The 12 Best Drummers of the 1970s

The best 70s drummers, who made our list?

Often not being given the credit they deserve, drummers are the backbone of every band. Unfortunately, they are often overshadowed due to the vocalist or the guitarist, but they are just as essential to the success of any band.

However, the 70s were a much different time. Due to the nature of music produced during those times, the 70s saw the emergence of legendary drummers and music icons that were unlike no others behind the drums.

Let us explore this in detail, talking about some of the greatest drummers the 70s produced. These drummers were absolute masters of their craft and were known worldwide for their drumming prowess.

John Bonham

He was the drummer for one of the greatest bands in rock and roll history, Led Zeppelin, and rightfully so, as his technical ability allowed him to lift the band to new heights in terms of fame.

John was known as the world’s hard rock drummer, and many drummers used to worship his skills as a musician during his time. He was known as the best of the best, influencing many other iconic drummers for years to come, such as Dave Grohl and Chad Smith.

What made John so special was how he pounded the drums, genuinely embodying the loud music that made up the hard rock genre while making grooves and producing rhythm that provided the audience with the best of both worlds.

John’s loud style of playing the drums produced a chilling melody mixed with a very funky undercurrent. This resulted in a background rhythm that was unique to the band, later becoming their signature sound.

Together with Led Zeppelin, John has produced music that is deserving of the title of being known as a piece of art, from his work in ‘Immigrant Song,’ which entrances every person who listens to it, even to this day, to his world-famous drum twenty-minute drum solo which shook the entire stadium.

Above everything, John’s ability to produce such hypnotizing melodies is what made him such a phenomenon in the world of music and why the audience always knew that they would experience something extraordinary whenever John came on stage. He’s still remembered today as one of the best drummers of all time.

Jeff Porcaro

Jeff Porcaro was a legendary drummer who significantly contributed to music as a session drummer. Born on April 1, 1954, in California, Porcaro was part of the famed Porcaro musical family, which included his brothers Mike and Steve, who were also musicians. 

Porcaro’s career as a session drummer began in the late 1970s and continued until his untimely death in 1992. During this period, he worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, and Toto. Porcaro rose to fame for performing on the Steely Dan album Katy Lied.

Porcaro’s drumming style was distinctive, focusing on grooves and feel rather than flashy fills and solos. He was known for his impeccable sense of time and ability to play in various genres, from rock to pop to R&B. 

Porcaro’s most famous work as a session drummer was on Michael Jackson’s iconic album, “Thriller,” where he played on the hit song “Beat It.” He also worked on successful albums like Toto’s “Toto IV,” which won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1983.

Jeff Porcaro’s contributions to music as a session drummer cannot be overstated. His impeccable timing, ability to groove, and versatility made him a highly sought-after musician in the recording studio. Despite his premature death at age 38, his legacy lives on through his numerous recordings, which continue to inspire and influence musicians today.

Keith Moon

Keith Moon is the most chaotic drummer ever in rock and roll. He was known not only for his antics while performing but in everyday life as well.

Throughout Keith’s career, smashed hotel rooms and broken-down drum kits had become a norm, as he was known to be the personification of chaos and destruction.

Keith Moon Drumming

He is known to be such a wild card and one of the most memorable drummers present in the 70s because of his nature while playing.

No matter how chaotic Keith Moon got on the drums, not even once did anyone feel like things were going off the rails. His command over the complexity of rhythms and the technical ability he could produce, even amidst such chaos, speaks volumes of his talent.

Furthermore, he was very peculiar because one of his quirks was that, unlike other drummers or musicians in general, he despised solos and always pushed the envelope with the melodies he produced.

Roger Taylor

Although Queen was primarily famous due to the iconic Freddie Mercury and Brian May, Roger Taylor was also a significant reason for their success and deserved just as much credit for the band’s overwhelming success throughout its reign in the world of music.

Jazz music was all the rage during the 70s, and that is the style of music in which most people used to specialize. However, Roger went a step further, and by fusing rock and jazz into his drumming style, he created an all-new variation that was unique to him alone. 

His unique drumming technique completely changed the rock melody, reflected in the songs they produced. The resulting grove and rhythm, combined with Freddie’s eccentric personality, drew the crowds in to watch them perform live.

Charlie Watts

Charlie is a musician with the most out-of-the-ordinary career change in rock and roll history. He used to be a graphics designer until one day, he decided to completely change the course life had in store for him by joining the Rolling Stones in 1963, going from a designer to a drummer.

Like the other drummers during that era, he was also primarily a jazz drummer, but his techniques synergized with the Rock and Blues music style which the band adopted.

Due to this combination of blues and jazz, the resulting tracks were enticing due to their rhythm and propelled the Rolling Stones to chart success.

During his time playing for the Rolling Stones, Charlie heavily contributed to a significant number of hits, which were widely known due to the subtlety of his playing style and which blended with the background to create a one-of-a-kind melody that drew in loads of jazz and rock enthusiasts.

Ian Paice

Although Deep Purple has been through a range of ups and downs during their career, one constant which has always been there was the band’s drummer, Ian Paice.

Ian was heavily influenced by hard drumming, adopting a speedy and hard style when playing the drums, which later became iconic for the band and the reason he became a beacon for other modern drummers to look up to. 

He was always there for Deep Purple and is the one who carried the band on its back, taking the band to new horizons of success and fame during the 70s due to his impeccable skills with the sticks, eventually becoming one of the biggest bands during that time.

His signature one-handed roll is something that many modern drummers have also been influenced by, and he is one of the few rock legends that is still pounding the drums.

Neil Peart

Known as the greatest rock drummer to have ever been present during the 70s, Neil was an absolute machine on the kit, and his versatility was unmatched. The different ways he could perform gave him the title of being the best of the best during that era.

Neil Peart Performing Live
John Atashian / Alamy Stock Photo

Neil was a madman on the drums, being able to play in various styles. Not only that, but he was also an accomplished songwriter responsible for producing a majority of the lyrics for Rush.

Furthermore, he is also known as one of the pioneers of the sci-fi rock genre, adopting similar lyrics and integrating unique instruments in his tracks.

Steve Gadd

Regarded by many fans as the best session drummer to have existed, Steven Gadd has collaborated with a significant number of different artists throughout his career.

Not just that, but Steve is also famous for redefining the entirety of the jazz-pop music genre and has produced great hit albums during his time.

Although he has recorded tracks with music icons like Eric Clapton, he is most known for his collaboration with Steely Dan, where he produced a jaw-dropping solo that defined the peak of his drumming career.

His astounding solo in the song ‘Aja’ cemented his name in rock and roll history as one of the best solos, even by today’s standards.

Mick Fleetwood

Mick Fleetwood is a British drummer and co-founder of the iconic rock band Fleetwood Mac. Throughout his long and storied career, he has significantly contributed to rock music.

Fleetwood’s accomplishments with Fleetwood Mac are numerous and significant. He helped to form the band in 1967 and played a crucial role in shaping their sound and style over the years. 

His unique drumming style, which combined elements of blues, rock, and jazz, helped to define the sound of the band and set them apart from their contemporaries. His contributions to the band’s classic albums, including “Rumours” and “Tusk,” are widely regarded as some of the best drumming performances in rock music history.

In addition to his work with Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood has had a successful solo career and collaborated with numerous other artists over the years. 

He has released several solo albums and worked with musicians like David Bowie, Peter Green, and John McVie. He has also been involved in several film and television projects and has even published a memoir about his life and career in music.

Fleetwood’s influence extends far beyond his work in music. He is also a passionate advocate for environmental causes and has been involved in numerous philanthropic efforts. He has also been recognized for his contributions to the music industry, including being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Overall, Mick Fleetwood’s accomplishments as a drummer, musician, and humanitarian are numerous and significant. His contributions to the world of rock music have had a lasting impact on the industry.

Phil Collins

Phil Collins is a British drummer, singer, and songwriter who has achieved significant success and recognition throughout his long and prolific career. He is widely regarded as one of his generation’s most talented and versatile drummers and has also had an impressive solo career as a singer and songwriter.

Collins is best known as the drummer and lead vocalist for the rock band Genesis. He joined the band in 1970, and quickly became an integral part of their sound, contributing his distinctive drumming style and powerful vocals to some of the band’s most iconic songs. His work with Genesis helped to define the sound of progressive rock in the 1970s and set the stage for the band’s later success in the 1980s.

In addition to his work with Genesis, Collins has also had a successful solo career as a singer and songwriter. He has released numerous hit singles and albums, including the classic songs “In the Air Tonight,” “Against All Odds,” and “Another Day in Paradise.” His solo work has earned him a devoted following of fans and has also earned him numerous awards and accolades, including seven Grammy Awards.

Collins is also known for his work as a film composer and actor. He has written music for numerous films, including Disney’s “Tarzan,” and has also appeared in several movies and television shows, including the hit TV series “Miami Vice.”

Overall, Phil Collins’ accomplishments as a drummer, singer, and songwriter are numerous and significant. His contributions to the world of rock music have had a lasting impact on the industry. In addition, his legacy as a master musician and prolific songwriter inspires generations of drummers to this day.

Bill Bruford

Bill Bruford is an English drummer and composer widely regarded as one of the most influential drummers of all time. Throughout his long and illustrious career, he has made significant contributions to numerous bands and projects and has earned a reputation as a master musician and innovator.

One of Bruford’s most significant accomplishments is his work as a member of the progressive rock band Yes. He played with the band from 1968 to 1972, contributing his signature drumming style to some of the band’s most iconic songs, including “Roundabout” and “Heart of the Sunrise.” 

He was also a member of King Crimson, another legendary progressive rock band, and played on some of their most groundbreaking albums, including “Red” and “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic.”

In addition to his work as a drummer, Bruford has also made significant contributions to the field of electronic drums and percussion. He was one of the first drummers to incorporate electronic drums into his setup and a pioneer in developing MIDI drum triggers. 

He has also experimented with hybrid acoustic-electronic drum kits and has continued to push the boundaries of what is possible with electronic percussion throughout his career.

Outside of his work with bands, Bruford has also had a successful solo career and has released numerous albums as a bandleader and composer. His work as a composer is characterized by its innovative use of rhythm and harmony, and his unique approach to composition has earned him a devoted following among fans of progressive music.

Bill Bruford’s accomplishments as a drummer and composer are numerous and significant. His contributions to the world of progressive rock and electronic percussion have impacted the music industry. His legacy as a master musician and innovator continues to inspire generations of musicians today.

Stewart Copeland

Stewart Copeland is a renowned drummer and composer, best known as the founding member of the rock band The Police. Over the years, he has become an influential figure in the music industry, with a legacy far beyond his contributions to The Police.

As the drummer for The Police, Copeland played an instrumental role in the band’s success during the 1970s and 1980s. His distinctive drumming style, which combined elements of rock, punk, and reggae, helped to define the sound of the band and set them apart from their contemporaries. 


His impressive skills as a percussionist are showcased in many of The Police’s biggest hits, including “Roxanne,” “Message in a Bottle,” and “Every Breath You Take.”

In addition to his work with The Police, Copeland has also had a successful career as a composer. He has written music for many films, television shows, and video games, including Spyro the Dragon. 

His work as a composer has earned him critical acclaim and several awards, including an Emmy for his work on the television series The Equalizer.

Copeland’s influence extends beyond his work in music. He is also an accomplished writer and has authored several books, including a memoir about his time with The Police. 

He has also been involved in numerous philanthropic and humanitarian efforts, including creating the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and supporting organizations like Amnesty International and the Syria Relief charity.

Overall, Stewart Copeland’s accomplishments are impressive and wide-ranging. His contributions to The Police and his successful career as a composer and writer have cemented his place as one of the most influential figures in the music industry.

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.

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  1. A good list but you can’t leave out Jeff Porcaro. His work with Toto (Rosanna, Africa, etc.) and with Boz Skaggs, Steely Dan, and many others defined the sound we now know as Yacht Rock. RIP Jeff!


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