10) Stuart Copeland

The prevalence of the barr chord in punk rock meant that initially even power-trios left little room for light and shade but thankfully the Steve Jones wall of sound was beginning to be dismantled by 1978, which made it possible to leave some space for a song to breathe. In a three piece band the drummer has a major role to play in giving a song dynamics and none were more skilful than Stuart Copeland. Listening to him drive a song like Message in a Bottle’ you can easily miss some of his more inventive interjections, but they’re all there – pushing the song along and providing enough highlights to render second guitars or keyboards superfluous. That Stuart Copeland remains in such high esteem is testament to his enormous skill as a drummer, given the fact that his legacy is tainted by association with smug jazz-botherer Gordon Sumner.

For number one in Paul Hanley’s top 10 drummers please go here

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Seeing Budgie on a list of top drummers, finally! What a unique style of play he had, nice to see a fellow pro give him some praise.

    Good list because Paul has done a good job of explaning why he rates these drummers and why they are important to him, too. :)


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