The 10 Best Drummer Singers In History

Try to keep up.

Adam Pockrossby Adam Pockross
Photo: Christopher Polk (Getty Images for Mastercard).

Before we get started, let me begin by saying that Dave Grohl doesn’t qualify. I’m sorry, but he doesn’t. He plays guitar and sings now. He doesn’t drum and sing. He didn’t really with Nirvana, nor has he been doing it lately with Them Crooked Vultures. It’s not that I don’t love Dave.

It is that I don’t love Peter Criss, though. I’m not trying to offend here, but Kiss has been hiding behind makeup their whole lives. Their popularity confuses me as much as Trump’s.

Now that I’ve alienated quite a swath of humanity, let me tell you a bit more about me. I’m not much of a drummer, but I can play one good beat. I would never be able to play that beat in a band, though, because I’m completely undependable time-wise. I just want to speed everything up. Perhaps that’s because I secretly feel like I’m always being chased.

Regardless, I’ve noticed that I play that one beat much better when I sing along at the same time. It helps me keep the time, presumably because I’m tapped into something pure — perhaps the truest forms of self-expression around. Watching these best drumming singers below, I can clearly see I’m onto something. If I only had some more beats in my repertoire.

The 10 Best Drummer Singers

Phil Collins

If one of your songs ranks high on the “Best Air Drumming Anthems” list, and you happen to sing on that song while you’re crushing one of the dopest drop-ins ever, then you make this list. (For the record, the number one song to air drum to is anything by Def Leppard, because you can hold your drink at the same time.)

Anderson .Paak

best drummer singers history

Photo: Erika Goldring/FilmMagic (Getty).

If you only know .Paak from this year’s Grammys, where he grooved along with Tribe, then you’ve seen enough to know that he can hang with one of the world’s best groups (I’m still mad I didn’t include “Low End Theory” on my Single Most Definitive Album From The 10 Most Important Bands list). And that’s just the Q-Tip of .Paak’s funky iceberg. (If you need me, I’ll be writing a song called “Funky Iceberg”©.)

Levon Helm

best drummer singers history

Photo: Richard E. Aaron/Redferns (Getty).

It was Helm’s roots that gave The Band their sound, and their heart. His drumming seemed to fuel the folksiness that poured forth from his throat. Unfortunately, Robbie Robertson killed him.

Don Brewer

If all he ever did was play shirtless drums in Grand Funk Railroad and sport pink pants and a premier white-boy ‘fro, it would have been enough. But Brewer also sings some major hits, including this staple of any good cover band. Of course, if said band’s drummer had similar hair and could sing in the slightest, he wouldn’t need to play in a cover band.

Don Henley

best drummer singers history

Photo: Richard E. Aaron/Redferns (Getty).

Another great white-boy ‘fro, a pretty darn good drummer, and also one of the world’s foremost lead singers. And harmonizers. And partiers. Well, except for that time a naked, 16-year-old prostitute OD’d at his cocaine, marijuana and Quaaludes-filled house. But hey, you gotta tap into that beat somewhere.

Also: The 10 Most Distinctly Unique Voices In Rock

Karen F**king Carpenter

best drummer singers history

Photo: Michael Putland (Getty).

Okay, until today, the candy-corny Carpenters used to make me want to file off my ears. But then I found out Karen Carpenter’s not soft at all; she’s a drummer!

Ringo Starr

best drummer singers history

Photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns (Getty).

Which member of The Beatles would you most like to hang out with? If you said anyone other than Ringo, then I don’t want to hang out with you. Ringo’s far more fun than Paul, and John and George are dead. Ringo’s happiness is some of the purest, truest, and most infectious around. And when does Ringo appear to be happiest? When he’s singing and drumming, as he was born to. Or when he’s animated by someone influenced by Peter Max.

Sheila E. (aka The Queen of Percussion)

If you need any other proof besides the example above, then perhaps you should check one of the many other “Best Singing Drummer” lists on the web.

Roger Taylor

best drummer singers history

Photo: Dave Hogan (Getty).

He sang a few Queen songs on his own, which is part of being included on this list. But even if he only did the falsetto shrieks on “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it would merit inclusion.

Peter Rivera (a.k.a. Peter Hoorelbeke)

Rivera was the lead singer and steady-keeper for Rare Earth — Motown’s first white band — during their big hit-making days. And man, did they have some hits, including “I Just Want to Celebrate,” which seems like a really complicated song to go drumming and singing on.

Try singing while performing any of these: Ranking the 10 Best Live Drum Solos Recorded in Rock History