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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Earl Young
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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty76/100

76. Earl Young

In 1973, on Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' Number One R&B hit "The Love I Lost," Earl Young invented the disco beat — all four beats of a bar played on the kick drum. This endlessly adaptable rhythmic pattern was the pulse of a decade and is still omnipresent wherever dancers are getting down. As part of session crew MFSB, Young also laid the musical framework for Philly Soul, contributing to records by the O'Jays, the Spinners and his own band the Trammps — but his singular contribution lives on the loudest, predicting more than 30 years of house music still filling festivals. "I don't have a drum machine," he said. "I was the drum machine back then."

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