100 Greatest Drummers of All Time

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

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Steve Smith
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36. Steve Smith

Though he's spent most of the last 30 years touring on the jazz fusion circuit and heading up drum clinics, from 1978 to 1985 Steve Smith's superhuman chops held down arena rockers Journey during their peak years – arcade game and all. His part for the inspirational classic "Don't Stop Believin'" is an intricate open handed pattern in which he plays the hi-hat with his left hand while his right moves around the kit. It's as exceptional as Perry's skyscraping vocals. "I remember the final episode of The Sopranos, when they played 'Don’t Stop Believin'' by Journey," drummer Peter Erskine told Drum! "Smith is part of this important watershed moment in American media…. And then here’s Smith in another setting playing Jo Jones on the hi-hat! How many other guys could drive a band like that and also play the hi-hat?"

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