Rock music continues to maintain its position as a musical genre led by high energy, distorted guitars and powerful percussion. Classic rock band members are some of the pioneers of rock percussion who set the pace and excitement to the rock music experience both on stage and in the studio.
There are several super talents who carried the beat of some of the greatest bands of all time in the classic rock era. Here are 13 of the best classic rock drummers who established themselves as rock legends.
13. Steve Smith
Journey catapulted to the top of rock and pop charts upon their emergence on the rock music scene. Steve Smith shined as a drummer who specialized in up-tempo rhythms blending rock and blues drumming. Smith is a master of driving a track with the progression of the beat on songs like "Lovin' You Is Easy."
12. Phil Collins
Phil Collins gained recognition as the drummer for the rock group, Genesis. He soon received accolades for his dual talents of playing drums and singing at the same time. As a percussionist, Collins dominated on the pop-rock music scene specializing in mid-tempo grooves on tracks like "Abacab."
11. Carl Palmer
Emerson, Lake and Palmer emerged as a supergroup with Carl Palmer at the helm as the lead drummer. Palmer's percussive style and showmanship came from his roots as a jazz, rock and blues drummer. He fused elements of these unique musical rhythms to create the ELP signature groove on hits like "Lucky Man."
10. Ginger Baker
Cream fused blues and psychedelic rock in a way that set the band apart during the classic rock era. Ginger Baker brought his style of playing jazz percussion while using double bass drums to create a unique sound on "Strange Brew" and other hits. Baker dominated on long drum solos during live shows creating the foundation for rock overdrive on guitar riffs. Baker drove the tracks like a freight train on his drum set.
Fleetwood Mac is a unique act of the classic rock era. Mick Fleetwood is the founding drummer for the classic rock supergroup. As a percussionist, he gained respect among fans and peers for his ability to keep a perfect beat with his kick drum live in concert. His rocking style led the way for multiple hits for the band like "Go Your Own Way" and other top tracks.
The Police is known as one of the era's successful acts that met with crossover appeal with "Synchronicity" and other top tracks. Stewart Copeland delivered syncopated beats on his drum kit blending Middle Eastern, rock and reggae rhythms to create the specialized sound of the supergroup. Copeland also wrote and composed many of the band's initial track releases.
7. John Bonham
Led Zeppelin entered the rock scene as a hard rock band that blended rock and blues in a unique way on hits like "Rock and Roll." John Bonham led the band's percussive sound as a speed drummer who hit hard while establishing the groove. Bonham helped to drive their rock and blues sound. Bonham mastered the technique of playing drums with both drumsticks as well as playing with his hands on his drum kit to the delight of fans.
6. Ringo Starr
The Beatles are considered pioneers of the rock music era. From the UK to the USA, Ringo Starr led the way of the British rock invasion playing with a right-handed kit as a left-handed drummer. In addition, Starr participated as a songwriter with his bandmates. As a drummer, Starr evolved a rock-pop sound to speed drumming rocking it out on "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and other hits.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience arrived on the rock scene with the gifted talents of Mitch Mitchell leading the beat. Mitchell fused his jazz influences with rock to manifest a new fast-paced rock rhythm that supported Hendrix' amplified improvisations on guitar. Mitchell became known as a high energy drummer that played complex rhythms that helped make the band's tracks truly signature like "Purple Haze."
4. Joey Kramer
Aerosmith arrived on the rock scene like a comet landing on the Boston rock music circuit. The band's power drummer, Joey Kramer, is the original percussionist of the band which has maintained its original roster similar to the Rolling Stones. Kramer blends rock and blues percussion to create his signature sound. Kramer is known for power drum rolls that he rolls out on the bridge of the band's hot tracks like "Back in the Saddle."
3. Keith Moon
The Who came out of the stratosphere as one of the UK's top acts emerging on the hard rock scene. Keith Moon took rock music to new heights with his high energy, frenzied style of drumming epitomizing his genius as a performer. Moon would delight fans with the gimmick of destroying his drum set at the end of performing a song like their hit, "Who Are You?."
2. Neil Peart
Rush arrived on the rock scene with a multi-talented percussionist, Neil Peart. As a drummer, Peart pulled from his influences of jazz, rock and swing percussion to create the signature sound of Rush. Peart demonstrated impressive endurance playing dazzling solos at length as well as switching his drumsticks to amplify the sound on his drum kit during live concerts. In addition, Peart played with an extended set of drums ranging from a 30 to 40-piece kit in the round on the live stage to bring power to hits like "Tom Sawyer."
The Rolling Stones established themselves as a dynamic rock band emerging in the classic rock era. Charlie Watts is the drummer behind the hit sound of the Stones. He started out as a graphic artist and tried out for the group as a drummer after gigging on the club circuit. Watts continues to dazzle crowds with his original mates on live concert stages playing hits like "It's Only Rock and Roll."