The issue of male actors who are older being cast with younger female actresses has been a widely recognized concern in the Bollywood industry. Typically, the age discrepancy is restricted to a mere ten years, however, it can exceed up to 20-30 years in certain instances. Although in the past, no one seemed to pay much attention to it, nowadays, the viewers have begun to challenge this practice. Here are a few examples of films that featured a lead actor who was significantly older than his female counterpart.
Salman Khan – Disha Patani
Salman Khan has portrayed romantic relationships with several young women in his movies, and according to rumors, he might have had some off-screen relationships too. Nonetheless, his most surprising on-screen pairing was with actress Disha Patani in the movie Radhe.
While working on the production of the 2021 film, Khan was 55 years of age, while Disha Patani, who played his love interest in the movie, was merely 28 years old, which results in a significant age gap of 27 years between them.
Anil Kapoor – Kareena Kapoor Khan
This combination was uncommon not just due to the difference in age, but also because the two actors belong to different eras of Bollywood. The surprising duo was featured in the film Bewafa alongside Akshay Kumar.
During the filming of the 2005 movie, Anil Kapoor was 49 years old and Kareena Kapoor Khan was only 25, despite the significant age difference of 24 years. Nevertheless, they successfully played the roles of a married couple in the film.
Aamir Khan – Anushka Sharma
Aamir Khan goes against the traditional Bollywood expectations in several ways, such as his acting style, script choices, and lack of knowledge in social media. Although he has defied many norms, one area where he has fallen short is in breaking the pattern of male-female co-stars with significant age-gaps.
In the movie PK, which was one of Aamir Khan’s major films, the 49-year-old actor acted alongside Anushka Sharma, who is 26 years old. Fortunately, their on-screen love story was only one-sided, so their age difference of 23 years didn’t create much controversy.
Amitabh Bachhan – Soundarya
The movie Sooryavansham holds a special place in Bollywood and is beloved by many as a cult favorite. It is often remembered as a cherished family tradition to watch every Sunday. However, one interesting detail that often goes unnoticed is the significant age difference between the lead actors of the film.
During the production of the successful film in 1999, Amitabh Bachchan was 57 years old, whereas his wife’s role was performed by an actress who was only 22 years old, leading to a considerable age gap of 25 years between the two actors.
Shahrukh Khan – Anushka Sharma
King Khan has introduced several fresh and youthful personalities to the Bollywood film industry through his movies. Despite his advancing age, his female counterparts in the films appear to remain forever young.
In the movie “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi”, the actor who was 43 years old at that time was cast opposite Anushka Sharma who was only 20 years old. It was quite surprising to see a 23-year age gap between the two actors. Nevertheless, the film was a great opportunity for the young actress to make a remarkable debut, so it can be considered a justified decision.
Shahrukh Khan – Deepika Padukone
Here’s another popular actress of the modern era, who made her debut in the late 2000s alongside Shahrukh Khan. However, the significant difference in their ages is also quite surprising.
When Deepika Padukone made her debut in the movie Om Shanti Om, she was a young and new 21-year-old actress, while her co-star Shahrukh Khan was 42 years old. This resulted in a significant age difference of 21 years between the two lead actors. They have since collaborated twice more, for the successful films Chennai Express and the upcoming Pathaan.
Ajay Devgn – Tamannaah
In 2013, these two performers collaborated on the film Himmatwala, which failed miserably due to its exaggerated plot. The film narrates the story of a male character, portrayed by Devgn, who marries the daughter of a cruel landlord to get back at him.
Tamannah, who portrayed Devgn’s love interest and daughter in the movie, was 23 years old during its release, whereas Devgn was 44. The age difference of 21 years added a unique element to the choreography of the song Naino Mein Sapna.
Akshay Kumar – Kiara Advani
We can expect to see Akshay Kumar frequently in films where he acts alongside much younger co-stars in the future. This action-comedy hero has gained popularity not only for his remarkable performances but also for his roles opposite actresses who are younger than him.
In the movie Laxmii, the actor starring in it acted alongside Kiara Advani, a female actor who is 25 years younger than him. When the filming process took place, Kumar was 53 years of age, whereas Advani was only 28.
Rajnikanth – Aishwariya Rai
In 2010, the film Enthiran, which was also known as Robot, caused a significant impact upon its release, as it featured renowned actors Rajnikanth and Aishwariya Rai Bachchan, a former Miss World.
Despite the sci-fi action movie’s popularity and admiration, a less noticed aspect was the significant difference in age between the movie’s main duo. Rajnikanth, aged 59, starred in the movie while Aishwariya, aged only 37, played alongside him.
Rajnikanth – Amy Jackson
In 2018, the movie 2.0, which is a continuation of Enthiran, was launched. Rajnikanth acts as Dr. Vaseegaran, a scientist who invents robots, just like in the previous film. However, in comparison to his double role in the previous movie, the famous actor played three different roles in this sequel.
One character he portrays is Chitti, a highly developed robot, while Amy Jackson takes up the role of Nila, a fellow robot who develops romantic feelings for Chitti. The disparity in their ages, Rajnikanth being 67 and Amy Jackson only 26, creates an age gap of 41 years, which is even more intricate than the three Rajnikanths.
Sanjay Dutt – Gracy Singh
The film Munna Bhai MBBS is widely recognized as an iconic masterpiece of Hindi cinema. It’s unforgettable because of the bromance it showcased, which has since been regarded as one of the most remarkable on-screen relationships in Bollywood history.
However, the film also presented a somewhat disputed element, which is the significant gap in age between the two main actors, Gracy Singh aged 23 and Sanjay Dutt aged 44.
Akshay Kumar – Manushi Chillar
The upcoming film Samrat Prithviraj, set to release in 2022, explores the idea of what age gap is acceptable for a lead pair in a movie. Although the historical drama gained attention for its significant failure at the box office, it also stirred controversy due to the 30-year difference in age between the couple shown on screen.
In the movie, Prithviraj Chauhan is portrayed by Akshay Kumar, who is 54 years old. On the other hand, the character of princess Sanyogita is played by Manushi Chillar, who is a 24-year-old Miss World title holder from 2017.
Amitabh Bachchan – Shefali Shah
In the movie Waqt: The Race Against Time, Amitabh Bachchan, a seasoned actor, acted alongside Shefali Shah, 33 years his junior, which was not the sole surprising pairing in this sentimental family drama.
The role of the duo’s son in the movie is played by Akshay Kumar, who is actually older than Shah, at 38. Kumar was also paired against Priyanka Chopra, who’s 16 years his junior. This movie is truly a race against time!
Nawazuddin Siddiqui – Huma Qureshi
Gangs of Wasseypur 2 is a cult favorite and garnered as much success as the first film. The crime movie is dark, gritty, and one that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat.
However, the more dangerous fact of the movie is the age gap between lead actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, 37, and his love interest Huma Qureshi, 25. To add to this disturbing fact, the role of Siddiqui’s mother in the movie is played by Richa Chaddha, who was also 25 during the filming of the movie.
Hrithik Roshan – Mrunal Thakur
The leading men of Bollywood all have some movies behind them where they are romancing women almost half their age. It seems that even actor Hrithik Roshan isn’t exempt from the list.
For his 2017 movie Super 30, the then 45-year-old actor starred opposite actress Mrunal Thakur, who is 19 years his junior. Thakur is Hrithik Roshan’s main love interest in the movie, who plays the role of a mathematician.
John Abraham – Jacqueline Fernandez
The Housefull franchise is whacky enough to give even the sanest person whiplash. The constant confusion in the movie makes for great comedic value, at least for the first two movies of the franchise.
In Housefull 2, one of the four main couples in the ensemble cast was Jacquline Fernandes and John Abraham. During the movie, the hunky Abraham was 39 while the Sri Lankan beauty was 27 years old, making her 12 years his junior.
Salman Khan – Katrina Kaif
Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif are a tried and tested on-screen pairing that has delivered multiple hits over the years. Not only have the duo been a hit on-screen couple, but they have also been a couple in real life.
Together, the two have starred in six movies including the hit Ek Tha Tiger, with another one in the pipeline. However, the two do have a massive age gap of 17 years, another testament to the fact that the age gap between main leads is indeed a troublesome factor.
Anil Kapoor – Rani Mukherjee
The problem of age gaps between leading pairs is not a new problem. The roots of this can be traced way back, as evidenced by the 2001 movie Nayak.
The box office hit stars Anil Kapoor as an everyday man who stuns the nation with his proactive attitude and ability to make changes. Kapoor was 45 when the political drama was shot, while his co-star Rani Mukherjee was only 23.
Saif Ali Khan – Tamannaah
Humshakals was one of Saif Ali Khan’s biggest regrets in his life, as stated by the actor. The mega flop movie was ridiculed for everything, from the script to the acting.
So it’s no surprise that the lead pair, Saif Ali Khan and Tamannaah, also have a ridiculous age gap between them. The actor was 46 during the 2014 movie, while Tamannaah was only 25, making her 19 years his junior.
John Abraham – Mrunal Thakur
Action hero John Abraham starred opposite actress Mrunal Thakur for the 2019 action thriller Batla House. The movie is inspired by true events that transpired in September 2008.
Abraham plays the role of police officer Sanjay Kumar, while Mrunal Thakur plays his wife. But the age difference between the on-screen couple is actually pretty big. Abraham was 46 at the time of the movie, while Thakur, who is 19 years his junior, was only 25.
Ajay Devgn – Sonakshi Sinha
These two actors have shared the screen as love interests in several films, like Action Jackson and Son of Sardaar. But the age gap between the two begs the question of why.
During the shooting of Son of Sardaar, their first movie together, Sinha was a relatively new actress at 25, while the seasoned Ajay Devgn was 43. Sinha, 18 years his junior, went on to star in multiple movies with him, even making a cameo in Devgn’s Himmatwala for a song.
Akshay Kumar – Katrina Kaif
Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif have set the silver screen on fire together many times. The duo was once the reigning couple of Bollywood, delivering hits after hits.
The actors may have amazing chemistry, but what the audience often forget is that they also have a 15-year age gap! When the duo first started together in the movie Humko Deewana Kar Gaye, Kumar was 38 while Katrina was only 24. Even more disturbing is the fact that in the movie, Katrina’s fiancé was played by Anil Kapoor, who is 26 years her senior.
Dhanush – Sara Ali Khan
Even the latest generation of female actors aren’t safe from being paired against actors almost a decade older than them. The latest actress added to this list is Sara Ali Khan.
In the 2021 movie Atrangi Re, Dhanush and Sara Ali Khan play husband and wife while also sharing a 12-year age gap. Just like the movie’s very convoluted storyline, Khan’s secondary love interest is played by none other than Akshay Kumar, who is 28 years her senior.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui – Avneet Kaur
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a versatile actor who has won the hearts of many people with his acting prowess. He’s all set to star in an upcoming movie Tiku Weds Sheru alongside Avneet Kaur.
The unusual pairing has raised eyebrows due to the age gap between the two lead actors. Siddiqui is 47 years old while Kaur is only 20 years old. The age gap of 27 years is something that has the audience shaking their heads.
Govinda – Katrina Kaif
This is a surprising entry on the list, as the affable Govinda has made a name for himself as the easy-going comedy king of the 90s. However, for his 2007 movie Partner, the actor was paired against Katrina Kaif, an actress with whom he has a major age difference.
During the movie’s release, Govinda was 43 years old while Katrina Kaif was only 24, making her 19 years his junior.
Bobby Deol – Kriti Kharbanda
One of Bobby Deol’s last movies was the ridiculous Housefull 4, which is probably one of the most unliked movies of the franchise. Not only is the movie bizarre but it also has three male leads who are all romancing very young females.
One of these pairings is Bobby Deol and Kriti Kharbanda, who have an age gap of 22 years. The second pairing, Riteish Deshmukh and Pooja Hegde, have an age-gap of 12 years while Akshay Kumar and Kriti Sanon are also 22 years apart.
Hrithik Roshan – Pooja Hegde
Another one for Hrithik on the list is his 2016 period-action movie Mohenjodaro, the actor appeared next to the fresh-faced Pooja Hegde. The movie tells the story of a lower-class man, who falls in love with a woman from a high section of society.
The fictional love story is all well and good, but the reality is something entirely different. Roshan, during the movie, was 42 years old, while Hegde, who is 17 years his junior, was only 25. This is also a tale as old as time, just like the movie!
Abhishek Bachchan – Taapsee Pannu
Manmarziyan is a modern-age romance full of the sufferings of the youth, the folly of love, and how even the unexpected can become something to cherish. Abhishek Bachchan is an NRI who comes to India to meet a girl for marriage, Rumi, played by Taapsee Pannu.
The duo might play spouses on screen but they’re far apart in age. The actors were 42 and 31 when the movie was shot.
R Madhavan – Dia Mirza
Yes, Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein was one of the biggest hits of 2001 when it was released, and its popularity only increased over the years. However, the movie has garnered some controversial attention for its plot. So it’s no surprise that along with the plot issues, there are also age issues in the movie.
Lead actor R Madhavan is 12 years older than his leading lady Dia Mirza. Mirza’s supposed fiancé in the movie, who’s played by Saif Ali Khan, is also 12 years her senior.
Sunny Deol – Amisha Patel
Sunny Deol and Amisha Patel starred together in one of the most heartbreaking romance movies in Bollywood – Gadar. The 2001 movie (yes, it was the year for out-of-the-box love stories) tells the story of Jeet and Tara, two lovers torn apart by forces around them.
During the movie, this Deol brother was already 44 years old and at the peak of his success, while Amisha Patel was only 25 years old, a whole 19 years younger than him.
Farhan Akhtar – Prachi Desai
This multi-talented actor, director, and singer first took up acting after already having achieved the title of an acclaimed director. Farhan Akhtar was 34 when he made his Bollywood acting debut in the 2008 musical hit Rock On.
The movie also acted as the debut movie for TV superstar Prachi Desai, who played Akhtar’s wife in the movie. However, the leading lady of TV was only 19 years old when the movie was shot.
Suniel Shetty – Sameera Reddy
Suniel Shetty ruled the big screen with his macho, angry man presence in the 90’s. But the actor was equally proficient in comedy, and also starred in the 2009 comedy movie De Dana Dan alongside Sameera Reddy.
However, the on-screen pair actually have a massive age gap between them. Shetty was 48 during the movie, while Sameera Reddy was only 28 when she portrayed his girlfriend.
Salman Khan – Sneha Ullal
The notorious Salman Khan has found a great way to deal with his breakups. After every breakup, the actor brought in an actress to the industry who bears a strong resemblance to his ex-girlfriend.
A case in point is Sneha Ullal, who starred opposite Khan in the movie Lucky in 2005. Ullal bears an uncanny resemblance to Khan’s ex Aishwariya Rai Bachchan. However, during the release of this movie, Khan was 41 while Ullal was only 19!
Rishi Kapoor – Divya Bharti
The 1992 movie Deewana tells the story of a woman named Kajal, the widow of Ravi, who remarries another man. However, her new life takes a turn when Ravi comes back, alive and well.
In this movie, Kajal was played by actress Divya Bharti while Rishi Kapoor played the role of Ravi. The age gaps during those times weren’t such a big deal, maybe that’s why the directors decided to pair the 18-year-old Bharti against the 40-year-old Kapoor.
Sanjay Dutt – Vidya Balan
Either the men refuse to age and act accordingly, or the directors want to keep taking them back. Either way, the age gap problem persists across movies franchises.
For Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Sanjay Dutt reprises his role of Munna, but this time against actress Vidya Balan, who plays the role of a radio jockey. During the shoot of the 2006 movie, Dutt was 47 years old while Balan was only 27, making her 20 years his junior.
Saif Ali Khan – Deepika Padukone
Some Bollywood pairings cement their status as a good bet and keep coming back for more and more movies, due to their amazing chemistry and fan-following. One such pairing is Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone, who’ve starred together in four movies together.
However, the duo has an age difference of 16 years between them. During their first movie together, Love Aaj Kal, Khan was 39 years old while Deepika Padukone was only 23.
Bobby Deol – Priyanka Chopra
It’s a pairing that wouldn’t pass in today’s day and age in Bollywood. But these two Bollywood actors did get together for the first and the last time for the movie Kismat in 2004. In the movie, Bobby Deol’s character unwittingly puts the father of the girl he loves, Priyanka Chopra, in danger.
It’s surprising to note that during this movie, Chopra was only 22 years old while Bobby Deol, 13 years her senior, was 35.
Anil Kapoor – Amisha Patel
Anil Kapoor is one of the heroes of Bollywood who has faithfully churned out movies for the past 40 years. The man has done everything, from being a heartthrob in the 90s to venturing into pure comedy in the 2000s.
One of his comedic roles was in the multicast ensemble Race 2, where he played an inspector who goes to solve a case with his airhead secretary, played by Ameesha Patel. What’s shocking is that the two, who strike up a romance on-screen, actually have a 20 year age gap!
Aamir Khan – Asin
Asin’s Bollywood debut is a success story through and through. Ghajini inspired a generation of men to cut their hair close to their scalp, the cut being dubbed ‘The Ghajini Cut’ throughout the country. The movie starred Asin opposite Aamir Khan in the leading role.
Even though Aamir looked like an innocent and sweet businessman during some parts of the movie, he was actually already 43 years old, while Asin was only 22.
Irrfan Khan – Saba Qamar
Hindi Medium was a movie praised by the audience for its amazing script and stellar performances by all involved. The 2017 movie saw versatile actor Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar play husband and wife.
Even though the duo played the role of parents and spouses in the movie perfectly, in reality, they’re actually quite far apart in age. Khan was 50 years old when the movie was released, while Saba Qamar was only 33.
When we think of rock or jazz bands, our minds automatically jump to the guys standing out in front and center stage: the lead guitarist or lead singer. But, there’s one person who is left underappreciated — the man that managed to tie the whole thing together. These are the best drummers from throughout history that we’ll never be able to truly forget.
Colin Trevor “Cozy” Powell
Starting in 1970, Colin Trevor Powell — better known as “Cozy” — was drumming for several groups before he found his place in the unforgettable band, Black Sabbath. His dedication to drumming was best summarized by fellow bandmate Emerson who retold a story about a time he’d forgotten his sticks…
“He considered using some fallen branches from my orchard until a local farmer drove into town to get some proper ones. They weren’t the correct weight but were sufficient when he held them upside down using the fat end. Then he’d do his drum solo, and it would be like World War III had broken out.”
Vinnie Colaiuta is so masterful that many powerful and talented artists jumped over each other just to have him play for them. As a result, Colaiuta got to work with the likes of Joni Mitchell to Sting.
Colaiuta takes his craft very seriously and isn’t in it for the fame or glory. He once said of his job, “You’re not there to show off a bunch of crap or be the center of attention. You’re there to blend in and be a part of it.”
John “Drumbo” French
John “Dumbo” French was an important part of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band — a band he joined in 1966. His toms-heavy, polyrhythmic style became an important part of the group, and he even ended up serving as the band’s music director for their masterpiece, Trout Mask Replica.
After a bitter argument over money, French ended up leaving and forming his own magic band, which would reflect his powerful and chaotic approach to music and rhythm.
Born in Cuba, Dave Lombardo is described by many of his fellow musicians as being a speed demon. After joining Slayer, Lombardo earned the nickname “A.D.Dave” for his ability to effortlessly keep up with hardcore rager songs like “Angel of Death.”
The song, which tops out at 210 bpm, includes an incredibly unique and captivating drum solo that Lombardo repeated — drawing on his Latin jazz influences — in the song, “War Ensemble.” It seems like he was born to drum, with artist Matthew Barney calling him a “caffeine head.”
Dave Garibaldi is undoubtedly an inspiration to some of the best drummers out there. This includes Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer — Chad Smith — who considers Garibaldi to be one of his favorite drummers saying, “His drumming … took me to another level.”
Garibaldi began his career playing with James Brown. His late ’70s rhythms helped to broaden James Brown’s audience and were a key element in the band’s hit, “What Is Hip?” He later played with other famous groups such as Beastie Boys.
Born in Panama, Billy Cobham is considered by many music critics as a benchmark for what was later called “fusion drumming.” Fusion drumming combines the impressive improvisation jazz dexterity with that head-banging rock power that came to dominate bands of the later years.
He first appeared behind Miles Davis on several of his albums where he met guitarist John McLaughlin. Together the two would set a tone that was later repeated in the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Nearly everyone has heard of Buddy Holly, but few people have ever heard of Jerry Allison. It’s fair to say, though, that there wouldn’t be one without the other. Jerry Allison was Buddy Holly’s first collaborator. Together, they became a legendary guitar and drum duo who created music that became famous throughout the United States.
The two also set a precedent that revolutionized the music industry by becoming the first rock and roll band in history to use a recording studio.
Before becoming an incredibly successful pop singer in the ’80s, Phil Collins was one of the most prolific drummers of the ’70s, working with some of the biggest names such as Brian Eno, Brand X, and the Peter Gabriel led lineup of Genesis.
Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor said of him, “I love his drumming and I’m not afraid to admit it. As Genesis’ drummer, I think he’s phenomenal and not really talked about enough. He’s just such a great, well-rounded drummer.”
Although Bill Ward is considered one of the inventors of heavy metal, his unprofessional behavior ended up becoming detrimental to his career as he hopped from band to band.
Beginning in Black Sabbath, he was one of the original players who helped to define the sound of what would later become one of the most popular heavy metal bands ever to play. He later went on to play for Rage Against the Machine, helping to bring them back to prominence with their 2013 album, 13.
“Every audience is different, so we want to try and speak directly to that audience or deliver a different message every time we play. If you play the same thing every time, the word will get out.” That was Carter Beauford’s philosophy on drumming when he spoke with Guitar Center.
As a founding member of the Dave Matthews Band, he used many of his wildly complicated and busy licks to give them a sound that would last for years.
Jack DeJohnette never actually planned on becoming a drummer, although he was always destined to be a musician. From age four, Jack learned how to play the piano, never actually touching a drum set until he was 18 years old.
He would eventually go on to play with Miles Davis, a man he greatly admired. According to the iconic musician, “It was great to play with Miles because Miles loved the drums. Everything came from the drums. He liked boxing, he was a big boxing fan, and he saw drums in jazz as having similar aspects.”
Ramon “Tiki” Fulwood
Ramon Fulwood was the drummer for funk bands, Parliament and Funkadelic. A lead vocalist of the group — Grady Thomas — said of Fulwood, “Man… [Ramon] was the hardest foot drummer I ever heard!”
According to a legend from the band, Fulwood used to sneak into the clubs at 17 years old in order to play his drums and had to actually beg his mother to let him go on tour. He was later defined by his unique, heavy-handed drumming, which made him a drummer to be admired.
Jim Keltner is quite possibly one of the luckiest drummers to have ever picked up two sticks and wandered over to his drum kit.
But, it wasn’t all luck that was responsible for his magnificent career. At the end of the day, Keltner has become one of the most revered drummers of his day playing with the likes of Harry Nilsson, the Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, Randy Newman, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, the Pretenders, Fiona Apple, Oasis, and, of course, the Beatles.
Jeff Porcaro wasn’t just an amazing drummer, he was a gigantic presence during the rock ages beginning in the ’70s all the way up through the ’90s. His accomplishments were quite impressive. For instance, it was his stick work that ended up giving us the head-bopping beat for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
Jeff’s brother once said about him, “You felt like you were capturing lightning in the studio. It was never boring […] He always came up with the best parts instantly, like he’d been playing the song for years.”
Next time you’re rocking out to the fantastic single “Don’t Stop Believin,’” make sure you remember to thank Steve Smith. It was his rock and roll drumming that helped to inspire and create the iconic song by Journey.
In an interview with jazz musician Peter Erskine, he revealed that “Smith is part of this important watershed moment in American media… And then here’s Smith in another setting playing Jo Jones on the hi-hat! How many other guys could drive a band like that and also play the hi-hat?”
Fred Below came before the Motown funk records that dominated much of the jazz scene and would later become the inspiration for more modern rock and roll. It was his work that propelled artists like Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Howlin’ Wolf into the mainstream.
After jazz, Below jumped into blues — something that he was wholly unfamiliar with but ultimately became a staple with hits like “I’m Ready” or Chuck Berry’s “School Days.”
Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann
Someone up there was looking out for the world of rock and roll when they introduced Mickey Hart to Bill Kreutzmann. The two of them ended up combining forces to become rock and roll’s first-ever double-drummer outfits.
“The language that Bill and I share is not spoken,” said Hart. “It’s body language, winks, and movement…a secret language that we cannot describe.” The drum duet between the two later evolved into a completely improvised style of music which thrilled music fans everywhere.
Tony Allen was known for always pushing the envelope in the world of rock and roll. He was considered by some of the best in the industry as being a radically polyrhythmic “groove machine” with Afrobeat co-inventor saying, “It’s incredible.. the way you play one wouldn’t even need a percussionist.”
Tony Allen brought American music to Africa — combining the local West Africa highlife, apala, and Nigerian mambo with the jazz and funk that had taken over the states.
James Gadson is considered by many to be one of the most important drummers in Los Angeles’ music scene. He was the core member of the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band and later, Bill Withers’ band.
Even though he had duties to his full-time groups, he still played with some of the biggest names in the local record labels including the Jackson 5’s, the Temptations, and even with Marvin Gaye. All this L.A. noise from a man who was originally from Kansas City.
Roger Hawkins impressed some seriously important people in the music industry including the legendary Jerry Wexler, the producer whom he actually coined the incredibly important term — “rhythm & blues” — with. In spite of that accomplishment, Wexler was in awe of Hawkins who he considered to be “the greatest drummer in the world.”
Some of the songs he played for included Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There,” and Percy Sledge’s unforgettable “When a Man Loves a Woman.”
“When I made the record Bo Diddley in 1955, it turned the whole music scene around. Caucasian kids threw Beethoven in the garbage can.” There’s no doubt that Clifton James was a big influence that helped bridge the gap between jazz and rock and roll.
From humble beginnings, James grew up in Chicago with 13 siblings and learned how to play on chairs and tin cans. He was a contributing drummer to Chicago blues legends including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, and Sonny Boy Williamson.
Reggae music owes a lot to Carlton Barrett. Preferring to go by the name “Carlie,” Barett’s tom-tom drum and cracking snare can be heard on some of the most popular reggae songs to ever be released.
He is also credited with the signature “one drop” rhythm that can be heard in nearly every reggae song, and was initially featured in Bob Marley’s solo band. When talking about drumming, Barrett has said that “good reggae drummers make playing a spiritual experience.”
When it comes to drumming, Carmine Appice literally wrote the book. That book, The Realistic Rock Drum Method, was released in 1972 and has since become a must-read for anyone who wants to drum like a rockstar.
In the words of the artist himself regarding his accomplishments, “I pioneered the use of big drum sets and played with the butt end of the sticks early on. I did that because there were no P.A. systems.”
Dave Grohl is the drummer who helped bring the unbelievable sound of Nirvana to life. Butch Vig — producer of one of the band’s hit albums Nevermind — revealed that “Kurt had called me up and said, ‘I have the best drummer in the world now. He plays louder and harder than anybody I’ve ever met.’”
Can you imagine a compliment like that from one of the greatest? All this from a guy who learned how to play in the DC suburbs on a makeshift drumset.
Danny Carey joined Tool — one of the most powerful and memorable bands in the heavy metal arena — in 1990. A giant both on stage and in person (standing at six-feet-five-inches tall), Carey is arguably one of the most admired rock drummers of his entire generation.
His trick is in combining the delicate technique of odd meters and polyrhythms with an incredibly powerful force and a fluid feel. For a true appreciation of his talent, you just have to listen to Tool play.
Earl Palmer was born in New Orleans and helped to define much of the beautiful improvisational jazz that much of the city is known for. As a result of this, Palmer became one of the most recorded drummers in history.
According to fellow band member Carol Kaye, “Earl took over […] he was the greatest drummer I’d ever heard.” Much of his rhythms have been heard in songs like “La Bamba,” “Summertime Blues,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” and “You Just Sent Me.”
“Every drummer wants to play like Gadd because he plays perfect,” said jazz musician, Chick Corea. “He has brought orchestral and compositional thinking to the drum kit while at the same time having a great imagination and a great ability to swing.”
Indeed, Gadd introduced into rock music the deep and gentle funk that most people couldn’t have even imagined before. His most recognized works include the mind-bending syncopation of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
“There is nothing new about timekeeping, it’s just that some people can keep better time than others,” Jones said in a Down Beat interview in 1977. “Some people are more sensitive to rhythmic pulses, and the more sensitive you are, the more you can utilize the subtleties of timekeeping.”
Jones had such impeccable timekeeping that a modern-day computer likely couldn’t have done it any better. He inspired many with his works including Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, and John Bonham.
Originally from Marvell Arkansas, Levon Helm spent much of his youth in the ’50s and ’60s driving all over the United States and Canada as a member of Ronnie Hawkins’ band.
Once 1965 rolled around, Helm was backing Bob Dylan on his first electric tour and a few years later, in 1968, they had decided to form their own group. After Helm’s passing, Dylan expressed that he was “one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation.”
Ian Paice is credited as a major influence on heavy metal music. He’s perhaps best known for his time with Deep Purple, providing the drumming for major hits like “Hush” and “Smoke on the Water.”
Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse once said about Paice, “He has a swing that feels just right. And his dynamics are great. The drummer in my trio, Van Romaine, calls him the ‘Steve Gadd of rock.’”
Even though Bernard Purdie grew up in Maryland, his nickname — “Mississippi Bigfoot” — was known throughout New York during the early 1960s. It was there that he began playing jazz sessions with artists like Nina Simone and Gabor Szabo.
He later rose to be one of the most in-demand drummers throughout the entire city, and he served several years as Aretha Franklin’s musical director. When he wasn’t doing that, he was recording with names like Steely Dan and Bob Marley.
When Tony Williams went up on stage with the legendary Miles Davis for the first time, he was only 17 years old.
The year was 1963 and he was incredibly nervous but by the end, Miles Davis said of him in his autobiography, “Man, just hearing that little [solo] made me excited all over again […] I could definitely hear right away that this was going to be one of the baddest to ever play a set of drums.”
Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste
After touring with Joseph Modeliste for several months, Rolling Stone reporter Joe McEwan described his drumming as “standard technique to the wind… punching out rollicking… rhythms with a stiff-armed attack.”
That wild style of drumming ended up making him one of the most lyrical funk drummers ever to sit behind a drumset. Much of his style was inspired by his hometown of New Orleans, where he grew up watching the incredible drummers of that city produce jazz and blues styles.
Terry Bozzio isn’t just any old drummer — he’s on this list after all. He went on a solo tour with one of the largest tuned drum and percussion set played by one person.
In spite of that, Bozzio said that “I’m not really interested in the circus act part of it at all.” His obsession with technique has put him in the line up for many great bands including Horn, Faith No More, and Missing Persons from the ’80s new wave movement.
A talented drummer from the start, Bill Bruford was already raising eyebrows and turning heads by the time he appeared for the public on the first five albums of the band, Yes.
By 1972, right when Yes was just moments away from becoming world-famous, Bill decided to move on to a new band called King Crimson. Here, he conjured new music as if out of thin air night after night. By 2009, he decided to retire and has since completed his Ph.D.
Buddy Rich was a self-taught man with a technique that surprised many of his colleagues and eventually earned himself the title as, according to big band drummer Gene Krupa, “the greatest drummer ever to have drawn breath.”
He landed a once in a lifetime gig with Tommy Dorsey, which led him to meeting his friend/rival Frank Sinatra. His music had reached around the world, and for many people in Britain, he was the first drummer that they had ever heard.
Back when the Beatles was looking for a drummer, they invited Ringo Starr in for an audition. By the end of it, nobody could believe what they’d heard.
Looking back Paul McCartney said, “I remember the moment, standing there and looking at John and then looking at George, and the look on our faces was like, ‘What is this? And that was the moment, that was the beginning, really, of the Beatles.” Ringo Starr has since become a household name as both a Beatle and a solo artist.
Back at a time when country and bluegrass groups were turning away from drummers and percussion altogether, Dominic Joseph “DJ” Fontana was making a name for himself on many of the early albums of the one and only Elvis Presley.
He combined hillbilly music with the rock and roll of the 1950s to help create songs like “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Hound Dog.” With D.J. on stage, many music critics commented that Elvis had been given a foundation from which to perform.
When Charlie Watts was playing with the very well established Blues Incorporated, he was suddenly approached by a man named Mick Jagger to play in his new band, The Rolling Stones.
Looking back then, most agreed that there was no way Jagger could afford the rising star, but he ended up making the best decision of his career and joining their group. His talent on the drums led to hits like “Satisfaction” and “Sympathy for the Devil.”
“He had a distinctive knack for executing various rhythms all at the same time. He had a pulse, a steadiness, that kept the tempo better than a metronome.”
That quote was from none other than the Motown founder himself, Berry Gordy, who would often refuse to play in the studio unless Benny Benjamin was there with him. Benjamin was a staple in the Motown world — and was the inspiration of other talented artists such as the one and only Stevie Wonder.
Stewart Copeland’s sound came from having seen the world by the time he was an adult. His father, Miles, had been a diplomat and as a result, Copeland moved from country to country throughout the Middle East before returning to his native country of England.
That time spent abroad ended up inspiring much of the sound that he brought to the band, the Police. As Sting said, “It made me realize it’s all about how he attacks his drums; how he plays.”
Al Jackson Jr.
If there’s one thing that drummers can do well, it’s keeping pace in a song, but none did it quite like Al Jackson Jr. — who was known as “the Human Timekeeper” during his prolific career.
That crisp and groovy sound helped to create the sounds of legendary artists like Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Al Green. In fact, Jackson ended up assisting Al Green in writing one of his most famous songs, “Let’s Stay Together.” He also played for “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Coming.”
Mitch Mitchell, the drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, took an interest in music from an early age. With his style and sound, it’s no surprise that he has gotten more accolades from fellow artists than nearly any other drummer.
Roger Taylor of Queen said that “he played the kit like a song, it was just wonderful… [his] fusion of jazz technique and wonderful riffs, but with this rolling ferocious attack on the whole kit … Total integration into the song. Not just marking time.” Stewart Copeland of the Police even credited much of his inspiration from Mitchell.
During a 2015 interview with NPR, Neil Peart commented on how Gene Krupa “was the first rock drummer, in very many ways. He was the first drummer to command the spotlight and the first drummer to be celebrated for his solos… He did fundamentally easy things, but always made them look spectacular.”
Today, Krupa is still considered to be the godfather of the drumset artistry — he proved that drumming isn’t just about the music, it’s also a sport and a spectacle.
Clyde Stubblefield and John “Jabo” Starks
John “Jabo” Starks had a background in jazz and blues while the man known as Mr. Funky Drummer — Clyde Stubblefield — was more familiar with R&B.
The two had a distinct style but it worked well together, often elevating each other’s strengths while compensating for the other’s weaknesses. Their mastery of the art would be felt during the entire hip hop Golden Era.
Born and raised in sunny California, Travis Barker is an American musician and songwriter best known as the current drummer for punk-rock band Blink-182 although he has been known to perform as a frequent collaborator with various hip hop artists.
Now 44 years old, Barker found his love for drumming at an early age. He began playing for the Aquabats in 1996 but it was only a couple of years later, in 1998, that he’d leave the band to join Blink-182. Throughout the years, Barker has undeniably established himself as a versatile drummer.
An Ohio native, Steven Adler is a musician best known as the former drummer and co-songwriter for the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. Throughout the late 1980s, Adler rose to fame and achieved worldwide success with the band, although he was later fired in 1990 for substance abuse.
Since then, the 55-year-old has bounced around from band to band. Still, though, there’s no denying that talent courses through his veins — especially when you consider the fact that he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of Guns N’ Roses.
Larry Mullen Jr.
Larry Mullen Jr. — the name may ring a bell considering that he’s both the drummer and co-founder of the rock band U2. Hailing all the way from Ireland, Larry co-founded the band in 1976 after posting a message on the school’s notice board.
Little did he know at the time that he would go on to receive 22 Grammy Awards, as well as an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Larry is known for his distinctive, almost military drumming style, which he developed from his childhood days playing for various marching bands.
The first female musician to make this list, Cindy Blackman is an American jazz and rock drummer. She gained prominence and altered the course of her career — transitioning from Tony Williams-style jazz to an arena-playing rockstar — when she joined Lenny Kravitz’s live band in 1993.
Since then, Blackman has recorded several solo jazz albums, as well as performed with musicians including Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Simmons, Ron Carter, Sam Rivers, Cassandra Wilson, Angela Bofill, Buckethead, Bill Laswell, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Henderson, and Joss Stone. She also happens to be married to rock guitarist Carlos Santana!
Born and raised in the ‘land down under’ — or Australia — Phil Rudd first gained fame as the drummer for rock band AC/DC whom he played with from 1975 to 1983, and again from 1994 through 2015.
Throughout the years, Rudd has undoubtedly made a name for himself, getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 along with other members of the band. Known for his huge groove and solid backbeat, Rudd has earned praise from peers like KISS drummer Eric Singer, who described him as “the heart and soul of AC/DC.”
Born Thomas Lee Bass, Tommy Lee is an American musician and founding member of the popular heavy metal band Mötley Crüe. Having received his first set of drum sticks when he was just four years old, Lee’s passion for music clearly started from an early age.
Known for his gimmicky drum solos — which feature a revolving and spinning drumset — Lee has undoubtedly become an icon in his own right, as well as the epitome of what it means to be a rockstar.
Regarded as one of the greatest drummers of our time, Steve Jordan was only a teenager when he first played in Stevie Wonder’s band. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, Jordan was a member of bands for television shows including Late Night With David Letterman and Saturday Night Live — in which he was the drummer for John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers tour during the late ’70s.
Since the mid-1980s, Jordan has been a member of the X-Pensive Winos, the side project of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. In fact, Jordan and Richards have been producing and songwriting partners on many of Richards’s solo works.
Mick Avory is a London-born musician who gained popularity as the longtime drummer and percussionist of English rock band the Kinks. Avory joined them shortly after their formation in 1964 and remained with them for 20 years, until 1984, when he left amid creative friction with guitarist Dave Davies although they later settled their differences.
Known for a simple yet sharp drumming style, Avory had always been sensitive to the needs of composer and bandleader Ray Davies’ songs. A few years after leaving the group, in 1990, Avory was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Born Maureen Ann, Moe Tucker is an American musician and singer best known for having been the drummer for the New York City-based rock band the Velvet Underground. Throughout the years, Tucker became known for her unconventional style of playing in which she would drum with mallets rather than drumsticks.
She’d use a simplified drum kit of tom-toms, a snare drum, and an upturned bass drum. According to Lou Reed — guitarist, singer, and principal songwriter for the band — “I think Maureen Tucker is a genius drummer. Her style of drumming, that she invented, is amazing.”
Michael Shrieve is an American drummer, as well as a percussionist and composer who gained worldwide prominence as the drummer of the hit rock band Santana — whom he played with on their first seven albums from 1969 to 1974. During this time, he got to perform at 1969’s Woodstock when he was just 20 years old!
There, he undeniably made a name for himself with his performance being described as “electrifying.” Considering that the San Francisco native was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 for his work with Santana, there’s no doubt that he’s one of the greatest drummers of all time.
Now 71 years old, Greg Errico is a musician and record producer from sunny California. He’s best known as the drummer for the popular and influential psychedelic soul/funk band Sly and the Family Stone.
As a member of the band, Errico played at Woodstock was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. Errico has also spent his time collaborating with icons such as David Bowie, Santana, the Grateful Dead, and the Jerry Garcia Band. Today, he continues to play, produce, and tour with The Family Stone.
Born and raised in Michigan, Meg White is an American drummer especially known for her work alongside Jack White in the Detroit rock duo The White Stripes. The band quickly became a Detroit underground favorite before going on to gain both national and international fame.
Known for her “primal” drumming style — which has drawn praise and criticism — Meg has been nominated for various accolades. In fact, she has even received four Grammy Awards. Although her musical influences are wide and varied, Meg’s favorite artist and main inspiration is Bob Dylan.
Here we have Kenny Aronoff, an American drummer who has been a sideman for many bands both live and in the studio including for John Mellencamp, with whom he worked from 1980 to 1996.
Aronoff developed a passion for music from an early age, he studied classical, jazz, and every style in between — creating a base that evolved him into the multifaceted drummer he is today. Due to his distinctive style, Aronoff has landed endorsements and celebrity branding by several musical equipment companies.
58-year-old Chad Smith is an American musician who has been the drummer of Red Hot Chili Peppers since 1988, although he also plays for the hard rock supergroup Chickenfoot as well as the all-instrumental outfit Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats.
Throughout the years, Smith has become an extremely influential drummer with a style that’s primarily a mixture of hard-hitting and loud rock — along with groovy, tight, and driving funk. With that said, there’s really no doubt Smith’s talent helped to induct Red Hot Chili Peppers into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
Mick Fleetwood — best known as the drummer, co-founder, and de facto leader of the hit rock band Fleetwood Mac — has undeniably made waves in the music industry throughout the years, so much so that the British musician was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Mick’s unorthodox drumming style has been described as “casual, nontechnical and inexplicable.” Aside from having an extremely successful career with Fleetwood Mac, Mick has enjoyed a wonderful solo career. He has also published written works and tried his hand at acting.
Born Harold Simon Belsky, Hal Blaine recorded with some of the greatest artists of all time, making his career a truly memorable one. Some of the artists that Blaine partnered up with include Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Elvis, and the Supremes.
Hal Blaine also holds the record for being the most recorded drummer in history, topping off at about 35,000 different songs. To this day, he’s still considered one of the most epic drummers to ever exist.
When Neil Peart came in for his Rush audition in 1974, his future bandmates likely had no idea that they were in the presence of true greatness.
But by the end, their jaws had hit the floor as was described by guitarist Alex Lifeson who said, “We were so blown away by Neil’s playing. It was very Keith Moon-like, very active, and he hit his drums so hard.” Rush’s most recent work was released in 2012 and it’s actually considered to be some of their best.
Ginger Baker was known for two things — having an enormous amount of talent that would make any musician jealous, and having a massive temper that would make any Hollywood primadonna look on in shock.
He clashed constantly with his fellow Cream bandmates but he was still able to captivate the rock world with his incredible virtuosity and face-melting solos. Even though Cream has long since broken up, Baker is not often seen far from a drumset today.
Said Jane’s Addiction’s Stephen Perkins of him, “Keith Moon, he’s really orchestrated, like a timpani player or a cymbal player in an orchestra. He’s making you know that this is an important part, even though it might not be exactly at the end of the four bars. I love that drama, that theater and I love the emotion.”
Keith was known for refusing to play drum solos, and instead preferred that the drums remain as the Who’s lead instrument.
It’s fair to say that from the moment Led Zeppelin released its first album, John Bonham would forever change the world of drumming. The sound was absolutely jaw-dropping, with Jimmy Page laughing about how “everyone was laying bets that Bonzo was using two bass drums, but he only had one.”
Dave Grohl sums up the experience many amateur drummers had when first hearing Bonham saying, “I spent years in my bedroom…listening to Bonham’s drums and trying to emulate his swing or his behind-the-beat swagger or his speed or power.”