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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John Stanier
100
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84. John Stanier

"When you’re playing with loops, the loop is really the drummer," John Stanier said in a 2011 interview, speaking to the high-tech approach favored by his band Battles. "That really, indirectly, is kind of running the show." Still, there's no question that whenever Stanier is onstage, he's the one in charge, powering the performance with lean, pulverizing, furiously danceable beats. When Nineties alt-metal kingpins Helmet burst into the mainstream in 1992 with their million-selling album Meantime, they redefined the sound of heavy rock — and their rise owed a lot to Stanier, whose meaty yet mathematical approach to the kit pushed Page Hamilton's sculpted riffs into new realm of precision pummel. Reared on Neil Peart and drilled in drum-corps technique, Stanier distilled rock drumming to its bare essentials, a trend that would reached peak austerity in Battles. "It was in reaction to the multi-instrumentality and complexity of the other guys," he said of his stripped-down kit, outfitted with one towering crash cymbal, "but also to what I had done before and what drummers of the time were doing." Stanier's gift is making the minimal feel monolithic.

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