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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Hal Blaine
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty5/100

5. Hal Blaine

"If Hal Blaine had played drums only on the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," his name would still be uttered with reverence," Max Weinberg once said. But the drummer born Harold Simon Belsky did so much more, recording with Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Elvis and the Supremes, to name just a few. Leader of the Wrecking Crew, the group of L.A. session players that dominated the studio scene in the Sixties and Seventies, Blaine is the most recorded drummer in history. (He lost count of his titles around the 35,000 mark, but among those are 150 Top 10 hits and 40 Number Ones.) As the percussionist behind Phil Spector's "Wall Of Sound," Blaine laid down one of the most recognizable beats in popular music, but Blaine's true legacy is his chameleon-like adaptability to any session – and not only behind a conventional kit. For the Beach Boys' "Caroline, No," he banged Sparkletts water jugs, and on Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," he dragged tire chains across a concrete floor. "I'm not a flashy drummer," he reflected. "I wanted to be a great accompanist." Mission accomplished.

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