CoS Exclusive Features

Neil Peart is the Greatest Drummer of All Time

on May 30, 2014, 5:00pm

Surprise, surprise: Rush’s own Neil Peart is the Greatest Drummer of All Time. Well, at least according to you readers. Yes, after weeks of voting and debating, the tourney has finally come to a (very predictable) end. Admittedly, we thought the late Bonzo — ahem, Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham — would have given Peart a run for the drum sticks, but alas, the tally came down to 87% for Peart and a scant 13% for Bonham.

It’s not that we’re disappointed. Hardly. After all, Peart is a spectacle and a godlike presence behind the kit, but we’re not so dead set on that choice as you are. Most critics would agree that Bonham, Buddy Rich, or, hell, even Stewart Copeland could go toe to toe with Rush’s famed percussionist. Still, it’s your choice, and we’re pretty stoked that so many of you were willing to champion an artist for so long and with such enthusiasm.

In celebration, check out Peart’s epic drum solo from the Late Show with David Letterman back in 2011. Then roll down the windows, blast “Spirit of the Radio”, and stay tuned for our next monthly tournament which kicks off next Wednesday. Let’s just say, you’ll need to brush up on your film history for this one. Kudos, drum heads.

Final Bracket:

drummers final 2


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June 3, 2014 at 1:39 pm

To say Peart is the “Greatest of All Time” does a severe disservice to a multitude of fine drummers who have blessed us with their talents past and present. Perhaps “Best Prog-rock Drummer”? If any of you watched Neil play in the Tribute to Buddy Rich (available on YouTube), you’ll see he’s clearly not comfy playing big band swing and was outplayed in that genre by many of the others who participated. Clearly not the Best of All Time. How can you even choose a “Best Ever”? This was a waste of time, but interesting for quantifying the amount of love Rush can garner.

titorite (@titorite)
June 5, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Gosh, love is better than bitters

June 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm

The Buddy Rich tribute was before Neil went away for a while to re-study the art of drumming and re-imagine his style. If you watch him play anytime after 1996 or so, you see he has a lot more swing to his movement now, which lends itself better to the big band style. Many of his recent drum solos even end with a little jazz riff, which displays this new playing technique very well. As for “the greatest of all time,” that’s not disservice to other drummers. It’s a service to Neil. He is, indeed, the best ever.

June 5, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Ugh. I wouldn’t even say the best prog drummer. I guess the only legit term would be “The Greatest Drummer Of All TIme according to the readers of”. Which does not include the opinion of every human (doh), nor every musician or even every drummer.

I must confess, I’m not a fan of Neil Peart. I used to listen Rush a lot, but not anymore. What I see now is an old man banging (and I mean it, BANGING, not playing) on drums, and turning to gimmicks to keep his thing interesting. His technique is average rudiment wise, his grooves average, everything is just average.

BUT!!! BUT!!!!!!!!! He has been around since -60′s, and has inspired a PLETHORA of great drummers nowadays, and basically was a kickstarter in the whole prog rock drumming. Which is why he has same kind of respect as Ringo, as a pioneer of prog rock drumming.

But drumming wise? Pheesh! Gimme a break!

Michael Bailey
June 5, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Your a funny guy….

June 5, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Holy shit… You just compared Neil Peart to fucking Ringo?! Holy credibility implosion.

I once had a fake id back in 87 with the name Ringo Peart (as a goof) It was funny for the obvious polar opposite reference.

You are funny…

June 6, 2014 at 2:01 am

Ringo Starr = Peter Criss = Doug Clifford and so on and on…. Talentless but extremely lucky. Your comparison is as stupid and offensive as maybe watching you get up in the morning. Wow.

Larry Lewis
June 6, 2014 at 6:33 am

I’ll just let your comments stand on they’re own. Here, let me get them a wheelchair!

June 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Ringo wasn’t even the greatest drummer in the Beatles.

September 14, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Ringo=Neil…Fucking really?…Are you autistic or just retarted?

if snow is flesh in gardens: we don’t have mouths to talk about it
June 5, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I would even consider some of the people @ consequencesofsound refusing this, it clearly was a public vote to say “which is the drummer I most like/I know”, of course this only makes for another invalid subjective opinion like calling ‘Royals’ best rock song of the year…

Where is Bill Bruford put here for example? At least far better than Neil when it comes to many aspects, and no disrespect to Neil though, I really like him.

June 5, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Try having Buddy do a Tribute to Neil Peart, maybe he wouldn’t be the most comfortable prog rock drummer in the world either.

June 6, 2014 at 7:24 am

I agree that there are, and have been, many many great drummers with a good handful being huge standouts. They all create and band out their own style. What I believe has made Neil top standout is his over-all creativity and adaption. I don’t think there has been a musical genre made that he could not play and do it quite well.

June 7, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Many? Uh, seen the tribute many times, he did a great job with a genre that’s not his, no one who has a rock drumming back ground out played him, he is by far the most musical drummer out there.

Dave Meaden
June 3, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Who cares who won, this is not the world’s most definitive and concise drumming competition/award…it’s just a online vote that maybe a couple thousand people voted on. There is no “Number One Drummer”, there’s just who you like and respect. I’s waaaay too subjective to say who’s the best in world or history. I respect Neil’s skills and contribution to Rock N’ Roll, and he is definitely one of the top drummers ever…PERIOD! But to say someone is the best is just an opinion not the final judgment.

June 5, 2014 at 11:28 pm

well said.

June 3, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Look! Been around along time! All drummers mentioned where great in there life! Neil has taken it to a new level year after year. Neil is the Eddie van halen of the guitar world. Neil plays with his heart and love for music! A true pioneer of drumming!

June 5, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Neil has surpassed Eddie. Eddie hasn’t done anything for guitarists since 1982.

June 3, 2014 at 10:24 am

I´m absolutly agree with Neal Peart but Where is Ian Paice, Carl Palmer, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jimmy Degrasso, Carmine Appice, Deen Castronovo, Rod Morgenstein. To Be Honest Mike Portnoy is a good drummer but never a super Drummer.

June 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm

you haven’t listened to Mike Portnoy or don’t appreciate progressive metal enough

June 4, 2014 at 10:04 am

of course i´ve listened him but in my opinion he is not a super drummer! is just my opinion maybe you´re right but to be honest i think are more better drummers in rock music!!

June 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Portnoy it’s the most overrated drummer. He is the George clooney of drummers.

June 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Or Steve Gadd, Carter Beauford

Niall McTeague
June 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm

totally agree – no Carl!

Rick Pulito
June 2, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Neil is terrific. A fabulous drummer. But not in the same league as Bonzo or Ginger (Baker). Don’t take this wrong, but I respectfully disagree.

June 5, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Ginger Baker? Really? I’m surprised he was even included in the contest.

June 5, 2014 at 4:58 pm

@Boomba: i’m surprised the mental institution allows you to use the internet

June 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm

If didn’t particularly rate Ginger Baker until I’m saw the Beware of Mr Baker movie. Astounding drummer.

June 5, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Neil out play bonzo !!!

June 2, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Wow! With all due respect to Mr Peart, this is like saying that Burger King just beat out McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and A&W for the title of “world’s greatest hamburger”. I understand that out of the handful of drummers out there that the general public has heard of, this list represents the most popular ones. And I mean no disrespect to Neil Peart. He has made a consorted effort to play at the top of his game, and branch out into more than just his Rush role. His work on the Burning For Buddy specials, as well as taking time to study with Freddie Gruber showed an awareness and dedication, as well as a risk factor that you don’t often see. However, due to Mr Peart’s awareness of the drumming world, I would suspect that if you asked him, he would have a completely different list in mind. Granted, Buddy Rich was mentioned, but unfortunately the world at large is unaware of Vinnie Colaiuta, Joe Morelo, Efrain Toro, Peter Erskine, Steve Gadd, etc.

Congratulations to Neil Peart on becoming a fine musician, living a blessed and rewarding life, and following his dreams successfully. But I think calling him the Greatest Drummer Of All Time shows just how unaware the voters really are.

John Knelange
June 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Thanks – you just saved me about 15 minutes.

June 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm

I think you might want to reconsider your definition of “blessed life.” In addition to being an incredible musician Neil Peart has also overcome some tragic laden occurrences that many would be hard-pressed to qualify as blessed. There was a time when it was doubtful whether he would continue with Rush or even making music. Based on that there is one qualification that Neil Peart has on most everyone on the list: Longevity of high performance – 40 years with iconic production.

June 9, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Well said

June 6, 2014 at 1:33 am

Well said Matthew, I think that about sums it up.

Jared Sayre
June 2, 2014 at 4:12 pm

lol ringo starr was on the list: really?

June 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Ringo the best best brat drummer thats right

June 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

That’s beat drummer

June 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm

The average Joe has never heard Billy Cobham drum, unfortunately.

June 4, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Known his drumming since the seventies. Surrealistic !

June 6, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Cobham not making the list makes the list irrelevant.

June 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm

No Jaki Liebezeit or Clyde Stubblefield?

June 5, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Jaki Liebezeit is the hidden God who runs the universe.

June 1, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Hey where is Steve Gadd!!!!

Matthew McCord
June 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm

u put bruford but not cobham, no Lenny White, none of Frank Zappas drummers. Terry Bozzio, Chad Wakerman, Vinny Caliuta.And no Carl Palmer. What theHell! I would had bill bruford, neil peart,carl palmer and Billy Cobham in the final four! Danny Carey and Mike portney oin the final, give me a break. This is a joke!

Matthew McCord
June 1, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I might even had put Terry Bozzio in the final four!

Matthew McCord
June 1, 2014 at 1:30 pm

bruford didn’t even get out of the first round, what are yal smoking!

Matthew McCord
June 1, 2014 at 1:25 pm

What kinda contest is this if u don’t have Billy Cobham!!!! He is better than John Bonham and he could stand toe to toe w/ Neil! Maybe when u actually have Billy in this it will be legit! And yal didn’t specify jazz or rock! So yeah u left off probably the best drummer opf all time! Period!

June 1, 2014 at 3:51 am

The Greatest Drummer in the work is Billy Angelo Stella… He will make Neil Peart cry…..just as much as Buddy Rich was scared of him…I was there…and I know

June 1, 2014 at 3:45 am

The Greatest Drummer in the world is Billy Angelo Stella he will make Neil Peart cry….just as much as he scared Buddy Rich…trust me!!!

September 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm

There really isn’t a great drummer everyone has their own style there all great even you me and million others god gave us a talent use it wisel

June 1, 2014 at 3:20 am

It’s funny how Neil runs away with a frivolous contest, but receives so much negativity. I never heard a bad word about Bonzo or Buddy. Deservingly so, they are legends. Sure, Carter B.(DMB)., Steve Smith, and many more are just as deserving or more. In fact, Neil states that watching Steve Smith keeps him humble and inspired. Makes him want to practice and get better. Many drummer’s have that effect on him. The reality is, music fans who don’t like RUSHS’ music, generally dislike Neal, and think he doesn’t belong with the pantheon of greats. I say bullshit. 50 years of playing the drums and wanting to get better is amazing. Stage after stage, Country after Country, year after year, the legend grows stronger. So you pick your top 100 meat head. Nobody has done it for so long, so good, and with so much humility.

June 1, 2014 at 3:48 pm


June 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Well said. Ultimately, this is an online popularity contest. Great drummers appreciate other artists, and respect those who are dedicated and innovative. If I had to pick my personal favorite drummer, it would be Neil. That said, I love the musicality of Manu Katche, the grooves of Jeff Porcaro, and the technique of Thomas Lang. Duke Ellington said it best: there are two kinds of music (and by extension, drummers), good and bad. If you’re going to play, put in the effort and play well.

June 5, 2014 at 4:06 pm

First of all, although great, Buddy Rich was a Dick! Second, Carter B. From DMB, being put up against Peart is a joke!!! Listen to “Exit Stage Left” or really anything live by Rush.

Ric Jarvis
June 1, 2014 at 2:04 am

Mr ‘Stiff Arms’ Peart doesn’t even come close to being the greatest of all time, in fact I’d not even rate him in the top100 !

June 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Well you clearly know nothing about music.. Go watch one of his drum solos, and if you still think he is not the best or not even in the top 100, then you’re mentally retarded.

June 3, 2014 at 5:29 am

You have no idea what you’re talking about, he isn’t top 100, I know kids in high school who are better.

Gilles Leblanc
September 19, 2014 at 9:50 pm

you must be 12 years old

June 1, 2014 at 5:33 pm

“Stiff Arms?” Seriously? Have you ever heard a Rush song? While I prefer Bonham personally, Neil Peart is easily number two on my list

June 3, 2014 at 12:47 am

Wow, talk about no clue. I’ve never even heard a comment like that from people who don’t like Rush. They still recognize him for his talent. You could not be more wrong. You can try, but you would be unsuccessful.

June 5, 2014 at 5:23 pm

You are an idiot. He is clearly top 5. You are literally braindead. Have mercy on your soul.

Bruce Metcalfe
May 31, 2014 at 9:43 pm

What! No Ian Paice! Bogus Survey!

May 31, 2014 at 8:46 pm

My top 3 drummers of all time are Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, and Elvin Jones. Of those three, only Rich got the points to be in the tourney. SMH @ COS readers.

May 31, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Nice solo. But, Buddy Rich produced more sound and speed with 90% less drums.

June 2, 2014 at 9:05 pm

And no added effects

Brian Guy
May 31, 2014 at 3:35 pm

He is the best of all time, I’m a drummer and he is my biggest influence. What he did on the drums with RUSH in the early days was mind blowing and still today he reinvents him self on every recording and tour. I’m blessed to have a drum head signed to me personally from him. PRICELESS! !!!!!!!!!

June 1, 2014 at 12:46 am

Same case here. I’m a drummer and Neil was my greatest influence. Besides his drumming, I recognize that what he has done for the drumming world, from inventing new bass and floor toms to putting drummers in the forefront, has made him the icon he is.

Gilles Leblanc
September 19, 2014 at 9:51 pm

u have to admit the drumming on fool in the rain by john bonham was soooooo good

Liz Wilkins Dangelo
May 31, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Neil’s the best the next generation will know. Now and forever

Gilles Leblanc
September 19, 2014 at 10:02 pm

and i agree but led zep will be the greatest for a long time to come

May 31, 2014 at 12:51 pm

No, he is NOT

May 31, 2014 at 1:50 pm

YES, he is!!!!!

Lifetime Rush Fan
May 31, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Neil is the greatest living drummer. Buddy is and always be number 1.

Mike Bartholomew
May 31, 2014 at 2:34 pm

I love Neil and have been a fan of his for many years, but, Buddy, in my mind, is the Greatest of all time!

May 31, 2014 at 11:43 am

Bonzo may have drummed great, but the Professor is a great drummer/percussionist!!

May 31, 2014 at 11:26 am

Bonham was and always will be the best !!!

May 31, 2014 at 12:01 pm

OMG!!!! NEIL IS THE BEST!!!! Hands down!!! The guys you put him up against are all dead drunks or jokes!!!! he`s #1 over 40 + yrs can any of them say that???? NOT!!!!

May 31, 2014 at 10:50 am

Buddy Rich, yeah, but Copeland is an overrated hack, not fit to polish Neal’s sticks, and I like the police, but wow is he so overrated.

June 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Agreed! Copeland couldn’t hold Collins’ sticks. Stupid poll.

Joe Sterle
May 31, 2014 at 10:30 am

“Spirit of the Radio”? There is no such Rush song. Why is this simple song title so hard for people?

May 31, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Agreed :)

June 1, 2014 at 6:58 am

Joe Sterle
June 1, 2014 at 10:14 am

Haha! I love that!

June 4, 2014 at 3:19 pm


May 31, 2014 at 10:24 am

What, no carter beauford? Dave Matthews Band may not be “cool”, but carters got some serious skills. This whole bracket’s invalid without him

Jason Marsh
May 31, 2014 at 9:14 am

In an attempt to make a compliment that may not have been said before, I’ll say this: Neil makes it look COOL. He just looks awesome as he drums.

May 30, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I’m very disappointed. I thought Bonzo would’ve won for sure :(

May 31, 2014 at 9:17 am

Nah, there was no other choice than Neil. I’m disappointed that it was that close. :)

June 1, 2014 at 1:15 am

You really thought Bonzo would win against the Professor? The odds were totally against Bonzo not only because Neil has legions of Rush fans voting for him, but he has also been the teacher, through the videos, of nearly every rock drummer alive today.

June 2, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Maybe not the best, but gotta throw out a few others…..the drummer for Santana at Woodstock, and the Outlaws drummer- Monte Yoho

June 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Guys there are probably many technically better players than Neil and he would be the 1st to admit this but one thing he gave us over most was a new evolution of drumming from the late 70′s onwards. He broke new boundaries with his complex patterns which i and most drummers could only dream of thinking up, and actually putting them to music. If i had to pick a favour out of all … which is bloody difficult, it would be SImon Phillips. Amazing chops and power … a true legend … the list is endless and may it continue !!!!!


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