The 15 Greatest Groove Drummers Of All Time

Groove Drummers

Ringo Starr

If ever a drummer epitomized taste over technique, it’s Ringo Starr. During The Beatles’ six albums, Ringo kept pace with the ingenious songwriting team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, creating perfectly complementary grooves in songs that ran the gamut from blues, Broadway, jazz, metal, and pop to Latin and country. If anything, Ringo created the template for every session drummer that followed. A left-handed drummer playing a right-handed kit, Ringo’s style changed as The Beatles’ music progressed. He played swing triplets, twists, and bossa novas on early material, grounded avant-garde escapades on Magical Mystery Tour, punched hard rock, blues, and country on Meet The Beatles, and reached his creative zenith on Abbey Road’s “Come Together” and his lone drum solo track, “The End.” Post-Beatles, Ringo made his name as a session drummer extraordinaire before settling into his role as an avuncular superstar leading Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band.

Groove Drummers Groove Drummers

Clyde Stubblefield/Jabo Starks

Without the dynamic duo of Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks there would be no David Garibaldi, no Dennis Chambers, no Gerald Heyward. As the inventive soul rhythmatists for James Brown’s legendary mid-’60s recordings, Stubblefield and Starks put the singer’s vocal gyrations in drumming motion, following his every tic and movement, then replicating it on the kit. Practically inventing linear grooves on the classics “Cold Sweat, “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose,” “Licking Stick–Licking Stick,” and “Funky Drummer,” the pair’s intricate grooves meshed with the other musicians’ output to create a locomotion of unparalleled proportions. Playing both as a team and solo behind Brown, the drummers — most likely under the singer’s direction — created lockstep sixteenth-note patterns with the rhythm-section members, creating a tight, extremely fluid forward-motion groove. Stubblefield’s driving work on “Funky Drummer” resulted in one of the most sampled tracks of all time.

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