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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Keith Moon
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2. Keith Moon

The "greatest Keith Moon-type drummer in the world," as he described himself, abhorred the repetition of rote rock drumming – as well as the repetition in life in general. Moon, the inspiration for the Muppets character Animal, smashed drum kits and hotel rooms with a ferocity suggesting he was more performance artist than mere rock "sticksman." He famously refused to play drum solos and instead treated drums as the Who's lead instrument. "His breaks were melodic," bassist John Entwistle told Rolling Stone, "because he tried to play with everyone in the band at once." Moon the Loon fit drum rolls into places they were never intended to go and only the synth tracks used on Who's Next stabilized his constantly wavering sense of tempo. "Keith Moon, he’s really orchestrated, like a timpani player or a cymbal player in an orchestra," said Jane's Addiction's Stephen Perkins. "He’s making you know that this is an important part, even though it might not be exactly at the end of the four bars. I love that drama, that theater and I love the emotion." Moon's favorite stunt, though, was flushing powerful explosives down hotel toilets, a trick he pulled until 1978, when he died from a drug overdose at age 31.

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