Originally Posted by D
I was trying like hell to remember that name and couldn't to save my life. Thanks.
The Bonhams are also up there.
Jason Bonham is fairly ludicrous.
Chad Sexton- effortless doesn't even begin to describe this guy. I can confidently say without a doubt that no other drummer has ever come close to the cleanliness of execution that Chad Sexton achieves. He is definitely someone that you have to be a drummer to totally appreciate; he's not flashy and crazy, and thus the average person wouldn't appreciate one of his solos nearly as much as a drummer would. Did I mention that he scripts 3 beats into each live solo, but other than that everything in between is completely improv?
Neil Peart- perhaps the most progressive drummer of all time. He has an uncanny to blend every genre of drumming into any song he's playing, and the man writes a hell of a solo.
Buddy Rich-cliche, but in the timeframe in which he performed, his style was unheard of and still a ton of fun to watch.
Tony Williams- one of the most influential jazz drummers of the 20th century. Check out some of Miles Davis' early stuff if you'd like to hear some of him.
Dave Weckl- hell of a drummer, but more importantly had a HUGE impact on the fusion scene back in the day, and really helped create some of the beats that define fusion drumming to an extent. I also play his sticks, so I'm inclined to like the dude's playing.
Steve Smith- my favorite fusion drummer period. extremely versatile, but what I really like about him is his ability and desire to jam; he loves to hop up on stage and just jam through a solo with another musician. I.E. http://youtube.com/watch?v=HFbyJuDuccc&feature=related
(not his most technical, but it's a helluvalot of fun to watch).
Billy Cobham- one of Miles Davis' original drummers and he's played with just about everyone by now. He's one of the most highly revered drummers of the last 40 years or so, and even as old as he is now, the dude can absolutely wail
Tony Royster- the original kid prodigy. He is absolutely amazing; I remember being 13 or so watching a video this kid was on when he was 11 or so and being absolutely blown away. The things he accomplished as a kid were greater than most good drummers accomplish in their entire lifetimes. Haven't heard any of his stuff now that he's older, but I've got to assume he's only gotten better.
Stewart Copeland- one of the most innovative drummers of all time. I've never heard anyone that plays like he does, and he has an all encompassing knowledge of music, not just drumming. He's the drummer for the Police, and while most people don't know who he is, you would notice his style missing from their music if they were to produce an album without him. He really does make their sound. Listen to the Zenyatta Mendatta album if you want to hear what I'm talking about.
and to round it out,
Keith Moon- no one is or was as excited, as spontaneous, as ludicrously out of control, and has Keith Moon was, and I don't think we'll see something like him ever again. He was out of control, played wrong by most standards, and had no pattern by which he followed (other than having no pattern), and yet it made for some great music. He was the single most energetic drummer to play. I mean, jesus christ, the dude made himself pass out on stage during solos on occasion. Did I mentione he was insane?
I think what you'll see out of my list (which is probably very different from most lists) is a complete understanding of music, not just drumming. Everyone listed up hear incorporates(ed) music into their drumming, not drumming into their music, which is why they're so special. It's also why most people overlook them as simply very good and not the best, but that's to be expected. Most people just don't understand music to the level that these guys all do, and that's what makes them the best.
In short, the knowledge that Music>Drumming and the ability to apply that knowledge is what seperates the good drummers from the great.