Carl Palmer and Steve Gadd were my two favorites.
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Two completely different styles but I really like John Bonham and Keith Moon. I don't think there is another drummer who understands time the way Bonham does--he does so much with so little it is phenomenal. Check out "Houses of the Holy" for some great stuff (though any Zep will do!). Moon is the antithesis, all motion and action but it all seems to hold together. Check out "Who's Next" for some of his best stuff. For another take I like Stewart Copeland of the Police. It's all tight and contained but he uses all of the surfaces and cymbals to propel the music forward. Of the studio musicians I like Russ Kunkel, who worked with James Taylor, Jackson Browne, ETC. Love the drums!
for rock, Bill Bruford is at my top of the list "One of a Kind".
Also Pierre Moelen of Gong "Expresso" or "Expresso II" not generally recognized.
My all time favorite drummer is Jack Dejohnette.. the abstract expressionist of the ecm label..
to say nothing of the young Tony Williams with Miles or anything Elvin Jones. Oh yeah, Steve Gadd, well of course.
A strong second on Keith Moon, Steve Gadd, Bill Brufored, actually everyone mentioned, also Paul Thompson, Jim Gordon,Jim Keltner, Daniel Seraphine, Phil Collins(check out Brand X), Mitch Mitchell, Ritchie Hayward, Nick Mason, Terry Bozio, Billy Cobham, Narada Micheal Walden, Lenny White, Johnny Guerin, Jeff Hamilton, Alphonso Mouson, and Keith Moon (yeah I know I already mentioned him but he warrants two more votes). I'm sure I'm missing several.....
To some extent subjective criteria determines whether or not a player is musical. Poorly informed listeners and people with fairly pedestrian musical sensibilities (most people) will spit out a very different list of players than a voracious listener who knows s##t from shinola. Dave Weckl and Steve Gadd have way too much Kenny G. in them to seem interesting when you can listen to:
Pierre Tanguay... and most of the guys Xiekitchen mentioned.
Terry Bozio, from Missing Persons. Alwaythought he was good on that album, just saw an article in Drummer magazine, he was also w/ Zappa, (and others), lots of classical training. Now has a new CD out in which he plays a MASSIVE drum kit. The pictures shows the drums marked with letters to indicate notes, so I think he's playing melodies on the drums. The disc is called Chamber. I'm going to get it from Amazon if I ever get off Audiogon!
Phil Collins has to be up there because he wrote so much music... but my all time favorite as a pure drummer has to be Steve Ferrone.
He may not be well known and has mostly done contract work.
I have heard him play live with Average White Band in the late 70's, then with Duran Duran for a stint (Notorious album) and then I lost track of him untill he appeared with Tom Petty live and featured on the Wildflowers album.
Although guys like Buddy Rich or Neal Peart can probably "out drum" Steve in terms of BPM or overall activity ...there are very few that can achieve so much feeling from drumming. Steve makes slight adjustments in timing that create huge feeling.
I absolutely agree with this statement "does so much with so little". Frankly, he's my favorite rock drummer by far. Charlie Watts is sort of the same as far as doing so much with so little. Back in my Carl Palmer bombastics worshipping days, I could never appreciate the Haiku simplicity of Watts' drumming. Only in the last few years, when I started learning some of Bonham's charts, did I start to realize how syncopatically complicated his basically simple patterns sounded.
For a musical drum solo, check out Neil Peart's solo on "Rush in Rio". I imagine the solo on the "R30" collection is similar.
Lots of great drummers in these lists, for sure.
Fabulou is hardly a way to describe a so called drummer who has a hard time holding a basic four four beat! The guy stumbles all over himself---it's silly. And yes Watts is even worse---watching him crossover from his snare to his hi-hat is nasty. These guys were in the right place at the right time. It clearly has nothing to do with talent.
"Musical" drummer?Hands down...BOZZIO! He does in fact tune his drums to musical notes. The best of these example are his solo discs.Hard to find imports or buy directly from his site. Just him, and musically awesome. At times, he his playing multiple syncopations divided by left and right hand/feet, sounding like two seperate drummers. You must hear this!
"Chamber" is orchestral music composed by him and played with a full orchestra and some rock instruments. It is an aquired taste, but essential if you are a Bozzio fan. IMHO, he is a living legend in the drumming world.
Oh, and another Zappa alumni...Chad Wackerman. He writes his own stuff which is very fusion oriented. I am a little biased here since my son studied under Chad's father, Chuck Wackerman, while playing in the Los Alamitos HS Jazz band. A great teacher, who has 3 sons that are proffessional drummers. Youngest son Brooks Wackerman has done work with Danny Elfman and an extended stint with "Suicidal Tendancies" amoung others.
I didn't see him mentioned, maybe I missed it. There are lots of good drummers mentioned already BUT Cozy Powell did some great work with Rainbow and later with someone else that I can't think of now. During the 70's Barriemore Barlow was an outstanding drummer for Jethro Tull.
I'm not sure about the 'musical' part. Rythmn is part of music, but is it musical?
I figured I would be the first to mention B. J. Wilson, but Jaybo, you beat me to it. Right at the top, from the rock genre, in terms of using the drums for dramatic color. I'm glad someone stuck up for Ringo. I think he was an excellent drummer, very musicianly. Many times (not in this thread) I've heard people diss him in favor of his contemporary, Charlie Watts. That, I don't get.
Must also jump to Ringo's defense - yes, he is fabulous (or fab). Perhaps he does not have the technical skills many others have. I do remember hearing him admit as much in an interview, that part of his sound comes from his difficulty in moving around his drum kit. However, as TVAD points out, this is not about the drummer with the best chops, but the most musical ones, and on this count, Ringo's work with the Beatles qualifies him. His drumming had a minimalist yet explosive sound, in which every hit counted, and was a major part of the sound of the band. His style (and the style of fellow rhythm-section member Paul) was a distinctive part of the band's sound, different from any other band's and did not hide behind the guitars and vocals. It is rare to hear someone play like he did, and when I hear that style, I think "Oh, someone's trying to sound like the beatles". If you accept the Beatles music as great, then you must accept Ringo as a great musical drummer. You may make a convincing case that he's a technical oaf, but the music worked.