100 Greatest Drummers of All Time

From rock thunder machines to punk powerhouses, we count down the kings and queens of slam

Jerry Allison
100
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44. Jerry Allison

Jerry Allison was Buddy Holly's first collaborator, one of rock's most enduring legacies starting out as a guitar and drums duo. The Crickets sticksman not only co-wrote "That'll Be the Day," but he convinced his pal to change the title of "Cindy Lou" to "Peggy Sue," the name of a woman Allison was hoping to impress at the time. However, the drummer's most important contribution to the latter was rhythmic: the original cha-cha beat wasn't working out, but between takes producer Norman Petty heard Allison slapping out the classic sticking rudiment known as a paradiddle and told the drummer to play that instead. Buddy Holly and the Crickets were the first rock and roll band to use the recording studio "as a combination laboratory and playground," as fan Marshall Crenshaw put it, and Allison was willing to try anything: On "Everyday" he just slaps his hands in his lap. In tribute to that subtle ingenuity, Ringo Starr drummed on a suitcase when the Beatles recorded Holly's "Words of Love."

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