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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Pete Thomas
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Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns/Getty73/100

73. Pete Thomas

In under a year, Elvis Costello moved from the wiry pub-rock of My Aim Is True to the bilious punk frenzy of This Year's Model, and he couldn't have made the great lurch forward without Mitch Mitchell fan Pete Thomas behind the kit. On those earliest Attractions records, Thomas played how Elvis sang, with a pent-up-then-spurted anger, a hesitant stutter of kick or snare suggesting a failed attempt at restraining an inevitable explosion. (Cue to the thrilling intro to "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea.") As Costello's songwriting came to demand greater nuance, Thomas remained his ideal rhythmic accomplice, playing with an intuitive sense yielded by long-term collaboration. "Pete Thomas is the rock and roll drummer of his generation by some considerable distance," Costello tweeted last year, "and that you never read that in polls tells you everything you need to know about 'polls' and nothing about drummers."

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