In a year where it feels like everything has stopped, you'd be forgiven for thinking that activity in the rock world has been quiet. In fact, the opposite has happened, with bands releasing live albums, performing collaborative covers on social media, and in a few cases, even making new albums.
The rock category is a wide church, hence the long-list being one of the longest of our drum polls. So, get ready for some familiar faces, returning legends and even emerging songwriters as we count down the people you voted as the 10 best rock drummers in the world right now.
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1. Rick Allen
Rick and the rest of Leppard had big plans for 2020, part of which included a huge tour with Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett, but instead fans had to settle for the London to Vegas DVD/live album release. Still, Rick Allen clearly holds a place in your heart, as you’ve voted him the best rock drummer of the year, congratulations, Rick!
2. Jon Larsen
You’ll spot a theme in this category: rock was kept grounded this year, both on-stage and in the studio, resulting in a huge number of live albums. Volbeat joined the action, with Jon Larsen powering the band through the 27-track album from behind his monster Pearl kit.
3. Ashton Irwin
The 5 Seconds of Summer drummer used the lockdown to make his own solo album, Superbloom. The album takes in Ashton’s 90s grunge and alternative rock influences, and shows a more mature side to both his songwriting and drumming.
4. Scott Phillips
Alter Bridge’s sticksman made the Top 10 last year, and Alter Bridge’s success off the back of 2019’s Walk The Sky saw them primed for a packed 2020. In lieu of the opportunity to tour, AB reissued the album this Autumn as the deluxe 2.0 version, automatically qualifying Scott for the MusicRadar 2020 Best Rock Drummer poll. It was a cunning move.
5. Simon Phillips
Simon kept busy in 2020, putting in an appearance on Derek Sherinian’s album, The Phoenix, spanning everything from vintage fusion to metal. Simon also released the second album with his project DarWin, showcasing not only his incredible drumming, but his production skills too.
6. Roger Taylor
Wherever you stand on the debate of is it/isn’t it Queen without Freddie, we think it’s fair to say that the band and the music are being kept alive respectfully. Roger Taylor sounds as good as ever on this year’s Live Around The World collection, and we’re glad that he's still keeping the Queen machine running.
7. Tommy Lee
Tommy Lee has always been partial to mashing up rock with hip-hop and electronics, and this year’s Andro has him doing exactly that. Elsewhere, he’s returned to playing DW drums, and if it wasn’t for the obvious, we’d have got to see how he rode his kit around the stage with Motley Crue. Still, 2021 is looking good!
8. Travis Barker
Travis Barker is prolific at the best of times, so something minor like a globally-enforced lockdown was never likely to stop him. First, he raised millions for charity blitzing his way through a set of Nirvana covers with Post Malone, drummed on Machine Gun Kelly’s resurrection as a pop-punker, and also did some work on his day job with Blink-182’s quarantine single, er…Quarantine.
9. Dave Grohl
Grohl kept himself amused for a good part of this year with a back-and-forth drum battle against Nandi Bushell. When he wasn’t doing that, he fitted in some guest appearances on drums with Stevie Nicks, released his first ever signature snare drum with DW, oh, and he finished a new Foo Fighters album too.
10. Phil Rudd
Ruddy hell! Not only has Phil pulled up the drum stool to propel Acca Dacca again, but he’s come back with a stonking new album too! We know there’ll be some who will complain about the lack of variation in Phil’s playing, but honestly, who would you rather propel the rock “n” roll train into the new decade?