The 15 greatest ever groove drummers
We asked you who your favourite groove drummers were, and you answered in the thousands. Here, from all your votes, we a proud to present your favourite 15 'groove' players. We take this to mean that these drummers who can best make a drum beat 'feel' good, they're deep in the pocket, and their grooves make you want to nod your head and shake your hips.
In this month's Rhythm, we delve into the concept of groove more deeply, with contributions from some of the world's best groove players, and present video lessons on how to make your grooves feel good!
Meanwhile though, check out our Top 15 groove drummers…
15 – Chris Daddy Dave
Associated act/s: Me’shell Ndegeocello, Maxwell, Robert Glasper, Adele
The Texas-born drummer has ‘gospel chops’ to spare, and a strong groove and syncopation that has helped him to become one of the most in-demand drummers in r’n’b. Recorded highlights include his work with neo soul bass phenomenon Me’shell Ndegeocello, Maxwell, Robert Glasper, D’Angelo and as one of the drummers on Adele’s 21.
Best groove: Maxwell, Bad Habits
14 – Zigaboo Modeliste
Associated act/s: The Meters
The drummer with influential New Orleans funkateers The Meters, Ziggy’s 'Second-Line’ feel is second to none, and his highly-syncopated grooves on the band’s work, such as their most famous track ‘Cissy Strut’, have made him one of funk’s grooviest players. Check out his effortless second-line grooving on Hey Pocky Away, superb hi-hat feel on Fire On The Bayou, and incredible syncopation and snare rolls on Look Ka-Py-Py.
Best groove: The Meters, Look Ka-Py-Py
13 – JP Gaster
Associated act/s: Clutch
Jean Paul Gaster and his band Clutch have been working tirelessly since 1991, and in recent years have finally garnered the acclaim they deserve with the likes of Earth Rocker and new album Psychic Warfare. Their genius is in no small part due to the larger-than-life drummer, whose big beats, swing and shuffle, heavily influenced by the Go-Go funk style of his native DC, are all over tracks like Mob Goes Wild, X-Ray Visions and DC Sound Attack.
Best groove: Clutch, DC Sound Attack
12 – JR Robinson
Associated act/s: Rufus, Michael Jackson, Steve Winwood
JR’s matchless groove is all over the biggest hits of the 1980s, including for Rufus and Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Steve Winwood. His being in demand was down to his unerring ability to keep perfect time, delivering tight, funky grooves time after time, in an age when to err was to be replaced by a machine. Quincy Jones was so impressed with JR, he got his entire band Rufus in to record Off The Wall track Rock With You, one of JR and MJ’s finest tracks.
Best groove: Michael Jackson, Rock With You
11 – Dennis Chambers
Associated act/s: Parlliament/Funkadelic, Maceo Parker, Carl Filipiak
Though best known for his jazz-fusion chops, Chambers is also a master of groove, having first honed his skills with pioneering hip-hoppers Sugarhill Gang, before boarding the Mothership with Parliament/Funkadelic. Working with everyone from John Scofield to Steely Dan, Carl Filipiak, Maceo Parker and the Brecker Brothers, his own records point to an unmatched groove and feel that explain why his touch is so in demand.
Best groove: Dennis Chambers 'Practice What You Preachin'
10 – David Garibaldi
Associated act/s: Tower Of Power
The Oakland funk outfit defined slick funk in the 1970s, and, behind the humungous horn section was the grooving rhythm section of Rocco Prestia on bass and David Garibaldi on drums. Garibaldi’s inventive – in fact, exploratory – grooving on Tower Of Power classics like ‘Squib Cakes’, ‘Oakland Stroke’ and ‘What is Hip?’ set a benchmark for funk, soul and r’n’b that still stands today.
Best groove: Tower Of Power, What Is Hip?
9 – Steve Gadd
Associated act/s: Steely Dan, Rickie Lee Jones, Paul Simon
Session ace Steve Gadd's feel and touch are legendary, and the grooves he brought to the likes of 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and Aja are as well known to drummers as the man himself. Gadd himself is rightly lauded for his perfect combination of technical facility, studio slickness, soul and deep, deep groove. Rickie Lee Jones’ Chuck E’s in Love has a Gadd groove so tasty, you could lick it.
Best groove: Rickie Lee Jones, Chuck E’s In Love
8 – Bernard Purdie
Associated act/s: Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, King Curtis
As one of the world’s most recorded drummers, Purdie’s faultless groove can be found on tracks by everyone from Otis Redding to the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Steely Dan, King Curtis and Aretha Franklin. Just check out the latter’s Rocksteady, on which Purdie plays an infectious, funky pre-disco disco groove; while Steely Dan’s Home At Last showcases his own trademark groove, the ‘Purdie Shuffle’.
Best groove: Aretha Franklin, Rocksteady
7 – Benny Greb
Associated act/s: Blue Touch Paper
Wrote the book on groove. Well, DVD: The Art And Science Of Groove. Here he offers advice and exercises to improve players’ feel and groove. Watching Benny in action, he practises what he preaches – is groove is deep, his playing musical, his sound sublime, he is so obviously in the moment. Explains Benny, “When you are focused and sound like it matters to you right now, the energy translates to other people.”
Best groove: YouTube, search: ‘Just Groovin’
6 – Clyde Stubblefield
Associated act/s: James Brown
With Jabo Starks, Clyde Stubblefield was one of James Brown’s go-to drummers; and if you can please the infamously demanding Godfather Of Soul, you must be doing something right in laying down the tightest of tight funky beats. And Clyde, after all, was the man behind Funky Drummer, with its tricky snare part and perfectly balanced dynamics, not to mention Cold Sweat and Say It Loud I’m Black And I’m Proud.
Best groove: James Brown, Funky Drummer
5 – Chad Smith
Associated act/s: Red Hot Chili Peppers
The man who has given the ‘funky monks’ their mojo for the last quarter-century; Chad Smith has been making rock fans move with swinging grooves, deep pocket rhythms and a bounce to his kick drum that's locked in tight with Flea's swaggering bass lines. There are so many great Chad grooves, from the genius pick-up into Give It Away, via the Bonham-esque Suck My Kiss to the sweet Scar Tissue and beyond.
Best groove: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mellowship Slinky In B Major
4 – Steve Jordan
Associated act/s: The Blues Brothers, Patti Austen, Keith Richards
From touring with the original Blues Brothers to backing R&B artists such as Patti Austen, playing blues with John Mayer and Eric Clapton and depping for Charlie Watts in the Stones (subsequently playing on and producing Keith’s solo albums), Jordan's deep pocket, instinctive feel and killer technique mark him out as one of planet Earth’s greatest groove machines.
Best groove: Patti Austen, That’s Enough For Me
3 – Questlove
Associated act/s: The Roots
Amir 'Questlove' Thompson has forged a career as one of the most in-demand producers and drummers. Putting live beats to hip-hop with The Roots broadened that genre’s musical scope and won him Grammy nominations. Whether it's laying down neo soul grooves with D'Angelo, R&B with Betty Wright and John Legend, or on the kit for Jimmy Fallon’s house band, Questlove’s grooves are cool, smart and deep.
Best groove: The Roots: 'The Seed 2.0’
2 – John Bonham
Associated act/s: Led Zeppelin
The god of rock drumming had power, bombast and a unique sense of groove that to this day sets him apart from all who've gone before or since. There are so many great grooves behind Zeppelin’s music, it's difficult to know where to even start. How about the insistent, crunching Kashmir with its Eastern feel; the oh-so-sexy Whole Lotta Love, the swinging, intricate Good Times Bad Times or the massive blues groove of When The Levee Breaks…
Best groove: Led Zeppelin, When The Levee Breaks
1 – Jeff Porcaro
Associated act/s: Toto, Michael Jackson, Steely Dan
From his work with Steely Dan to the tight, pocket grooves he laid down for Michael Jackson on Thriller, Jeff's feel is absolutely legendary. Nowhere was this more evident than in his work with Toto; check out his incredible Rosanna shuffle, where he takes the lead from other groove masters, combining the Purdie shuffle and Bonham’s 'Fool In The Rain’ shuffle and smoothing them out…