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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George Hurley
Gary Leonard/Corbis87/100

87. George Hurley

Hardcore punk barely existed when San Pedro, California's monumentally innovative trio the Minutemen made their recorded debut in 1980, but they'd already transcending it, fusing funk, avant-rock and folk into beautifully abbreviated blasts of knotty revelation. The band's frenetic and counter-intuitive — yet weirdly natural-sounding — music might've blurred into chaos without George Hurley, a jazz fan whose impossible speed, versatility and nuance made him the most inventive drummer to emerge from the American indie-rock scene of the 1980s. A few examples among dozens: the biting swing on "Search" and "The Big Foist," the fleet syncopation on "I Felt Like a Gringo," the jagged jazz tumble of "Split Red" and the pummel of "East Wind/Faith," which features of punk rock's rare drum solos. "I like R&B music," he said. "I like the space and the relaxation of it. At the same time, I like things jerky and piecey too, so I try to put the two together. I guess it's kind of like corn nut soup!"

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