Apparently, this post idea I had two days ago isn’t very original (see this recent Rolling Stone Readers Poll), but here goes.
Manu Katché: Growing up in the 80’s, one of the seminal albums for me was So by Peter Gabriel. And it was in listening to this album over and over again that I came to appreciate the prowess of Manu Katché. To be honest, I haven’t delved very deep into his catalog outside of the various Peter Gabriel ventures, but I really love his style.
Trilok Gurtu: I saw Trilok in Paris a couple of times. He is a tabla guru and has put out quite a few albums collaborating with Susanne Vega among others. He is a very exciting percussionist who reminds me a bit of tabla god Hussein but Trilok is far easier to listen to.
Meg White: People always gave Meg so much shit for not being a more “talented” drummer. I think what they may have wanted to say was more “technical”. In any case, I love those heavy basses and the lockstep she had with Jack. Her sound is distinctive and raw and I couldn’t have imagined The White Stripes any other way.
Phil Collins (Genesis period): OK, so he really went off the pop deep end at one point, but in the early and middle Genesis period (from the Gabriel albums through about And Then There Were Three), he was a god back there on the skins. Chester Thomson was always a great second man, but Phil was the man. I could even go as far as saying his first and second solo albums had some nice drumming on them without selling myself too short.
Terry Bozzio: Perhaps the most insane on my list (since I didn’t include Keith Moon – NOTE: I never really noticed his drumming all that much – perhaps the mixes in the day weren’t all that good and thus Moon the Loon didn’t make my list. Sorry Keith), Terry probably has the best sense of humor as well. Back in Missing Persons with his sister, they were a one-hit legend. But then, once he started touring with Zappa, his mastery knew few limits. Nor his twisted humor. Just listen to Baby Snakes or You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol 3 disk 2 if you doubt it. Titties and beer!
Ringo Starr: Given that the mixes of the first four Beatles albums nearly drowned him out, Ringo still kicked some serious ass on the ensuing 7 Beatles albums and earned his place on the podium. Whether it was the psychedelic stuff on Revolver, or the harder stuff on the White Album, or the Indian stuff on Rubber Soul, Ringo kept the rythym section tight (complimented by the wonderful bass of Paul, of course). People diss Ringo for not being credible as a musician, but you have to give the guy some credit, he was in a band with the world’s greatest songwriters and with an incredibly gifted guitarist as well, and he earned his place replacing Pete Best back in ’61. Re-listen to the albums from Beatles for Sale on, and try to tell me I am wrong.
John Bonham: I could not be a credible music pseudo-critic on drummers without referencing Bonzo. All the polls I found showed the famous Moby Dick solo. I also loved his solos on all the other albums and agree that Zep died on Sept 25, 1980 with him. There are so many legends surrounding Led Zep and Bonzo that it is hard to know what was truth and what was exaggeration but in any case, his musical legacy – the 10 nearly perfect LZ of which I own all the original vinyls including the paper sac and the kaleidoscope! – speaks for itself.
Stewart Copeland: I think lots of folks my age grew up on the reggae-rock sounds of The Police and loved the sound of Stewart’s drums on classics like my favorite, Walking on the Moon. All three members of the band were incredible musicians but I think Stewart was perhaps the most technical. A master of the snare and counter-beat, Copeland kept us bouncing and guessing. I just wish I hadn’t missed the reunion concert in Stade du France a few years back :(
Lars Ulrich: Metallica’s has some kind of monster behind the drum kit. Lars is one of the fastest drummers in the universe and continually surprises (St Anger!). I also noticed that probably one of the reasons that the Black album made such a mainstream splash was that Lars was much slower on that particular album – the guitars were super heavy and still relatively fast, but the drums were kept a bit more tame than on say, Justice for All or Master of Puppets. In any case, Lars is one of my favorites and really impressed me on both Death Magnetic and Beyond Magnetic as years later, he has still got it!
Neil Peart: OK, I am a geek, so there is no way I wouldn’t include the geekiest skins-banger of them all, the drummer of Rush. Often hailed as the greatest drummer ever. And, I have always been a huge fan. Unfortunately, I only saw Rush once but the 360 kit that Neil was using that night was incredible and the solos – my favorite is still YYZ – were sublime. I don’t actually listen to Rush all that much any more, but if I had to pick my favorite drummer of all, Neil would be the dude with the sticks!