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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Richie Hayward
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56. Richie Hayward

As drummer for surrealist boogie band Little Feat, Richie Hayward tended to play over, under and around the beat. After answering Lowell George's L.A. Free Press ad ("Drummer wanted — must be freaky"), Hayward stuck out the Feat's critical success and commercial failures. As the band's prime mover, he made Little Feat the colorful, swinging and fun dancehall version of the Band's serious, sepia-toned proto-Americana. According to Phish drummer Jon Fishman, "The easiest way to predict what he might play on the set at any given point was to listen to the phrasing of the lyrics." Hayward navigated the Feat's discombobulated prog-boogie and unorthodox song structures on his drums while adding high vocal harmonies. He brought a swampy Louisiana slide to their sound, instigating the second-line funk that would make fans of future employers like Robert Plant and Bob Dylan.

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