I grew up playing in bands and made my living at it for many a year. I did my time, paid my dues… released the major label album. And it all fell apart in typical Behind the Music banal fashion. My best instrument is the bass, so throughout my life I’ve always had a deep connection to the drums – it’s a symbiotic relationship. In my opinion, the rhythm section is the soul of any good band. All this to say, I know a thing or two about what makes a drummer great…or not so great. The following list is a collection of players I’ve always thought to be wildly overrated. I think it’s a fair assessment…based on my experience as a musician and as an appreciator. I also know how passionate drummers get, so I say to you, my drumming friends – don’t get your balls in an uproar!

Questlove – Somehow this guy has been granted entry into the pantheon of all-time drummers – a total mystery. His generic hip-hop feel, dearth of fills and ass-less snare sound, thins out every track he’s on. Where’s the goddamned bottom end? He’s what I refer to as a tapper – no power, man. He really needs to change his name from Questlove to Tappy McTapperston. The most interesting thing about him is the Goody hair pick in his ‘fro.

Max Weinberg – His samey same, snare-heavy four on the floor was fine the first million times we heard it. A musician is supposed to stretch, try new feels, riffs and approaches. Max has been stuck in the same groove since Born to Run. Yet, he’s regarded as one of rock’s greatest of all time. He’s the drumming equivalent of a peanut butter sandwich.

Steve Gadd – Gadd is an undeniably gifted drummer, but he’s dipped into the same bag of tricks his entire career. He’s got the “Aja” sixteenth-note triplet fill, the stutter shuffle – his variation on Bernard Purdie — the snare roll stuff he first showed us on “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover,” and all that generic samba crapola. Like I said– he’s good…but he is without a doubt overrated. He keeps returning to his old standby crutches like a dog returneth to his own vomit. His metronome feel is more robot than human…there’s no air in between the notes.

Matt Cameron – Always a middling player, neither here nor there. He never laid down an adequate groove, his fills are underwhelming and he constantly hangs from the bottom of the beat like a goddamned junebug on a windshield wiper. Now, some people might enjoy that draggy feel, but for me it’s irritating as hell. I don’t know if this guy is personally a stick in the mud, but it definitely sounds like his sticks are in the mud! Cameron has the ponderous accomplishment of boring the world to tears in two major bands.

Ginger Baker – Lauded to the high heavens by both critic and fan alike, Baker’s indulgent overplaying always sounded to me like somebody dropping a heavy cardboard box down a large flight of stairs. Dull, thuddy and always too many notes! Ginger fancied himself a jazz player working within the rock context. I hear no jazz in in his approach, feel, mechanics or philosophy. On top if it all, the guy is a violent, narcissistic muldoon who felt he was the most important aspect to Cream – the truth is, he was one unbelievably lucky bastard to be along for that ride.

Tommy Lee – I can’t tell you how many drummers I’ve known that have had mad respect for this guy. Why? His straight-armed, sluggish, hamfisted feel always seems to drag behind the beat. Of course, Mötley Crüe’s music is pretty goddawful, still, Lee never did them any favors with his lack of invention and lunkheaded pounding.

Hal Blaine – There has never been a group of rock musicians more anally tongue bathed than the fucking Wrecking Crew. Personally, I find them all overrated – except for Glenn Campbell, who was the only one who couldn’t sight read out of the bunch. Hal Blaine was the Crew’s de facto leader/loudmouth. Talk about the accolades this guy’s received over the years. The truth is, he is the most swing-less drummer of all time. Listen to his work on the Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel in particular – just a morass of herky jerk, stilted malarkey. Blaine would always brag about how versatile he was, how he could play everything from Sinatra to the Beach Boys. Fact is, he was equally godawful in every genre.

Keith Moon – Let me preface this entry by saying I actually enjoy Moon’s playing a lot, but if you really think about – he was a pretty shit player. To be sure, he’s the biggest over-player in the history of rock. It’s a pity, because so much of The Who’s music could have benefited from a steadier groove. Mooney never gave it to them. When Keith died, they went overboard in the opposite direction hiring that dishwater snoozer Kenny Jones. I will say, he was fun to watch – his performance in the Stone’s Rock and Roll Circus still stands as one of the most kick-ass, balls-out drumming expositions ever recorded on film. But he was ultimately a detriment to the band – and was horribly inconsistent.

Charlie Watts – Few drummers have been as heralded as Watts not only in his work with the Stones, but his jazz forays as well. The thing about the Rolling Stones is, their music is so tremendous that virtually any decent drummer could have sat in and done the job as well as old Charlie. I’m not saying I hate the way the guy plays, it’s just that he always sounds like he’s about to fall off a cliff – especially his fill work, which is pretty much non-existent. Some might say that dangerous feel fit well with the band’s overall gestalt, but I find that to be a rationalization. He’s just not a steady player, you can especially hear it on songs like “All Down the Line” and “Emotional Rescue” –  it’s a rickety groove, ever threatening to fall apart like a house of cards.  Let’s just be honest, the guy was never that competent. Considering the massive regard he’s enjoyed over the years – he is without a doubt lavishly overpraised.

Lars Ulrich – Metallica is simply the most revered, best loved metal band of all time. And guess what – their drummer sucks. Period. Ulrich couldn’t lay down a straight beat if someone was pointing a gun to his head. Has he somehow managed to come up with a couple of iconic riffs through the years? I suppose. But there’s no getting around the fact the guy has a woefully limited ability behind the kit. His sound was about as flat and thin as a piece of loose leaf paper on the earlier records, then when Bob Rock fattened up the bottom end, it just became doorstop, paper weight sludge – groove-less, swing-less sludge. Listen to the utter nonsense he ass vomited on St. Anger – perhaps the worst drumming performance ever recorded.

If you enjoyed this list, check out some other great stuff on The Z Review

The Top Ten Greatest Rock Drumming Performances Ever Recorded

Ten Classic Songs You’ve Never Heard

The Top Ten Most Underrated Drummers Of All Time

The Day I First Met Slash From Guns N’ Roses

The Top Twenty Saddest Songs By Tom Waits

The Top Ten Most Overrated Albums Of All Time

Top Underrated Bands Of All Time

The 40 Saddest Songs Of All Time

Progressive Rock for Indie Rock Snobs: A Playlist

The Top Five Most Overrated Bands Of All Time

…And all the goodies in our Entertainment  and Features sections!

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About Author

I’m a writer/editor with a penchant for saddle shoes, pontification and fried pork rinds. Equal parts gadfly, cut-up, provocateur, philosopher, and silly-willy. My personal heroes include Reggie Jackson, Elvis Costello and Philip Roth.

226 Comments

  1. It seems that this list targets a large majority of great drummers that have mastered the art of falling down the stairs on purpose and landing on their feet. These drummers play total right brain drumming not systematic left brain drumming. Very much like Hendrix or Lifeson on guitar hitting crazy noises for emotional feel. They are doing it on purpose. Try to play what they play. It is often difficult to compose or grove what they are doing. Sure you can learn the part but most drummers play the parts sterile and canned. Just because you must be a more systematic drummer doesn’t mean that the beauty of creative, freestyle, right brained approach is not important. Different drummers, different approaches.

  2. It seems that this list targets a large majority of great drummers that have mastered the art of falling down the stairs on purpose and landing on their feet. These drummers play total right brain drumming not systematic left brain drumming. Very much like Hendrix or Lifeson on guitar hitting crazy noises for emotional feel. They are doing it on purpose. Try to play what they play. It is often difficult to compose or grove what they are doing. Sure you can learn the part but most drummers play the parts sterile and canned. Just because you must be a more systematic drummer doesn’t mean that the beauty of creative, freestyle, right brained approach is not important.

  3. I have seen Ginger Baker twice live just a few feet in front of his drum kit and he is just absolutely freaking tremendous. Those who knock him are just jealous.

  4. This is ridiculous. Matt Cameron is a versatile, thinking, time and phrase – oriented musician. His got his own sound and precision. He brings a steady groove and his signature to every song he plays.
    WDF??! Listen to the whole Superunknown album, it is a pure pleasure! His work is outstanding!
    Listen to PJ’s Binaural!!

    • Totally agree, to what I see this man likes the Glam Rock, and of course that when Grunge came up, Glam died, he never heard Badmotorfinger or the Superunknown album, he has no idea what he talks about Cameron.

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  6. I’ve always secretly thought about Gadd too – I’ve seen his workshops like 10 times in the last couple of decades and they are always the same. He was an innovator like 4 decades ago – but that time has come and gone.

    Dissing the entire wrecking crew is just trash editorial though – it’s almost like it was written with the pure intention of being inflammatory – which is the journalistic equivalent of click bait. Lame.

  7. Maybe give us your Top 10 drummers to demonstrate that you actually have a clue, then we can revisit this list.

  8. Chilena musician on

    Steve Coppeland sucks heavy… just search his performance with stanley clark, just look at the face expression and boringess of the rest of the band NOT enyoing at all playing with such a “Legend”

  9. Nobody thinks Ulrich is a good drummer. Everyone knows Steve Gadd is a great drummer. Bagging on Moon and Watts is stupid. “Paint It Black” is rickety? Cracker, please.

  10. Rufus Ketting on

    everyone’s entitled to their opinion except a writer, or so it seems. loved this eleborate think piece. plus your comments on ginger baker’s attempts to hit as many pots and pans per second is absolutely spot on! hahaha! thanks!

  11. I found your article refreshing …reminded me of my 14 year old,..knows everything WITH the attitude…I like your list and I feel similarly…BUT…if you find Reggie Jackson’s obnoxious vibrato(although he did deliver the goods) to be a hero-figure I would expect you not to REALLY like Ginger Baker….However, Steve Gadd and Hal Blaine do not belong mentioned. Keith Moon might not have seen light of day if not for the handholding of the great John Entwistle…I do seriously think you were going for “Attention of the Year” award on your cardboard cut-out site….and you forgot Travis Barker….

    • Sir, this is an excellent read.
      I’ll preface what’s below by saying, fundamentally, if you’re in a great band, you’re a great drummer – it’s just as much about the chemistry as it is the playing. And folk who don’t understand that have never been in a successful band. That said, I don’t think there’s an entry above that doesn’t have some truth in it. Ginger? Yep. Charlie? Yep. Matt Cameron? Yep.
      Most importantly, does anyone above/below remember what a sense of humour looks like? Honestly, you slag Gadd off and everyone’s up in your grill like you’ve just shagged their mothers.
      Bravo Reuben!

  12. Clive Copland on

    I think the author of this has missed the point of performance, technique and why people end up in the positions they do in the music business.

    • David Scally Jr on

      spot on that one! And don’t ever touch Sir Watts; I’m sorry you don’t poke at mobility, and no one (especially himself) has ever said he’s a great drummer – he’s great at what he does for the Stones.

    • I wouldn’t characterize Buddy Rich as a “rock” drummer, which I think is what he is limiting these to. If you go that way, you get into Max Roach, Gene Krupa, Billy Cobham, Elvin Jones, etc.

  13. Who are you? What makes you think your opinion is relevant? Why should I give a you-know-what what you think? What qualifies you to offer this opinion? I think you think more highly of yourself than you ought. Get over yourself.

  14. synthonaplinth on

    You are welcome to call Steve Gadd ‘overrated’ when you can play his drum solo on ‘Aja’ note for note.

    • Chilena musician on

      I have recorded a lot of drum solos that are simply impossible for any of this drummers to play note by note. But thasn’t mean I am not a shitty drummer

  15. “Based on my experience as a musician”…that’s funny. File “Reuben Levy” under another asshat, talentless dick who thinks he’s a better musician than everyone else but likely would be kicked out of an open mic night. You are a turd.

  16. The “Card board box … down the stairs comment” shows exactly your own ability to rip off other creatives. I read the original statement about John Bonham many years ago. The only change that you have made is to swap the ‘WARDROBE’ in the original for a card board box… come on now sort yourself out sir.

  17. Based on the cliché of an opening paragraph, I knew the rest would be a heaping pile of paradidles; all fluff no flam.
    I do commend your desire to prove your ability as a provocateur. We’ll done.

    BTW, all you Ringo bashers, take the following ten songs: I feel fine, Help, In my life, ticket to ride, getting better, hello goodbye, happiness…., come together, I dig a pony, tomorrow never knows, and come up with your drum track.
    See how that work’s out for ya.
    If you don’t like my suggestions you can pick your own. Most drummers experience a similar result: Silence. From both kit and mouth.

    Thanks again Reuben for the platform. And the sandwich too!

  18. Ajax Rasputin on

    This list could have just had Ginger Baker and Charlie Watts and it would have felt perfect. Ginger Baker is mediocre. Charlie Watts is just boring and lacks skill.

  19. Discouraging to see that the “hater” trend so common in other segments of society has found it’s way into the music scene. There’s so much talent to praise and review that it’s hard to explain this irrelevant piece of negativism and destructive behavior.

    • You’re correct. While I agree with some of the comments, but I don’t HATE on any of these guys. It’s a matter of taste and it’s subjective. However, what I really hate is mediocre local musicians who hate on successful ones with a snob-drenched “expert” attitude.

    • Chilena musician on

      They all suck at playing, period. FAME is a whole other things, and this people listed here ar expert at it

  20. Jon Schofield on

    Reuben! Congratulations! It worked. Lots of people got really upset. And saw YOUR NAME somewhere! Now, be a good boy and put your hand back where it was before.

    • I do think Questlove is way overrated, and I would have added Neil Peart to the list for “no feel or sense of groove”…putting Gadd on an overrated list is like putting Lincoln on a list of overrated Presidents…

      • Justin Goebel on

        Early in his career, yes. He was as stiff of a drummer as it got. He was a compositional drummer; he articulated every nuance of the backbeat. He reproduced said compositions on stage as you heard it on wax.

        In the mid 90’s, he hooked up with Freddie Gruber, as to learn how to “swing”. Even his drum solos begin to sound a bit different on a nightly basis.

        Even the best rock drummer in the biz could reinvent his style. Definitely not overrated. On par, yes.

        • Ok,Neil studied With Gruber,Erskine,changed the grip,etcetc…..but..SOUNDS the SAME:ROBOTIC,MECHANICAL,STIFF,NO GROOVE.”the best rock drummer”;NEVER.

  21. with the exception of Quest Love and Steve Gadd, I must admit the drumners on this list are precisely the exact same drumners that would have been on my list of The most famous UNTALENTED NON DRUMMING DRUMNERS. TO EVER PLAY THE INSTRUMENT. AS as why I would not have Steve Gadd or Quest Love on this list is because unlike the all of the non playing drumners on this list. Gadd proberly my all time favorite drumner. And those signiture groves of Gadds that this guy mentioned as being over rated are some the most powerful, musical, soul full feels ever laid down on wax. They are so good that that feel has been the bread and butter of countless great inspirational recordings over the last 40 years. As far as Quest Love goes all though I am not a huge fan of his drumming most professional musicians from Singer song written like John Mayer, Sting, Stevie Knicks, and Sting are. Because when ever those artist are Quest on The late night with Jimmy Fallon’s Show and they here that Quest Love is the Musical Director and Drumner on that show they usually leave there personal bands at home, when givin the choice of there band or Quest Love and the house band So there you have it.

    • i started drum lessons with Buddy Rich’s Rudiments book & progressed to Ted Reed, etc. i loved Steve Gadd’s drum books because he was one of the first groove lick cats. He comps some solid rudimental foundation syncopation but it’s uncle tom graveyard regurgitation of old school N.A.R.D. marching drum corp that we all should have down. .go ahead on Steve, you’re bad but unlike Jeff Porcaro & Vinnie you be draggin’ Holmes.

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  23. Nicely done, Mr Reuben Levy. You are a paid columnist with opinions (10 of them listed here) and you have expressed them at your level in a clickable, entertaining Internet article. Not everyone will agree with your opinions, of course, but that is part of the reason why you put them out there — to see how many comments you get back from equally opinionated readers. Some of the comments are quite nasty, and I would imagine that being a qualified Internet columnist these days requires a thick skin and a sense of humor.

    Although your article was entertaining, I found it easy to dismiss. As you can see from the comments you have received, virtually anybody these days can get online and spout off their opinions about who’s good, who sucks, who’s right, who’s wrong, and how unqualified bass players are to evaluate drummers.

    You see, Mr Levy, what separates a columnist like yourself from someone who is truly a journalist is that journalists will research a set of criteria against which they write their material. The end result is that true journalists come up with articles that are not only at their base level entertaining, but also educational and enriching for the people who read them.

    So again, Mr Levy, thank you for the few moments of entertainment. Good job. Nicely done.

    • Chilena musician on

      all your shit to say nothing, Still the author is right. All this drummer are highly overrated, are a shame as musicians, and are more kind to play the game of fame and rock stars rather than work their playing to be some how near to professionals.

      I am a producer, and, even if they would come for free, I would never call any of this fake drummers to play in any of my projects.

      However if my project were about making money, being on Mass media or to pose like a rock star certainly this the right list of “musicians” to call

  24. Good list, and all so very true.

    A few clowns in here hooked on nostalgic old , dust collecting, rock music making fools of themselves and abilities by praising false idols.

    Nobody on this list is an exceptionally drummer. Where on earth have you been if you think some 60s or 70s icon can match the skill of a contemporary drummer?

    “nature’s D students of music” – a quote by a non conservatory musician idiot, rest assured….seemingly the kind making up the entirety of these responses

    • Chilena musician on

      you are right. You can notice how far are all this people from professional music making

      Non descent producer would contract any of this drummer today to record an Album

  25. Your list only proves to me that the old saying is true, opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one, and they all stink. You list make me think that you are an idiot with no taste. I wish you ill.

    • A) you need to wipe your ass better.
      B) you’ve got to be a fucking retard to wish someone ill over an opinion

  26. Great thread. All you need to evaluate drummers is two ears. It grooves or not. Not a Who fan but I like Pete townshend’s comment : Keith moon is the greatest Who type drummer in the world. PS purdiie shuffle grooves.

  27. What an absolutely envious, bitter man you must be. These are ALL absolutely first-rate drummers. And for the Wrecking Crew, this team wrote and played on countless hits. How many have YOU played on, Mr. Levy? None?? Are there better drummers, sure. But every single one of these drummers is top-notch — even Tappy McTapperston (which I DID find funny).

  28. Steve Gadd shouldn’t be on the list.I suggest the author listen to Gadd in Chick Corea’s LEPRECHAUN album. Buddy Rich mentioned him as one of the best drummers he had heard. I’m with Buddy on this one.

    • Steve Gadd is amazing. Leprichan is a great album all around. The groove for 50 Ways is genius. Go check out any track from Chuck Mangione’s Alive album. It’s groove city with Gadd….and the drum solo is jaw dropping. I can’t see how he could ever be over rated

    • Yeah, no shit. Gadd is a very very high level musician and is regarded by so many from Eric Clapton,
      to Paul Simon, Chick Corea(the list is immense) as truly extraordinary.My self being a drummer on the NYC scene for more than 25 yrs am friends w/ many people he worked with. This guy was and is a giant in the music industry . To spew a bunch of nonsensical banter only shows your ignorance and lack of really whats up. (Though I do agree with you on a few of your picks) I’m sure Will lee would have a few words to say about this but as a bass player maybe you thinks he sucks to. LOL

  29. REUBEN LEVY … If you ever had anything with music,one note,one rhythm,one tune,you could not put Steve God,Ginger Baker,Keith Moon and Charlie Watts on a list of overrated drummers. This cheap trick of getting attention and focus on your self is sign of very disturbed personality. Also fact that you are journalist writing about music,tells us that you have very poor life and career. You should stop writing at all and stop receiving money for that job,because it is very disgracefully to live and exist on planet in such a manner. Good thing to do would be to apply in to mental hospital and explain that you are untalented,deeply dissatisfied,disturbed,unemployed quasi journalist,who is trying to satisfy his sexual and social needs by trying to dishonor one of the most influential musicians and persons of last century. Actually you are trying to dishonor people which had made something of their lives,which also had influence on so many musicians in a good way(education). So thank you for breaking up my boring afternoon,hope to never read anything from you,and all other bla bla bla….

    • That’s easy, look who isn’t on the list, and there’s your best of…

      Bernard Purdie
      Buddy Rich
      Dave Grohl
      Gene Krupa
      Ginger Baker
      John Bonham
      Mitch Mitchell
      Neil Peart
      Nick Mason

  30. Did somebody get paid to write this crap? And why isn’t Gene Krupa on the list? And quit trashing my friend Ginger. He’s sensitive to things like this.

  31. While none of these really bug me all that much, even though some of my big influences are there. My take on the whole thing is these over zealous drummers out there are worse than music critics out there and, they suck the life out of everything inspirational. Always some drummer self proclaimed perfect player that no one has heard of. Being that none on this list are unsuccessful….maybe we should re-evaluate what is perfect. Even though no one in their right mind would bag on some of these guys….I’m sure this is just a “get everyone debating” post, It brings up the age old….unsuccessful drummer bagging on someone that found stuff that works that cant be measured with precise, outdated “drumming standards” that our great grand parents lived by. And if you are playing to impress musicians….that is impossible! They will hold you to the strictest of standards that they are unable to pull off themselves. By those standards….drum machines have perfect time and consistency…but I don’t see those revered in the drumming community. Most of their drum teachers never taught transfer of emotion and music that “The average Joe” get and feels. Just regurgitated books from the 40’s and 50’s. Everything moves forward and innovates…..get with the program….success shows you what works and what doesn’t….not your personal opinion of how you feel it should be.

  32. The problem here is that Mr. Levy has no credibility nor authority to make these statements. For one, he is not a famous player or well known published music critic, is he ? Not that i know of. Furthermore, at best, his rantings are only subjective opinions, which i would liken to a whiny, disgruntled child who was told by his parents that he couldn’t have that candy bar he so desperately wanted in the stationary store. To me, his critiques of the drummers he lists are baseless. Case in point: Baker was one of the first, if not the first, to use double bass drumming in a rock/blues band. Next up – Charlie Watts …… a drummer with a very unique style and sound, who played just behind the beat like no other drummer before or since.Granted, Charlie really only knows a few grooves, and plays them on every song, be they faster or slower. But he’s the only drummer in the world that can give that signature sound and feel to the Rolling Stones. That’s what made them famous and extremely wealthy. As for Gadd, to say he is overrated is pure sacrilege. The man is a genius, pure and simple. Hal Blaine is a true master of the drums and has played on hundreds of hit songs including numerous # 1 hits. Max Weinberg falls into the Charlie Watts category, but Max is one of the most super solid players of all time, and has given Bruce that awesome backbone on which to build his most amazing tunes. Moon was a wild man with a style so unique it cannot and never will be duplicated. If one listens carefully to the WHO songs he’s on, you will hear some really amazing things going on, such as crashes in places that you would think don’t make sense, but do in such a way that give the songs there flavor and uniqueness. He was a somewhat busy drummer, but busy in a way that fit perfectly with what Townsend, Daltrey, and Entwistle were doing. Overrated, Never ! As for the rest of the drummers on the list such as Lee, Cameron, Ulrich and Questlove……..i will say that they are perfect for what they do and who they do it with. I personally can’t really comment on them as much because i don’t listen to them like i have done the others. But i am aware of their respective accomplishments and will surely rebut any wrong notions that Mr. Levy has concerning them and their playing. As for me, i am a drummer who has play semi professionally for 40 years. I have been afforded wonderful opportunities to play with other famous and well known musicians, and can call some of them friends. I studied with one of the greatest session men of all time(Gary Chester – and if you don’t know who he was, look him up on any search engine and you’ll find out who he was and what his contributions to the music industry were). I have recorded on hundreds of tracks myself, although none were ever hits due to circumstance beyond my control, but they sure could have been. Furthermore, i am also a songwriter and audio engineer, as well as a decent bass player when necessary. Finally, i am also a music industry historical researcher, and one that is especially interested in drummers and their accomplishments. I listen to music of all kinds and have a great ear that is attuned to all the different aspects of music and it’s sound and performance. So i think i know what i’m talking about. Please pay little mind to the author as he can only state his opinion and not fact ! Good day !

  33. Scott Peterson on

    This guy is on heavy meds or just a Twit. When you Google an ‘author/critic’ and there’s not a word about him, I smelleth a rat. No education, publication proof, just his own comments about himself and he’s a bass playing ex-drummer who ” knows a thing or two?” About what? I’ve done everything he writes about in his lead in ( I’ve played 40 years all over again the USA, the Caribbean, U.K. And have a degree in journalism). No, my writings are not on Google either as I ended up writing for a union magazine. Good, steady money. But, I play drums to this day. I think he’s lost his cookies. While some of these are not my faves, many were innovators. Ex Baker. Those were a lot of African polyrhythms, not Jazz. He was a Jazz aficionado but not a jazz player. Watts was. Baker is now a bitter old man but in his heyday, he influenced thousands. This guy whines about lack of fills, not enough “feel” or “pocket drumming” then attacks Weinberg & Watts who are famous for it. WTH? Can you imagine The Who w/o Moon? No disrespect to him as I like him, but how’d they sound with Kenny Jones? Blaine and Gadd? Really? Blaine could read a ” squadron of fly shit on blank white paper,” followed direction and played what he was told; uncredited for 40 years. Gadd? I’ll end my rant with his famous quote, ” it’s the fills that bring the thrills but it’s the groove that pays the bills.” This ‘author’ doesn’t seem to have any clue as to what he wants or what some of these drummers brought, individually, to their band (s). Does he have any clue how many gold & platinum albums he just disee? He’s a writing reality show just trying to stir people up with poor sophomoric humor and inflammatory comments. The coup de gras is his ‘About the Author’ written in the first person. Jeez. Thanks for listening, I feel better.

  34. You got it right on all count’s. Now do a most UNDERRATED drummer’s of all time. You can start with Mick Avory of The KinK’s!

  35. Alejandro Di Mare on

    I cut myself with all the edge from this article…

    Hey mommy! Look at how controversial I am by saying Steve Gadd sucks! Look at all the views I’m going to get from people who actually know about drumming reading my article and sharing it with other musicians so they can also get annoyed by how much of an idiot I am!

  36. Here’s a Lou Reed joke. What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians? The Drummer.

    But in actuality, all these things are so subjective.

    The article is just someone’s opinion…

  37. Brian grantham on

    This pick has mental issues yes you I mean you you have never been a player drums or bass you yes you there is no groove in you go and wright some cooking menu.

  38. Dont ever let a wanna be drummer slash bass player write about other drummers. All drummers up there have one thing in common: They are special and rightfully so loved drummers for one thing or another! That is something that this critic Moran will never achieve nor begin to understand. Overrated my ass, who cares!

  39. The bloke who wrote this is a journalist and drummer, I could hardly think of a worse combination.. maybe airline pilot/ drummer or brain surgeon/drummer would be combo’s made in hell…. Let’s be honest, he wrote this article purely in order to get online readers and to court controversy with a view to getting more writing assignments.

    Tommy Lee for example is the perfect Hard Rock drummer who has groove, power and showmanship not to mention killer drum sound, heard on most of the later albums, Dr Feelgood and Kickstart My Heart are prime examples of great feel and an understanding of what suits the song.

    I wager that the journalist was more pissed off at Tommy’s looks and notorious sex life than he was at his actual drumming. As Dave Lee Roth once said, ” Music journalists that hate Van Helen and love Elvis Costello, always look like Elvis Costello…”

  40. FUCK YOU WHOEVER WROTE THIS! Fucking over smart idiot with no music in soul. Dont press your opinions. Asshole

  41. This list proves you have no idea on what the job of a drummer actually is. I don’t expect you have heard a lot of The Roots, but Questlove has one of the finest grooves I have ever heard. But of course, if there isn’t a dope ass cool rad lick every fifteen seconds you’re bored. Appreciating a fine groove is one of the best things I know as a drummer myself. The fact that Questlove, Steve Gadd and Max Weinberg are on this list is a travesty. However, I think this is your way of getting back at musicians that are way way more accomplished than yourself. Quite sad actually.

  42. I believe that drummers, if they have played adequately for a while, have way more action going onnin p[arts of their brains that no other people do. We analyse other drummers from mathematically dorky high expectations, usually don’t get along wit each other, are the typewriter user in a texting world of acoustic drums verse drum machines. Max Weinberg, see, any non-drummer is going to repeatedly think what a phenomenal showy poppy great drummer… Keith Moon? It wasn’t his sound, however, he could do tricks with his sticks as he played etc. that hasn’t ever been surpassed, he doesn’t belong on this list, either. Matt Cameron is the art of subtlety, quit power is the vibe fromhim, really. Tommy Lee was taking songs and confidently doing little tricks where a bass and cymbal combo hit would’ve been there with ANY other drummer, he was doing engineering theory on drums, then that played into his stage shows later, with rotating kits. Charlie Watts is at a disadvantage as Keith Richards is the rhyhm guitarist of Stones and he has to follow his tempo, everything revolves around Keith there and the time and lack of opportunity for more solid drum fills… most of the other drummers I forgot about already, so AGREED there… Lars gives us drummers such bad names, he sucks at drums too but he’s just a little bit smarter than any other drummer hence Metallica, is a band you’ve heard of… only because of Lars brilliance (not at drums though.). I’ll leave a yootoob with my drumming, thopugh commisioned, to qualify my retort to this thought provocing piece I did enjoy reading and then was inspired to bother commenting on! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjU_J9Ejg80&list=PLXISpWApKUolouM0ZOG1f0-knBvT5oU53

  43. You just have it wrong on Gadd, Ginger Baker and Watts. Feel trumps everything else and all 3 of them kill at that. Hell even Lars with his limited chops has the right feel for Hetfields riffs and it just “works”
    Stupid way of looking at it because Feel and Chemistry is what it’s all about with a drummer.

  44. I agree with this list for the most part. In my opinion, (are you ready to see everyone lose there fucking minds, which is rediculous in its own right) the number 1 most overrated drummer in the world. Ringo Starr.

  45. I would suggest stick to the bass and stfu. Please share some links to the bands you have played in so we can see how good you are mate. What a fucking tool.

  46. angela levey on

    Most drummers bore me so much I tune it out bang bang bang,l Having been married to the naturall;y swinginest one and the most underated,I know when you feel it’s authentic and real, there’;s nothing like it. Best of luck to all the almost good

  47. This is a column written by a drummer for drummers. Charlie Watts is a player who has an emotional connection to the music. Of course he’s not a chops guy. I’d rather listen to someone who plays to feature the band and not himself. A pointless and dumb article.

  48. Paul O'Donoghue on

    # 11 Ringo Starr – WTF IEven as a child I could tell he was really average. Now, as a 50 yo I really haven’t changed my opinion. and that is all it is, My opinion.

  49. The thing that ALWAYS gets me about these best/worst/overrated/underrated lists is this: music is not really that measurable, and neither are musicians. Music is such a subjective experience; everybody has an audience that thinks they’re great, and who is anyone to say they’re not? Obviously, there are levels of skill, but it ultimately comes down to the audio experience that the listener has.

  50. The list is dubious at best, and I do not agree with many on the list—but Lars Ulrich really does suck….

  51. Larry Copcar on

    I didn’t agree with ever word, but this is funny as shit. I wish he nailed a few more. Like Neil Pert.

  52. Everyone has an opinion! Loving drumming as much as sports i always love the argument well who is the best? Being from NE Tom Brady. Is the best QB to ever play in the NFL right! To me time plays such a large part. I prefer to just appreciate each athlete, performer, musician for who they are and for their hard work, efforts and accomplishments.

  53. Tommy Lee, Charlie Watts, and Lars Ulrich maybe should be on the list. I would probably add Dingo. There is no way that Steve Gadd should be on there! He paved a new path for drummers to come. Can play many styles of music. Changed the whole world of drumming! Matt Cameron doesn’t get the credit that he deserves. Matt has finesse that many can only dream of! He could be a great jazz drummer. Ginger Baker? Are you serious? He can play multiple styles himself! Excellent, excellent drummer! One of the top ten best drummers of all time!

  54. My Google searches “reuben levy,” “reuben levy music,” and “reuben levy musician” returned nothing that would suggest that named person is qualified as a percussionist critic, despite his beitzim to voice all negative opinions. I wonder what he thinks of George Carey. Anyone know my landsman’s expertise in this area?

  55. Most of these guys are only famous because of the bands they were in. Gadd was at least fresh & some what innovative when he hit the scene in the ’70s. Gadd could also play. Blaine could more or less play but, his reading, in fact, was rather poor. It’s why he didn’t get called for a lot of sound track dates. Baker was just a putz & the description is pretty much dead on. Watts & Moon were just very lucky they found bands that didn’t fire them. Six out of ten of these guys are all about context & are barely mentionable as actual drummers.

    And Charlie Boy, you might love jazz but, you can’t PLAY a note of it. And neither can your friend, Mr. Baker.

    “At least that’s my opinion. I could be wrong.”

  56. Sixteen ‘I’s or ‘my’s in the first paragraph says it all. To knock Hal, Steve, Charlie and Max is your right, but it just makes you look totally naive, stupid and ignorant. And you have brought the worms out of the woodwork, the Ringo knockers, haters and enviers. Ringo was never the best drummer, but he will always be THE GREATEST!

  57. Really? How do you fairly and objectively rate an artist to begin with? I have never seen any of these artists rated anywhere before so how can they be over rated?

  58. Josef Blough on

    Moon, over rated? Obviously some commenting here, including the author of this hack piece, are new to music. In fact, about the only one they got right is Ulrich. Moon is by far one of the best ever to play drums with a style that will never be duplicated.

  59. Wally Cochran on

    You couldn’t lick the ball sweat from Gadd’s or Mooney’s nut sacks. You have a point with the others, but you must’ve thrown those two in fir shock value. Gadd could fart tonal triplets and sell gold, you moron!

  60. I disagree with your entire list. Exactly what reference point are you coming from? If you’re under 30 I may forgive you: I’d be curious to see who is in your top 10 best drummers, because everyone on this list innovated the instrument in someway shape or form…and how many of them have you witnessed playing live?

  61. What sad ramblings from a illiterate who wished had any musical chops. Those who can play and have careers, those who can’t write lame ass blogs

  62. I am a guitar player. I have played with over 20 drummers over the years. Two of the drummers I have played with are on records that have sold over 5 million copies. One of the drummers is in the Rock and Hall Of Fame. One used to write for Modern Drummer.

    When someone asks me what I think makes a good drummer my answer is always the same.

    When I see a band live, or hear a recording, and I DON’T notice the drummer.

    Then I consider them a good drummer. How many drummers can do that? Not many. I am talking about bands with songs, and a singer. Watts, Ringo, Liberty DeVitto and Max can all do this.

    Why do you think only a handful of drummers get most of the session work. Listen to Matt Chamberlain on the track One Headlight from The Wallflowers. Zero crashes.

    Why do you think when a band gets signed the drummer is always the first one to get replaced.

    How many times will I have to hear a drummer tell me that he thinks his cymbals are not loud enough???? How many times have I come out of a concert, and said to myself “boy that band was great but you know I wish the cymbals would have been a little louder.” NEVER

    Drummers need to get over themselves, and learn how to play, and blend themselves in with a band. It’s ridiculous trying to enjoy a band when the drummer is bashing the shit out of everything.

    I see about 150 bands a year, and I can tell you 97% of the drummers are not listening to the band.

    • Josef Blough on

      Your not noticing the drummer philosophy is flawed. Not noticing the drummer is a double edged sword. If you notice the drummer it means one of two things. They either sucked or.. they stood out because of their above average ability and style. Get it right.

      • Typical guitar player rhetoric. Sorry, Eddie VanHalen, without the drummers you abhor, you wouldn’t have the pedestal on which you place your six string self-adoration.

  63. Claude Bessette on

    OMG! Baker, Cameron, Gadd, Watts and Moon!!! A new drug is on the street, and your high on it! Baker and Moon were magicians, you can learn all the technics you want, you’ll never have the feel they had. It’s the same with Watts, you can’t replace him, it would sound like shit! Cameron is an amazing drummer, underrated too. Gadd is the guy living legends wants to have behind the drum set. You say you are a philosopher, well, i can tell you this, philosophers have arguments that are very hard to put down, you arguments are opinions, which is equal to a bag full of shit.

  64. Lars, definitely. But Tommy Lee? I refer you to Motley Crue’s criminally overlooked self-titled album, which has the best playing he ever laid to tape. Dude might fuck everything that walks, but he’s got mad chops.

  65. I do agree with some of these comments however there is a problem if you make everything perfect songs sound unnatural and somehow sterile computer like sounds sometimes it’s good to have imperfection. For example I think Lars is an absolute shite drummer but for Metallica he’s brilliant the sound feeds the band I do agree that st anger is pants though.

  66. Give us a list of underrated drummers. Who is not getting the attention they deserve? We’ve already heard of most of these guys and it’s only human nature that we desire they be taken down a notch or two; what’s the fun in that?

  67. William Palmer on

    Alright stop it NOW!!!….this author is/was a bass player…yes a bass player….nature’s D-student of the music world, is telling US drummers who’s on his shit list?!….unfounded rantings of a bitter man who “paid his dues” with one failed release. His profile (of himself) is a litany of self proposed genius adjectives that describe nothing. Fail of Epic proportions. #momsbasement…

  68. Betty Spinks on

    They’re just drummers. You’re mad at the praise they receive. Which is like saying you don’t like a party because everyone’s having a good time, so you stand outside the window and yell “This party is overrated!”

  69. Well some points for sure. Ginger and moon. ? Sorry both are rock legends. The Who are all about power and energy. Ginger established African beats in a blues rock power trio. That is in itself an accomplishment

  70. this is what you get when (what I assume is) a failed musician decides to vent his frustration and flex his dick by decrying accomplished musicians. Maybe the writer should focus on writing something that millions of people will cherish that will out live him, instead of talking shit, that anyone with a pulse can do really.

    • Max played on the album born to run… boom boom carter played on the song… the only track he played on.

  71. Hank'the hack'spevak on

    Wannaknowhowtaplaydrums? Inagoddadavida. Hey all you drummers rock, roll, and rule! What’s he doing in my world?

  72. The author sounds like a hipster. Hipsters simply don’t understand anything about music…a hipster’s opinion is like a fart in a greenhouse…

  73. Where’s Neil Peart? He is by far the most overrated drummer of all time. No space. All fills. Makes 14 year old mids think a drummers job is to overplay ALL THE TIME!…

    • Are you kidding me! Neil Peart overrated? I suppose you think Meg White from the White Stripes is underrated

        • Bruce Van De Griek on

          Ringo was the perfect drummer for the Beatles… i havent heard one drummer play a Beatles song the way Ringo did… I respect your opinion though. Im a huge Beatles fan, and theyre the reason i started singing, and playing drums….

    • Josef Blough on

      Neal Peart.. over rated?? LMFAO!! He’s the greatest drummer in the world alive today. Hang in there junior, puberty doesn’t last forever. smh

    • Wayne Duncan on

      No doubt, as a 14vyrsr old, I OVERPLAYED EVERYTHING! Ridiculousness! However, he (Peart) has had a HUGE impact on, so many druumners! The fill work, the odd time signatures, tasteful approaches, to grooves! Hell, even the sound if his drums, was an influence! It does bear to mention, though. When I was of the age, of easy impression, if a drummer wasn’t playing double bass and 10 toms, nievely, I would think (thanks o Neil) “this doesn’t mean business!” Quite the contrary. Later I dicovere Drummers who played CIRCLES around Neil, with even, less drums! Still, he was a FORCE TO BE WRECKONED WITH!

  74. sure everyone has an opinion…but last time I looked….the author was NOT in the WHO.METALLICA…PLAYED WITH ANY OF THE FOLKS MR GADD HAS ..WAS IN CREAM ETC ETC…NOT TO MENTION THE STONES.So I would say ….concentrate on something positive…..obviously written by someone who cant or has failed at their own attempt to play drums…it snt about being a rockstar anyways….remember fun?…just my humble opinion…

  75. The author has quite a bag of adjectives, though he forgets one thing, which is the time period some of these aggressor personalities came out of, especially the old guys. Charlie Watts comes to mind first. He was old when the Stones arrived, but for that time he was the most rock solid drummer to pound skins, raising the bar substantially. As he grew ever older his card stayed with him, though in present times, and for some time, his rock solid way can be demarked with the arrival of PA Systems, a Drummer no longer had to slam their brains out to be heard, and he lightened up equivalently.

    Kieth Moon was busier than anyone on his arrival, filling in the empty space, where The Who were actually the first power trio, marking the end of the rhythem guitarist.

    Ginger Baker was the other old guy who spent years perfecting the quintessential rock drum solo every other drummer wished they were old enough to have that head start, at that time.

    To be fair and honest, all musicians must be measured against the time of their appearance in the public view, and their peers of that time, and what was being done at that time, as rock music became more sophisticated.

    Therewith, the authors assessment is not as unfair as it otherwise would be.

      • Marc Weinstein on

        No Kidding, Jack !!! This guy is C-L-U-E-LE-S-S as to what makes a great musician/drummer. . . .really sad that he thinks he can write this garbage for all to see….ha ha ha ha HAHAHA

      • CalypsoJimmy on

        This is a nice concise list of my alright favorite drummers…excluding other genres Alla Rakha, Max Roach, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, etc. This list says way more about the list maker than it does about players the list. Keith Moon Charlie Watts Ginger Baker… C’mon!!! These guys defines life. Go buy a digital drum stick.

    • Josef Blough on

      Ummm… music is the universal language. With said, it has no time. Good music, as well as good musicians (including drummers) have no era in the purest sense. Good music, and drummers, are that way regardless of time, era. Your point is moot.

  76. I wouldn’t touch the iconic drummers like Moon, Watts, Ginger etc.
    Also, I would advise you to check Gadd’s discography before you will include him in this list.
    I wonder why you are riding this?
    Also, why I am reading your riding, that’s the question.
    Well, my bed…….

    • Nodar!! You did the bearing edges on my Ludwigs when you were in Manhattan! They never sounded better!! Thanks & I hope all is well.

  77. Ginger Baker, super underrated though. For that matter, Clapton underrated guitarist. It’s socially polite to slag those guys. The tradition of underestimating Cream was started a long time ago by the farting pundits at Rolling Stone magazine.

    • To suggest Baker is an underrated musician in the same vein as Clapton is underrated? Laughable, but in my opinion and this is all about opinion after all. How is Eric underrated? Baker was decent, good innovative in his time. Eric Clapton is one of the most tasty guitarists there is. He knows how to breathe, how to NOT play. Baker was a rhythmic speed induced repetitive time keeper who managed to keep Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton together. But bottom line, yea this whole thread is stupid.

  78. I don’t agree on your criteria for rating Max Weinberg. E Street musicians are “hired” by Bruce and thus controlled by Bruce. Your description “His samey same, snare-heavy four on the floor” is what Bruce wants so that’s what he gets. Because Springsteen has such a huge body of work, Max will give you this style the “first million times we heard it” and most likely as long as they tour – which was hugely successful and Max is as dependable and capable of keeping up 43+ years with Springsteen. “A musician is supposed to stretch, try new feels, riffs and approaches” – not if The Boss doesn’t ask for them and it’s commonly known why Bruce is called “The Boss”. “Max has been stuck in the same groove since Born to Run” and what a spectacular groove to be stuck in. “Yet, he’s regarded as one of rock’s greatest of all time” – at least for my generation that isn’t more true – and I love peanut butter sandwiches – how long have they been around? Mighty Max rules !

    • You’re obviously so funky that you had to get out of the business and smack talk

      Do the world a favor and put out your next release so we can all hear how it’s supposed to be played. I’m sure it’ll be amazing not sounding like any of these guys!

      • Exactly. This guy is probably a washed up drummer that gave up and has to slam other people he thinks he’s better than.

    • You are correct. If the drummer changed the pocket on a “warhorse” hit tune, he’d be giving everybody the wrong thing. The last thing you want to do is stretch out and screw it up. That’s not the product. The MD knows what he wants.

  79. When I started reading this I thought that I might agree with some of the guys on the list; I actually agree with the author on all of them. The author did a good job detailing why he felt the way he does and I agree with his points.

        • That guys not overrated, ask everyone, they’ll tell you he’s not…contradiction much? Obviously if someone is overrated, a lot of people will tell you they aren’t. Kinda goes with the territory.

    • Agreed 100% this guy hit the nail on the head. I feel Gadd maybe shouldn’t be in this list, but I haven’t heard enough of him to decide. Otherwise, he took the words right out of my mouth.

    • Including Gadd steals any creditably from this post and hints at trolling. Arguably the best drummer of his generation.

    • Steve Gadd deserves all the great accolades he’s gotten. It is a shame that this author hasn’t the ability to appreciate some real brilliant playing. It doesn’t surprise me after reading his profile at the end of his trite article. I don’t believe he is even a musician.

    • STEVE GADD?????????????????????????????????????,SOMEBODY IS TWISTEDLY TRIPPIN ABOUT STEVE GADD BEING OVERRATED,ASK THE MUSICIANS HE HAS PLAYED WITH IS HE OVERRATED….

      • “Overrated” means a lot of people claim you are the best but in reality you are not the best but simply average or perhaps even above average but in no way the best. So asking other people if a drummer is the “best” and having them agree would, in a way, prove they are overrated.

  80. I definitely agree with you on Keith Moon; totally overrated and annoying. Some of these other guys just got wildly popular for the bands they were in, or for other projects they were involved with, but Lars is just terrible. I actually think he started out bad, got decent for a while, and then got really bad again.

    • Except for Ulrich, this asshat has not a clue of what he is talking about. Unless this is just a joke, or trying to spark heated responses. If that’s the case, I guess the joke is on me.

    • Evidience of Moon’s greatness is what the band sounded like with other drummers. not so great. Moon’s greatness was his unique style which added a whole other dimension to their sound. Nobody can come close to duplitcating his playing.

    • Jack Turchin on

      I cannot believe you put Steve Gadd and Hal Blaine on this list…SO wrong!! Gadd is one of the best ever and so is Blaine.

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