100 Greatest Drummers of All Time

From rock thunder machines to punk powerhouses, we count down the kings and queens of slam

Load Previous
Sly Dunbar
100
Peter Noble/Redferns/Getty65/100

65. Sly Dunbar

Nearly ubiquitous reggae drummer Lowell Fillmore Dunbar played with everyone and, due to how frequently his riddims have been sampled, is quite possibly the world's most recorded musician. Nicknamed for his devotion to Sly Stone, Dunbar recorded his first track, "Night Doctor," with the Upsetters at age 15. His 1972 introduction to bassist Robbie Shakespeare led to a life-long working relationship, notably in Peter Tosh's and Black Uhuru's bands as well as the Rolling Stones' 1978 Some Girls tour. Sly and Robbie translated dub reggae to the stage better than anyone. "Me and Robbie didn't realize what we were doing until Jamaican music went dubwise and the bass and drum would come right in your face," he explained. The distance between Carlton Barrett's relaxed swing and Dunbar's fierce metronomic playing marks the place where roots reggae evolved into its dancehall successor.

Back to Top