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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Jimmy Chamberlin
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53. Jimmy Chamberlin

According to Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin showed up for his first rehearsal "wearing a pink T-shirt, stonewashed jeans and a mullet haircut. ... We were thinking, 'This is not the guy.' [But] he'd learned all our songs, and within one practice, we were ready to play. He's that good." Unlike grunge-era Zeppelin-ites like Nirvana's Dave Grohl or Soundgarden's Matt Cameron, Chamberlin played like a deadly serious, jazz-indebted muso, suggesting deep familiarity with the fusoid likes of Dennis Chambers and Return to Forever's Lenny White. Filling 1993's Siamese Dream with tight snare rolls and 1995's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness with orchestral fervor, he became as intricate to the band's sound as Billy Corgan's pedal chain. "You can't just grab somebody and say, 'Play drums on this Smashing Pumpkins song,'" Corgan told USA Today. "Jimmy's drum parts are so incredibly technical and nuanced that it's a very rare class of people that can step in and play."

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