guy?), intensity, yet still undeniably amazing technique (or flair, you could say). Not that big a fan of his band as it is today, but Eloy makes it all worthwhile to see/listen to.

Alex Rudinger (Whitechapel, Good Tiger and many others) - Just incredible to watch him play, so clean and precise drumming. Makes me almost give up on drumming myself just watching this guy.

John Tempesta (White Zombie, Testament, The Cult) - Mainly for the work he did with White Zombie and Testament as I haven't heard him in the other bands, he just plays with the perfect amount of groove, intensity and yet still with a lot of power. Seeing him play on the Testament - Live In London DVD really got to me, and I ranked him highly ever since. And he definately got me lusting for a Tama Bell Brass snare as well, sometime in the future....

Honerable mentions would be Lars Ulrich (for what he did with Metallica at the beginning, he was my biggest inspiration when I started out with bands in the 90's), Ron Welty (The Offspring, a band I listened to a lot when I started getting into punk and heavy music) and Ian Paice (which my father showed me even earlier, incredible drummer, yet I never felt the music was "heavy enough" for me... ).
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Armor of Light

Senior Member
Kenny Aronoff: A fellow bald drummer. A powerhouse and work ethic / dedication to be strived for.
Nicko McBrain: Stepped in to fill some shoes and 40 years on...still exciting to watch. Humour level 1000 but not in a Moon way. Class.
Tommy-Andy-Cozy-Bobby-Ian-John-Les-Filthy-Bill, etc..: Rotating podium finishes and always at the top for inspiration.

Vapor Trail

Junior Member
Steve Smith -- he inspired to want to pick up drums in my youth when I was given my first album, Journey Evolution. So I'll be the first in this chain to admit to being a Journey fan. Smith's drumming with Journey is simply awesome. I had no idea I was stumbling onto one of the best drummers in history. His jazz/fusion playing is beyond reproach. And such an amazing educator. I've seen Smith several times over the decades, with Journey and after, mostly with Vital Information. At one VI show, I had the table right in front of his kit. His hihat was sliding during the show, so he asked me to help out and keep in in place during certain song passages. So I got to practically be his roady! I also went to a clinic back in the 90's and was the lucky winner of a Sonor snare. He signed the batter head for me. It's on the wall in a frame behind me as I'm typing this.

Neil Peart -- Rush and his playing/lyrics became a massive influence on me as I grew to love progressive rock beginning in my teens. Such an architect of brilliant drum parts. So sad that he's gone.

Bill Bruford -- being limited to three drummers makes this a tough choice! So many other drummers have been such an influence and inspiration. Bruford, however, has to make the list. His performances with Yes are stunning. Earthworks! His sense of timing and placement is unmatched, in my opinion. A band I was in for several years covered Heart of the Sunrise. Learning that tune note for note felt like a graduate class in drumming. It was like climbing a great mountain. Getting to the top was so rewarding. What a blast to play. So creative and powerful.


Platinum Member
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi:
It is told that when he met the Japanese Monk, Amrutbhai Modi, Gandhi began practicing a small ceremonial drum.

Richard Feynman:
He would play hand percussion on occasion. I believe there is a youtube video out there showing a performance.

Theodore Ronald Brailey:
Piano Player(technically a percussion instrument) who played on, calming passengers, while the Titanic sank; sacrificing the fight to find a turn in line to attempt helping keep those seeking safety calm and therefore more efficient at loading into the limited number of lifeboats while soothing those coming to grips with their fate.

There is so much more to the inspiration we can find in humanity than one aspect of a persons whole.
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Well-known member
I read Ringo Starr a couple of times, I would like to add that the Beatles would not be the Beatles without Ringo. In my opinion, one of the greatest bands of all time.

I like Ringo's drumming in Magical Mystery tour, STG pepper, White album, Abbey road, at least.

Definitely a very important drummer for me too.


Well-known member
I agree about Ringo as well. But you have to take into consideration when these drummers were on the scene so to speak. 1910, 1930, 1950, 1990. 1890? Another member here posted a video of the history of the drums and how they were called Trap sets. Anyway I feel everyone is talented in some way. You just need to find yours not someone else yours. If you do that maybe someday years from now you will be in the top three of whatever you choose to do. God Bless you all.


Active member
Buddy Rich - it was seeing him perform when I was in 2nd grade that made me want to become a drummer. I remember it vividly.

Phil Collins - no one influenced me more in my teens than Phil. He was everywhere at the time, and he really inspired me as a singing drummer. I finally got to see him play with Chester Thompson on the last Genesis tour - the last time Phil was really playing drums, I believe. What a thrill.

Neil Peart - well, what can I say? A true hero, and I have seen him play about 20 times over the years. He was fantastic every time. So many great concert memories.


Well-known member
Niel Peart in Hemispheres, the whole disk, not missing a single second, I would say it's simply Epic.

I'll play that disk right now.
John French - the most creative rock drummer I've heard.
Frankie Dunlop - totally selfless player with a great groove, really lived inside those Monk's tunes.
Max Roach - Saxophone Colossus has the best jazz drumming I've ever heard.

Ask me tomorrow and I'll probably give you three different names.


Well-known member
John French - the most creative rock drummer I've heard.
Frankie Dunlop - totally selfless player with a great groove, really lived inside those Monk's tunes.
Max Roach - Saxophone Colossus has the best jazz drumming I've ever heard.

Ask me tomorrow and I'll probably give you three different names.
I agree Saxophone Colossus is a great album.

Deleted member 525878

I could watch him play all day long with just a snare drum. I have recordings where he is just playing for the tune and his timekeeping, sound, and nuances are just impeccable. For me, he was the greatest big band drummer. Another of his many gifts was his incredible stamina during his solos.
Thankfully, my parents would let me stay up late when he appeared on Carson.

So there I was, at my local record shop, and I came across what was to be my first ECM album purchase; "Timeless", by the late, great guitarist John Abercrombie with Jan Hammer on keys and Jack on drums. Came home, put on "Lungs", and I had no idea what I was in for! Up-tempo swinging that snaked around the pulse and was surging like a restless ocean. Totally freewheeling and cerebral. His solo section contained playing that reminded me Milford Graves, incredible foot speed, and Elvin-ish phrases. The song closes with a funk-ish section that included some Linear patterns, and, again, some incredibly fast bass drum licks. I was completely amazed and a bit traumatized. Since that fateful afternoon at age 17, he has been my all-time favorite player. I could go on and on about him, but I'll focus on a few more things; His incredible, seemingly endless vocabulary of licks and his ability to transcend technique and play great ideas. His incredible use of Dynamics. And all the great cymbal playing! A true innovator!

Scary-good playing with Mahavishnu, and his Atlantic solo recordings just blew my teenage mind! Billy played it before Simon did, as far as I'm concerned. And, like Jack, a wonderful composer of creative music. The Incredible Hulk of drummers. Speed, Technique, and wonderful playing with odd-time signatures. I recall an episode of The Downbeat Award Show when he was behind that beautiful blue Ludwig Octaplus set playing Lopsy Lu with Stanley, Chick, and Jean-Luc! He flew around those toms with sixteenths and I was amazed at his cleanness. You might be able to see it on YouTube.

These three could keep anyone busy for the rest of their lives playing!
If the list could be larger, I would include Tony Williams, Joe Morello, Elvin Jones, Vinnie, Dave, and more modern players.


Neil Peart
Bill Ward
Phil Ehart

I feel no explanation needed .

I have to add Gary Mallaber played on some great stuff including......
Van Morrison
Steve Miller Band
Eddie Money .