The greatest ever British drummer
11th Mar 2014 | 16:49
The Greatest Ever British Drummer
From 100 of the best drummers ever to come from the United Kingdom of Great Britain, you voted for this top 10.
The two rounds across which this contest was decided were tight and the results interesting, proving that not only has GB come up with some of the world's most incredible drummers, but you lot have great taste in your selection.
So without further ado, drum roll please, we run down the top 10 Greatest Ever British Drummers, as voted for by you the readers of Rhythm and MusicRadar!
Ringo, of course, polled plenty of votes in both qualifying and final Greatest British Drummer polls – proving that, despite his detractors, Ringo is still one of Britain’s best loved ambassadors for our instrument.
The Fab Four’s drily witty tub thumper created some of the finest grooves in pop history: ‘Come Together’, ‘Rain’, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and plenty more.
It’s worth remembering that The Beatles actively sought out Ringo’s services after Pete Best left the group, as he was known to be a great drummer for his work with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Liverpool’s top show band. He was integral in the band winning over US audiences too, and his performance on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago inspired a whole generation of great drummers to pick up sticks and buy a Ludwig kit.
Simon is one of the UK’s most accomplished drummers with a list of drumming credits longer than Mr Tickle’s arm.
His recoding credits include Jeff There And Back that features the awesome ‘Space Boogie’, Michael Schenker, The Who, Tears For Fears and Gary Moore, and he has just left mega-selling US stars Toto after playing with them since 1992. Toto’s Steve Lukather even named one of the tracks on his Candyman album ‘Party In Simon’s Pants’ after his drummer.
Simon’s placing in the top 10 of this Greatest British Drummers poll just goes to show that not only is he one of this nation’s finest sticksmen.
A Great British institution, for all sorts of reasons. But behind Ginger’s wild-eyed, abrasive exterior lies the soul of a true musician, one with a deep love of jazz and of all things drum.
His incredible work with Cream, The Graham Bond Organization, Blind Faith and Airforce bear witness to his feel, swing, and jazz influence – the great British jazzer Phil Seamen was his mentor, after all. In his more recent output he has returned to jazz and world music collaborations with the likes of Fela Kuti.
Hugely influential, no doubt – and his legacy, particularly in the field of hard rock, is assured thanks to his ‘Toad’ solo and tracks like ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’.
One of British rock’s best and most influential players, it’s only right and proper that you voted him into the top 10.
Founding member Ian is the only member of Deep Purple to have performed on every record, including the band’s most rcent, Now What? (2013). Ian was one of the drummers that truly defined hard rock drumming from the late ‘60s and throughout the ‘70s with his extraordinary playing. Check out ‘Black Night’ with its fantastic unison intro fill, shuffle groove and cross-rhythm feel, or ‘Fireball’ with its thunderous fills and irresistible swing feel.
The youngest drummer to make this list has undoubtedly earned it through his work with space-rock power trio Muse.
Behind singer Matt Bellamy’s often operatic songs and the band’s theatrical arrangements, Dom’s beats underpin proceedings solidly but with no small amount of flair. His power and groove effectively fill out the trio’s music, helping them sound truly huge. With each of Muse’s albums, Dom’s sound has evolved along with that of the band.
Embracing electronics too, and keeping pace with the band’s ambitious scope that’s encompassed everything from funk-rock to space rock to dubstep and Queen-style bombast, Dom proves himself time and again to be one of the UK’s best and most versatile drummers.
Phil is undoubtedly one of the UK’s best known and loved drum exports – the first real superstar drummer with incredible prog chops and a proven track record behind the kit that belies his pop star career and that ‘drumming Gorilla’ fill.
With Genesis and Brand X, Phil’s masterful technique honed by hours of practice and overwhelming passion for playing shines through. Whether laying down tracks such as Genesis’s ‘Abacab’ and ‘Behind The Lines’ or Brand X’s ‘And So To F’, or entering into amazing drum duets with Chester Thompson or Bill Bruford, Phil’s deft touch and great sound more than qualify him to be one of our top 10 Greatest British Drummers, so well done on voting him here!
Mark is one of the British drumming scene’s most loved players, so it’s not so surprising to find him right up there in our Greatest British Drummers poll.
Since his time in anthemic Scots chart-toppers Big Country he’s carved out a reputation as a solid session guy with great feel and a big sound to drive home the big stadium hits. Mark Unpronounceablename (as Smash Hits called him) also played with Ultravox, Procol Harum, Pete Townshend, Fish, The Pretenders and more, and played on The Cult’s classic Love album in 1985, including the brilliant ‘Rain’ and ‘Revolution’.
More recently he’s toured with Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother) and Casbah Club, Thunderclap Newman and From The Jam with Bruce Foxton. In 2010 he got to double drum with his hero Phil Collins at the Prince’s Trust gig along with Eric Clapton and Roger Taylor.
Again, no real surprise to find Moonie near or at the top of any drummers poll, ever.
Just check out his playing on tracks like ‘The Ox’, ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, ‘My Generation’ and more to understand why Keith consistently tops polls such as this. Nobody would question Keith’s considerable talent on the drums, but it was his exciting rock star persona and the energy and humour with which he approached drumming that has inspired countless drummers since.
Keith’s showmanship, exciting ‘soloist’ style of playing – tearing round the kit for dramatic fills – and onstage pranks are the basis for the popular stereotype of the wild-eyed crazy rock drummer.
A surprise result, this, and the Style Council and Paul Weller man very nearly beat Bonham to the top spot! His massive polling of votes in both the qualifying and final poll is testament to Whitey’s popularity in the drum community.
Steve began drumming at the age of nine, and he landed the job of drummer in former Jam frontman Paul Weller’s Style Council while still in his teens. Steve soon made a mark with the chart-topping soul/pop band; his love of Art Blakey and solid pop sensibilities shining through on hits such as ‘Shout To The Top’ and ‘You’re The Best Thing’. He went on to be the Modfather’s drummer for the next 25 years, playing on Weller’s ’90s classics Wild Wood and Stanley Road. He remains a hugely respected figure on the British drum scene, and currently plays in Trio Valore, is the UK’s frontman for Mapex drums and also teaches.
Well done, Steve, for a well-deserved second placing in our Greatest British Drummer poll.
No surprises here. Bonzo was always going to be the front runner, and rightly so. His innovative and powerful playing in the world’s greatest rock band set the standard and he has inspired generations of rock drummers with his ability to swing yet lay down thunderous rock grooves.
His sublime, swinging, powerful playing on ‘When The Levee Breaks’, ‘Rock And Roll’, ‘Good Times, Bad Times’ and more has inspired every drummer in every style of playing for the last five decades. His tragic early death in 1980 spelled the end of the mighty Zeppelin, but his, and the band’s, legacy is proving immortal.