18. John Jenkins (Sigma)
The Rhythm Best in drums 2017 polls have received over 137,000 votes, and we're now ready to roll out the winners. The nominees were what we considered to be the drummers and gear that have excelled in 2017. Here, we present the best live session drummers of 2017. First up we have John Jenkins, drummer for Sigma...
2017 highlight: John gained considerable profile as drummer for The Streets, before moving on to become Musical Director for Lily Allen and Example. Following a short break, John bounced back this year, laying the beats for Brit drum’n’bass duo Sigma’s epic live shows. What’s more, he did it from behind an amazing, custom illuminated Gretsch kit.
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17. Oli Wiseman (Anne-Marie)
2017 highlight: A relative newcomer to the drum world, Oli certainly made his mark in 2017 as the drummer for pop singer Anne-Marie and Wilkinson. As well as being a tasty player with a bright future ahead, Oli has also built a bit of a reputation as a hybrid drumming guru. Watch the video below to see Oli in action with his pals Andy, Beanie and Kaz...
16. Rich Redmond (Jason Aldean)
2017 highlight: Rich is one of the leading lights of the blossoming Nashville session scene. In addition to holding it down behind country rock superstar Jason Aldean, this year Rich also stepped further into the acting world and launched www.drumminginthemodernworld.com, aimed at helping up-and-coming drummers get ahead in the music business.
15. Rashid Williams (John Legend)
2017 highlight: You don’t land a gig with someone as soulful and successful as John Legend by chance. Rashid Williams has been John’s drummer of choice for many years now, and the recent John Legend UK arena tour, including a night at London’s O2 Arena, was a masterclass in taste, soul and pocket from Williams.
14. Donavan Hepburn (Take That, Jeff Lynne's ELO)
2017 highlight: Donavan has been holding it down with Take That ever since the veteran boy band reformed way back in 2006, and in between tours he’s found time to play for Olly Murs, Sam Smith and other leading lights of the pop world. But our personal 2017 highlight was witnessing Donavan’s performance at Wembley Stadium with Jeff Lynne’s ELO, a drum gig he’s owned since the rock legend started performing again in 2014.
13. Geoff Dugmore (Johnny Hallyday)
2017 highlight: You may not read much about Geoff Dugmore in the music press, but he’s one of the most consistently hard working drummers in the business. When he’s not in the studio Geoff’s playing drums in stadiums around the world with platinum selling French singer Johnny Hallyday, and most recently he's enjoyed a stint on tour with Japanese singer-songwriter Eikichi Yazawa.
12. Jonathan ‘Ginger’ Hamilton (Sam Smith)
2017 highlight: It takes a special kind of drummer to gel with Sam Smith’s haunting, world-class vocal. We can think of no better player than Ginger to tackle that challenge head on. Tour dates with Sam will stretch well into 2018 for Ginger, but our highlight for 2017 year was Sam and the band’s spine-tingling BBC Live Lounge performance.
11. Joe Clegg (Ellie Goulding)
2017 highlight: Joe’s involvement with the epic Ellie Goulding live show is well documented, but it’s the intense work that he puts in behind the scenes as her Musical Director that really deserves recognition. Away from the arena and festival shows, our favourite Clegg moment of 2017 was his double drums performance with Katy Perry drummer Adam Marcello at the London Drum Show.
10. Beanie (Rudimental)
2017 highlight: Beanie has proven himself a man of many talents this year. Not only has he continued to own his role as the rhythm machine for drum and bass livewires Rudimental and performed dates with Anne-Marie from behind the kit, but the workaholic drummer has also proven he can multi-task by strapping on a guitar for the pop songstress too!
9. Josh Freese (Sting)
2017 highlight: This year Freese proved once again why he’s up there with the best by returning to his old gig with Sting, most recently handled by Vinnie Colaiuta. The band played almost every corner of the globe, performing setlists that took in everything from Police classics to material from the seminal 10 Summoner’s Tales.
8. Aaron Spears (Ariana Grande)
2017 highlight: Undoubtedly Aaron’s 2017 highlight was taking on the hefty role of house drummer during the One Love Manchester concert in June, honouring the victims of the tragic Manchester Arena terrorist attack. In a very short time Aaron learned tracks by artists including Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, as well as his boss Ariana Grande. Not only that, but Aaron added his usual sprinkling of drumming magic to each and every song.
7. Steve Jordan (John Mayer)
2017 highlight: John Mayer, Pino Palladino and Steve Jordan are a match made in groove heaven, and when the trio get together and jam on stage there’s no competing with them. After releasing his seventh album The Search For Everything, Mayer, Palladino and Jordan hit the road and took their audiences to school.
6. Steve Gadd (James Taylor)
2017 highlight: Recently the session legend has been on the road with the formidable Chick Corea/Steve Gadd band tour, but our highlight has undoubtedly been Steve’s approach to James Taylor’s incredible back catalogue at a series of monumental 2017 concerts. There’s a reason this guy gets hired to play drums for the biggest artists on the planet.
5. Dexter Hercules (Emeli Sande)
2017 highlight: In addition to a powerful performance of Hurts at this year’s Brit Awards, young Dexter has been slaying the live circuit with Emeli Sande. More recently, Dexter put in a joyful and inspiring performance on the main stage at the London Drum Show. We’re pretty sure his career is only just getting started.
4. Steve Barney (Anastacia, Mike & The Mechanics)
2017 highlight: Steve spent much of 2017 on the road with his long-time boss Anastacia, as well as entering the studio for a string of sessions. But it was when Steve announced he was heading out on tour with childhood hero Mike Rutherford and Mike & The Mechanics that his year in drums was truly made.
3. Cherisse Osei (Simple Minds)
2017 highlight: What a year it’s been for Cherisse! Earlier in 2017 she embarked on an acoustic tour with Scottish rockers Simple Minds, putting in an electric performance night after night from behind a unique stand up kit/percussion rig. Since that tour ended Cherisse has announced she’s contributed some playing to the band’s forthcoming new album Walk Between Worlds and will join them on a European tour in 2018.
2. Karl Brazil (Robbie Williams, James Blunt)
2017 highlight: Karl is such a busy drummer that we can’t remember when he last placed outside the top three in this poll. Juggling two gigs is tough enough, but even moreso when it’s playing stadiums with pop juggernaut Robbie Williams, then straight into shows with James Blunt. When Karl’s not on the road, you’ll probably find him in a studio somewhere laying down tracks for the next big thing in pop.
Winner: Gerry Morgan (Niall Horan)
2017 highlight: We were first introduced to Northern Irish sticksman Gerry Morgan during his stint as drummer for James Bay, but this year his focus has been backing solo One Directioner Niall Horan where his vintage tone and lush groove have proven to be the perfect fit for Horan’s Fleetwood Mac-inspired guitar pop.