Best Rock Drummers

I've seen most of them and by far the two that stand out are Neil Peart of Rush and Ceasar Z. of Golden Earring. For non-rock I would say it's a no brainer with Buddy Rich.
Ginger Baker
Stewart Copeland (spelling?)
For shear greatness the first one that comes to mind is
Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
I remember sitting in the Chicago Stadium, on concert night, waiting for the show to start when an obviously tortured soul screemed "Palmer!!!!".
I speculated this was another drummer who could not duplicate C.P.'s licks.

Other Giants:

John Bonham and Ginger Baker.
Dweller got them exactly right.

Carl Palmer is also part of Asia who's touring again this summer. Steve Howe, ex-lead guitar for Yes is also featured in band.

For Ginger Baker, see the Cream Royal Albert Hall, May 2005 DVD. Great to watch.

John Bonham is on the Led Zep DVD of a couple of years ago, the talent's there, but unfortunately the resolution's not so great.
Keith Moon
Ginger Baker . . . no contest!
That cute lil drummer,Terry Bozzio.
1. Neil Peart 2. John Bonham 3. Terry Bozzio 4. Stuart Copland 5. Lars Ulrich
Danny Carey!!! Who else can play like him?
Ginger Baker goes nuts at being decribed as a Rock drummer!

The best I've ever seen in the flesh is Mr Neil Peart.
Bonham on the Zep DVD is untouchable.
No one touches Keith Moon. He didn't even pay attention to the great things he was doing. Of course, after seeing Terry Bozio w/Zappa and Missing Persons, he deserves a strong second place. And don't forget Chad Wackerman who at age 3 was already playing with Zappa.
Bonham, Peart, Bruford, Copeland.
Danny Carey, Neil Peart and Mike Portnoy
His drumming is like controlled chaos.
Stewart Copeland, the new drummer for GodSmak is pretty amazing also.
copeland and baker are percussionists, ringo and charlie Watts are 'unsung' rock drummers ever...Don Stevenson (MOBY GRAPE) and Mitch Mitchell
..neil peart !!!!

this thread was just worked over on my motorcycle bullitan board (R1100s)

a ranking by gigital dream door follows:

(BTW I do not think that Buddy Rich is a non-rock no brainer.
Not with cats like Elvin Jones about.

1. Neil Peart (Rush)
2. John Bonham* (Led Zeppelin)
3. Carl Palmer (ELP)
4. Keith Moon* (The Who)
5. Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa)
6. Ginger Baker (Cream)
7. Hal Blaine (Session man)
8. Danny Carey (Tool)
9. Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson)
10. Earl Palmer (Session man)
11. Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)
12. Dave Lombardo (Slayer)
13. Benny Benjamin* (Funk Brothers)
14. Ian Paice (Deep Purple)
15. Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge)
16. Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy Osbourne)
17. Stewart Copeland (The Police)
18. Bernard Purdie (Session)
19. Vinnie Colaiuta (Zappa)
20. Jeff Porcaro* (Toto)
21. Bill Ward (Black Sabbath)
22. David Garabaldi (Tower Of Power)
23. Ainsley Dunbar (Jeff Beck)
24. Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)
25. Mike Shrieve (Santana)
26. Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix)
27. Steve Smith (Journey)
28. Al Jackson* (The MGs)
29. Matt Cameron (Soundgarden)
30. Tim Alexander (Primus)
31. Jim Keltner (Session man)
32. Phil Collins (Genesis)
33. Cozy Powell* (Rainbow)
34. Simon Phillips (Toto)
35. Russ Kunkel (Session man)
36. Bobby Jarzombeck (Rob Halford)
37. Carter Beauford (Dave Matthews)
38. Zigaboo Modeliste (The Meters)
39. Jimmy Chamberlain (Smashing Pumpkins)
40. Vinnie Paul (Pantera)
41. Kenny Aronoff (Session man)
42. Alan White (Yes)
43. Mike Giles (King Crimson)
44. Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs)
45. Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull)
46. Mike Mangini (Extreme)
47. Ringo Starr (The Beatles)
48. Roger Hawkins (Arethra Franklin/Session Man)
49. Bobby Elliot (The Hollies)
50. Alex Van Halen (Van Halen)
51. BJ Wilson* Procul Harum)
52. Joe Franco (Good Rats)
53. Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones)
54. Virgil Donati (Planet X)
55. Roger Taylor (Queen)
56. Chad Wackerman (Zappa)
57. Topper Headon (The Clash)
58. Nick Barker (Dimmu Borgir)
59. Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)
60. Danny Seraphine (Chicago)
61. Gene Holgan (Death)
62. John Densmore (The Doors)
63. Max Weinberg (Springsteen)
64. Jabo Starks (James Brown)
65. Lars Ulrich (Metallica)
66. Jerry Allison (Crickets)
67. Phil Ehart (Kansas)
68. Chester Thompson (Santana)
69. Matt McDonoughe (Mudvayne)
70. Dean Castronovo (Journey)
71. Jon Theodore (Mars Volta)
72. Van Romaine (Steve Morse)
73. Ralph Humphrey (Mothers Of Invention)
74. Les Lester (Los Straightjackets)
75. Brian Downey (Thin Lizzy)
76. Brann Dailor (Mastodon)
77. Dick Richards (The Comets)
78. Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle)
79. Stanton Moore (Galactic)
80. Joey Jordison (Slipknot)
81. Ron Wilson (Surfaris)
82. Jack Irons (Pearl Jam)
83. Jim Gordon (Derek And The Dominoes)
84. Nick Mason (Pink Floyd)
85. Eddie Bayers (Session man)
86. Jeff Campitelli (Joe Satriani)
87. Dave Grohl (Nirvana)
88. Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow)
89. Chris Frantz (Talking Heads)
90. Mike Bordin (Faith No More)
91. Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters)
92. Lee Kerslake (Uriah Heep)
93. Phil Selway (Radiohead)
94. Vinnie Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio)
95. Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche)
96. Chad Smith (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
97. Nick Menza (Megadeth)
98. John Dalmayan (System Of A Down)
99. Travis Barker (Blink 182)
100. Ralph Salmins (Session man)
1. Neil Peart
2 Neil Peart
3 Neil Peart
4. John Bonham
5. Have I mention that Neil guy?
Keith Moon is the best I ever saw in concert.

He beat the hell out of them skins!
Ritchie Haywood of "Little Feat"!
The man plays,jazz,rock,creole, funk,blues signatures equally well!
Sometimes all in the same song!
How about Rod Morgenstein.
I have seen several percusionists over the years. Neil Peart continues to showcase his talent. Carl Palmer is excellent as well. Stewart Copeland works in varied styles. I agree Buddy Rich was one of the first drummers to perform like no other back in the day. Go to to view footage of the greatest drummers from Jazz to Rock.
The problem with Neil Pert is that you have to deal with the rest of Rush. Yuck. Sorta like having Bonham as the drummer for the Captain and Tennile.
For the most part the previous posts hit the nail on the head. There are so many great ones that everyone's going to have an opinion like belly buttons. Alan White (Yes) over Bruford, Copeland; Peart is incredible and plays like the Flash; Hendrix's band mate Mitch Mitchell; don't forget Buddy Miles; Bonham was awesome too. I think we tend to pick the drummers from bands we've listened to over the years. But there are many great drummers that I'm just not familiar with because I didn't listen to the particular group at all or enough. I grew up on groups like Yes, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Chicago, Santana, Pink Floyd, and later the Police and Rush. As much as I loved Chicago, I can't even remember their drummers name.
Tommy Lee of course..........Motly Crue and now Supernova
Weim boy, I doubt that you would make the Buddy Rich comment if you had ever seen him perform. Did you ever see him perform? Without any doubt, Rich was and will forever be the greatest. Simply untouchable!!!
I'm sorry but I believe 'you' plural have it backward:
I would rate Bill Bruford (listen to "One of a Kind"), Carl Palmer, Terri Bozzio and Pierre Moerlin (Gong) above Neil Pert and Bonham... however I suppose if we're talking ROCK as opposed to Prog. Rock or Jazz-rock then I can see your point.
Jim Capaldi belongs on any list as long as the one above.
Keith Moon.

You're my hero.
Here's a interesting website that lists all the great drummers, both jazz and rock:
Hellerfi jogged my memory of seeing Buddy Rich on the Johnny Carson show several times- he wasn't a rocker but he was one of the greatest drummers that ever lived (quite possibly the greatest).
When the thread said Rock Drummers I did not include other genres, but I must tip my hat to the greatest soul r&b drummer of all time (former James Brown drummer Jabo Starks "pronounced jab-o." His incredible riffs and beats have been sampled and copied so many times that they are taken for granted as every day beats- but he started the funk and soul beats we hear now and in the past.
mike portnoy, Carter Beauford, mitch mitchell, Ian Paice, steve smith
No one has mentioned Kenny Aronoff and he should be recognized. Also, check out Rodney Holmes, he is simply incredible.

I'll listen to ANYTHING Bill Bruford plays. He is so original and outside the box that it's breathtaking. He is one of a few drummers that you can identify his playing inmediately - not many you can say that about!
There are loads of great ones, but this drummer's vote for the best in rock are:
Simon Phillips
Marc Brzezicki
Danny Carey
Dave Garibaldi
Vinnie Colaiuta
Joey Jordison
Jerry Gaskill knocks against Bonham, Moon, Peart, Porcaro, Copeland, etc., who are all amazing drummers.

For non-rock I would say it's a no brainer with Buddy Rich.
Again, there are many great ones--Bernard Purdie, Han Bennink, Tony Williams, John Hollenbeck, Omar Hakim, etc....but for the greatest ever, I suggest that you see Dennis Chambers in concert. And remember to wear diapers.
ok you guys, if you want to talk about the drummer as a musican and not just a studio drummer, but rather a musician that writes with the band, helps arrange and craft the song, not just a studio that records and tours then i nominate. in addition, the topic is ROCK drummers, and you guys are putting down all kinds of jazz and fusion guys. c'mon.

bill ward
stewart copeland
keith moon
most if not all of the obvious have been mentioned, but i don't think i caught anyone mention Matt Abts of Gov't Mule
Matt Abts needs respect...
Just to keep the thread alive and because this guy is awesome

Virgil Donati
A drummer that "swings" is the great, sadly underrated, Charlie Watts.

07-21-06: Lindisfarne
A drummer that "swings" is the great, sadly underrated, Charlie Watts.
add me to the moon and bonzo list......
I'm going to have to second Matt Abts getting some respect this guy amazes me every time I see him he is a machine. The best though was John Henry Bonham period!
The most accomplished drummmer I have ever come across is Steve Ferrone...although not well known he can play anything as good as if not better than the best (very rare as most drummers are not able to cross over from one genre to another). Steve is absolutely amazing. I have seen him live at least twice. Once with Average White Band in the early 80's and again with Tom Petty in 1999. He has always remained in very high demand as a session drummer. He also played for Duran Duran in the late 80's....unquestionably a versatile drummer who can blues, funk, jazz, pop and rock as good as, if not better than, anyone....something to do with innate timing I guess...he can swing like no other...the timing must be programmed in.

BTW: Swing requires changing the length on notes depending on the BPM of music...faster requires more swing....but getting just the right amount and being able to change this on the fly is very tricky.
Another for Bill Bruford.
07-21-06: Slaw3
I'll listen to ANYTHING Bill Bruford plays. He is so original and outside the box that it's breathtaking. He is one of a few drummers that you can identify his playing inmediately - not many you can say that about!
Slaw3 said it right . . .
Keith Moon - without a shadow of doubt.
His drumming was the soul of rock and roll. Definetly not the most technically proficient drummer there was but nobody and I mean nobody can hold a candle to his manic genius.
God he was good. For those who would doubt please listen to "Live and Leeds".
>>please listen to "Live and Leeds"<<
Complete chaos and lovely to hear. Also Who's Next. It may be difficult to focus on his drumming there because of the superb guitar and bass work but if you concentrate strictly on Moon, it's arguably his best album with Quadrophenia close behind.
How about "Stix" Hooper (the Crusaders).
Ohhhhh Quadrophenia. Damn he drummed like the four horsemen of the apocalypse on that album. Absolutely and utterly brilliant from the first snap of the snare to the last shimmer of his cymbals. Again, if this is strictly about Rock drummers, then Moon was and still is to my mind, unsurpassed.