The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years

10th Aug 2010 | 07:52

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Steve White
Paul Weller/Style Council

Seven days ago we kick-started an online poll to find out who you thought was the greatest drummer of the last quarter of a century. To say we've had an excellent response would be an understatement. More than 102,000 votes later a winner has been crowed, but who is it? Read and click on to find out...

The godfather of UK drums, Steve White has backed some of the finest talent to come out of Britain over the last three decades. From Paul Weller to Oasis, Steve has proved himself time and time again as one of the greatest drummers the UK has ever produced.

Next: Stephen Morris

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Stephen Morris
Joy Division/New Order

A veteran of the Manchester rock scene, Stephen came to the world’s attention towards the end of the ‘70s with Joy Division, but in the last 25 years he’s shown his drumming credentials with New Order, The Other Two and Bad Lieutenant.

Next: Jeff Porcaro

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Jeff Porcaro
Toto/Michael Jackson

To say that Jeff Porcaro is well respected in the drumming community would be doing the former Toto man a huge disservice. Widely referenced by drummers of all genres as a hero, Jeff’s credits include Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Dangerous albums. Jeff received a quite a few votes from the Rhythm team.

Next: Cozy Powell

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Cozy Powell
Drummer for Rainbow, Whitesnake and here, Black Sabbath in early 1990 with Tony Iommi, Tony Martin and Neil Murray

A true monster behind the kit, Cozy Powell played with the cream of the UK’s rock scene through the ‘70s and ‘80s thanks to stints with Rainbow, Whitesnake, Deep Purple and more. A much-missed drumming powerhouse.

Next: Josh Freese

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Josh Freese
A Perfect Circle/Devo

The busiest man in drums? Possibly. Josh Freese is not just an awesome drummer, but he’s a chameleon as well. His 20-year career has seen him plonked behind the kit for everyone from A Perfect Circle, Guns N’ Roses and The Offspring to Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus and Rickie Lee Jones.

Next: Terry Bozzio

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Terry Bozzio
Frank Zappa/ solo

To have a kit as ridiculously oversized as those used by Terry Bozzio, you must have the skills to back it up. Thankfully, he does. An insanely musical drummer, Bozzio made his name with Frank Zappa in the ‘70s and has since played on dozens and dozens of albums. In fact, it’s difficult to tell which is bigger, his kit or his CV. We’d probably plump for his kit, though.

Next: Stewart Copeland

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Stewart Copeland
The Police

As an undisputed drumming revolutionary, Stewart Copeland is quite rightly name-checked by drummers all over the world as an inspiration and influence. His fusing of reggae rhythms with rock stylings helped The Police become one of the biggest bands on the planet. He continues to work tirelessly with other bands and on an array of soundtrack projects.

Next: Thomas Lang

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Thomas Lang

The master of stick tricks he may be, but Thomas Lang is so much more. A rock solid player as well as a showman, his instructional DVDs have become the stuff of legend and few can hold an audience in the palm of their hand quite like the infuriatingly-talented Austrian. He’s also a versatile session player, having performed with Robbie Williams, Victoria Beckham, Ronan Keating, Glenn Hughes and a whole load more.

Next: Steve Gadd

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Steve Gadd
Eric Clapton/Paul Simon

When you’re the drummer of choice for Eric Clapton you must be pretty tasty, and Steve Gadd is certainly that. One of the most respected session players ever, it was Gadd that made being a hired gun cool as he worked with some of the music world’s top stars, including Clapton, Paul Simon and Paul McCartney.

Next: Brann Dailor

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Brann Dailor

Following in the footsteps of the metal pioneers of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Mastodon’s Brann Dailor is fast becoming one of the genre’s hottest players. Brann’s star has risen so high that the mighty Dave Grohl recently pinpointed the Mastodon man as one of the finest sticksmen in the world. Which isn’t bad, really, is it?

Next: Chad Smith

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Chad Smith
Red Hot Chili Peppers

As the driving force behind the funk rock behemoth that is the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chad Smith has rarely been out of the spotlight during the last 25 years. As well as forming one of the most watertight rhythm sections in history with Chili’s bandmate Flea, Chad has also wowed us in recent years with killer side projects like Chickenfoot and the Bombastic Meatbats.

Next: Phil Collins

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Phil Collins

Say what you like about his crooning, but there’s no denying Phil Collins’ impact on the drumming world. His time at the drum stool for Genesis alone ensures that we will always pine for Phil to pick up his sticks again.

Next: Vinnie Colaiuta

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Vinnie Colaiuta
Frank Zappa/Sting, and here onstage with Jeff Beck

A real thinking man’s drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta is a technical master of his art. Equally skilled playing jazz, rock, pop, fusion or funk, he’s able to boast a ridiculously-impressive discography, including a whopping 19 albums with Frank Zappa.

Next: Nicko McBrain

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Nicko McBrain
Iron Maiden

The larger-than-life sticksman replaced Clive Burr at the Iron Maiden drum stool in 1982, and he hasn’t looked back since, making himself pivotal to the unmistakable Maiden sound. Famed for his punishing single kick work, Nicko continues to play with frightening levels of energy and intensity to this day.

Next: Travis Barker

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Travis Barker

Seemingly never one to stand still for too long at a time, during the last decade Travis has not only become an in-demand remixer, fashion designer and reality TV star, he’s also established himself as one of the world’s most inventive and innovative drummers. Whether it be with Blink-182, Transplants or his new solo record, everything Travis seems to touch turns to gold. His versatile skills were enough to take joint fifth place in our poll, as he came out in a dead heat with...

Next: Dave Grohl

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Dave Grohl
Nirvana/Foo Fighters/Them Crooked Vultures

What can we say about Dave Grohl that hasn’t already been said a million times? Quite simply, from his time behind the kit for Washington punks Scream through to fulfilling his dreams by playing alongside John-Paul Jones with Them Crooked Vultures, Dave has always played with a raw power that few can match. Oh, and anyone with a CV that includes Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Queens Of The Stone Age can’t be too bad, can they?

Next: Neil Peart

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Neil Peart

Neil ‘The Professor’ Peart joined up with Canadian power trio Rush way back in 1974, and since then he’s undoubtedly become one of the most respected drummers on the face of the Earth. Insanely technical and immensely gifted, Peart has caught the attention of drum enthusiasts over the years thanks to his array of eye-popping solos, effortless style and a penchant for bucking the trend by switching between matched and traditional grip and using the butt-end of his sticks. His influence on Rush extends beyond his almighty drum work, as he is also the band’s primary lyricist.

Next: Gavin Harrison

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Gavin Harrison
Porcupine Tree

As the current kings of UK prog, Porcupine Tree have attracted a huge fanbase of die-hards with their time-signature defying, fluid rock sound, and drummer Gavin Harrison has been a huge part of that since joining the band back in 2002. Gavin’s prog background stretches right back to 1983 and his time with Renaissance, while he currently juggles drumming duties with Porcupine Tree and King Crimson. The latter involves an eye-catching dual drum set-up with Pat Mastelotto.

Next: Mike Portnoy

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Mike Portnoy
Dream Theater

While he is of course intrinsically linked to Dream Theater, Mike Portnoy has opened himself up to a whole new audience this year after he stepped up to the plate to record, and subsequently tour, with Avenged Sevenfold in the wake of Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan’s death. The result is arguably Avenged’s strongest output to date, and Portnoy is deservedly enjoying the adulation of the band’s army of fans.

Of course, many were well aware of the drummer’s talents long before he joined up with M Shadows and co. His work with Dream Theater is jaw-droppingly impressive (as is his workload with the prog masters, churning out pretty much an album a year since their debut in 1989), and his stints with OSI, Transatlantic, Neal Morse, Liquid Tension Experiment and more mean that he’s one of the busiest sticksmen around, as well as one of the most visually engaging an impressive. No wonder he earned more than 29,000 votes in our poll.

Next: Joey Jordison

The 20 greatest drummers of the last 25 years
Joey Jordison
Slipknot/Korn/Rob Zombie

A masked metal messiah. Ever since blast beating his way into the drum world back in 1999 as Slipknot unleashed their stunning debut, Joey has cemented himself as the master of metal playing. Lightning fast-yet-supremely-technical, Joey has proven himself equally adept outside of the confines of Slipknot, having worked with Korn, Rob Zombie, Murderdolls and more, as well as stepping in to save the day at the last minute when depping for Lars Ulrich at Download 2004.

Like Travis Barker, Joey has branched out beyond drumming, enjoying success as a producer and even appearing in a handful of movies. However, for us, he’ll always be a drum legend first and foremost, and it looks like you agree with us as he was the runaway winner of our Greatest Drummer of the Last 25 Years poll, taking an amazing 37 percent of the votes. That means that the Slipknot man earned more than 38,000 votes in just seven days on his way to being crowned as the finest drummer of the last quarter of a century.

Here's what he had to say about topping the poll.

Liked this? Now read: 50 greatest drummers of all time

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