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The 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time
Neil Peart

Modern Drummer Magazine

March 2014

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Whose playing endures through the decades? Whose music do we reach for when we want new ideas? When we want to practice? When we want to laugh? Who inspires and delights us most?

Drumming is a vast and mysterious art, but those are the concepts that help determine greatness.

Now you can turn the page and find the artists who, regardless of genre or era, are revered by the drumming community most consistently. The results, after all, were made by you - drummers, from hobbyist to superstar. Many thousands of you submitted your top ten in our online poll, we tallied it all up, and now we present for all the world MD's 50 Greatest Drummers of All Time.

1. Buddy Rich
2. John Bonham
3. Neil Peart

Neil Peart (b. 1952) joined Rush in 1974; Ron Spagnardi started Modern Drummer in 1977. Since the founding of this magazine, Peart has inarguably been the most visible, most popular symbol of the modern drummer, making it no surprise that he was voted the highest-ranking active player on our list. This seven-time (and counting) MD cover star is ever hungry to learn and improve, digging into musical inspirations from around the world with great relish and adding these ingredients to his own homemade brew with each Rush release. Taken as a whole, his body of work over the past forty years - including video tutorials on studio tracking, soloing, and playing live - reveals a staggering breadth and depth of percussive exploration both deadly serious and whimsically good-humored. Oh, and meanwhile Neil has also written most of the band's lyrics; his words and his rhythms have helped Rush become a definer of heavy progressive rock.

With a fierce commitment to making every idea and every note as clear as day, Peart divides his time among the conception of parts, honing and polishing, and, finally, recording. For years he famously left little to chance on stage or in the studio...until he began to embrace the idea of improvisation more fully - yet another example of his dedication to personal and band growth. Indeed, Rush has enjoyed a fruitful period lately, issuing two well-received studio albums and several live releases since 2007. And last year the band toured with a string ensemble behind 2012's Clockwork Angels.

The Canadian trio is taking a hard-earned rest in 2014, routing Peart's 360-degree electroacoustic rig - and his well-traveled motorcycle - off the road. But we can content ourselves by revisiting Rush classics and digging, among other delights, Neil's trademark Latin-style ride pattern ("Limelight," "Subdivisions"), time-travel grooves ("La Villa Strangiato"), over-the-top song suites ("2112," "Cygnus X-1"), soloing prowess (Exit Stage Left's "YYZ"), and get-'em-jumping-out-of-their-seats, kit-busting fills (take your pick!).

4. Tony Williams
5. Elvin Jones
6. Steve Gadd
7. Vinnie Colaiuta
8. Keith Moon
9. Ringo Starr
10. Gene Krupa
11. Mike Portnoy
12. Stewart Copeland
13. Max Roach
14. Jeff Porcaro
15. Billy Cobham
16. Papa Jo Jones
17. Bill Bruford
18. Roy Haynes
19. Philly Joe Jones
20. Art Blakey
21. Phil Collins
22. Dave Weckl
23. Ginger Baker
24. Terry Bozzio
25. Bernard Purdie
26. Hal Blaine
27. Steve Smith
28. Mike Mangini
29. Dennis Chambers
30. Jack DeJohnette
31. Dave Grohl
32. Jim Keltner
33. Mitch Mitchell
34. Gavin Harrison
35. Charlie Watts
36. Jojo Mayer
37. David Garibaldi
38. Joe Morello
39. Clyde Stubblefield
40. Peter Erskine
41. Carl Palmer
42. Lars Ulrich
43. Simon Phillips
44. Danny Carey
45. Alex Van Halen
46. Louie Bellson
47. Carter Beauford
48. Steve Jordan
49. Tony Allen
50. Carlton Barrett

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