Drum Players Who Raised The Bar. Your Favorites. Your Opinion.


TDPRI Member
Mar 6, 2011
I'll jump on the Richie Hayward wagon. Saw Little Feat at the Celebrity in Phoenix. Round room with the stage in the middle. Stage rotates so you get to see behind the drum kit. Dude could play. Seemed effortless but such syncopation.


Friend of Leo's
Aug 24, 2014
New England


TDPRI Member
Feb 18, 2019
Hastings MI 49058
Clem Burke. One of the most underrated drummers of all time. A good part of what made Blondie Blondie. And he actually drummed for the Ramones for a very short while.


Doctor of Teleocity
Dec 24, 2009
I thought Pick Withers was great on the first two Dire Straits releases. He had as much finesse on his instrument as Knopfler did on his.

Has Jim Keltner been mentioned? The guy raises everybody around him with his style.

And who was the guy who played standing up on the early Pat Benatar vids? He kinda stood out for me.

Bass Butcher

TDPRI Member
Jun 5, 2021
Ontario, Canada
I really haven't done cover music for over 30 years. So a drummer that fits in my band or group(s) is...

- One that can play musically with dynamics, who even owns a set of brushes.
- One who DOES NOT play with three drum sticks duct taped together, or baseball bat sized drum sticks
- One that DOESN'T have a Neil Peart-sized drum set (less is more)
- One that DOESN'T need to smash cymbals as a build, robbing every emotion and solo I ever take..
- One that doesn't have 25 cymbals... I hate cymbals...
- No need for a double bass drum kit ego trip, either. I don't play metal.
- Hopefully one that doesn't ONLY practice with his headphones, thus insisting the entire band plays EXACTLY LIKE THE CD -- I'm 60 and haven't done it EXACTLY LIKE THE CD (or LP) since I was about 16-17 years old. It's usually the drummer who also has the jam room... that's the worst... Not trying for a Tribute copy cover clone band... just wanting to have fun playing music with my original style...
- HE IS >> The drummer that owns 2 sets of drums... one is at the jam room for REHEARSALS one is at home to PRACTICE AND LEARN YOUR PART... So many drummers with only one kit leave their kit at the jam room, and that is where they mistakenly believe we ALL listen to the CD and learn our part... NOT... That's why we PRACTICE at home (you bass players do this, too... leaving your only rig at the jam room) and it's called a REHEARSAL... where you take what your PRACTICE at home to the group and REHEARSE. Typically the kind of folks who call it "band practice"... but it's a "band rehearsal"...

Not just a pet peeve, but a great dividing line between rank amatuers and professionals. If I go in and they (the singer, drummer, guitarist, keyboardist, etc) are learning their part at the rehearsal, I turn around and never go back. It'll take a band like that a year or more and sometimes never do get a paying gig. It's usually more worded "The Band Party"... where somebody brings a cooler of beer, and bag of pot, and is a way for the guys (or gals) to get away from their screaming hateful spouse and children with the excuse to be going to "band oractice" (which is what they are supposed to be doing at home)...

Drummers and bass players are usually the weak link.

I learned to do this...

Make up a song book with the lyrics and chords already printed out for 40-60 or more songs of the genre you want to play. The lyrics are there, so the singer just sings... the chords are already there, so if the guitars/bass/keys are even half-assed, they can fake the songs on the first rehearsal.

I also have all of the songs in MP3 format on a CD or thumb drive, so nobody says "we need the CD"...Then in 2 or 3 rehearsals, and some good contacts, the band is making money in a couple weeks (or less), not a couple years.

It also seems to come down to who ever owns the P.A. is the leader of the band and calls all the songs, regardlss of the rabbit hole of stupid music they seem to think people want to hear.

Mostly why I play solo these days, use a multiple loopers and studio recorded backing tracks (not MIDI glorps), and I don't have to split the income pie several different ways with clods that don't practice and say they "wish we were making money with our band"...
I have to agree, right across the board.

Elwood Telly

TDPRI Member
Aug 25, 2022
Finland - Europe
I understood the original question, but some little "off-topics" may be understood - when it comes to "raising the bar".

Stewart Copeland - The Police - I think he raised the bar by any standards IMHO
Taylor Hawkins (R.I.P) - just loved his work.
Frank Beard - for early ZZ Top - from First Album up to Fandango
Levon Helm - don't ask why
Steve Ferrone - for his great contribute to Tom Petty's Heartbreakers 1994-2017 - up to very end. ("My steam locomotive" - as Tom said).

I really agree on Jim Keltner - work on "Little Village" for example (Hiatt, Cooder, Lowe, Keltner), Travelin' Wilburys etc. I think he keeps rising the bar by being so cool everytime.😎😎
Pick Withers too - early Dire Straits - precision and with no extra hassle - good dynamics - finesse as written above.
Brian Downey - original member of Thin Lizzy. Irish legend - and still alive after hanging out with guys like Phil Lynott and Gary Moore... both R.I.P
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