A list of the "10 Craziest Drummers Ever," complete with illos

At Esquire, Miles Raymer has a top-ten list of the Craziest Drummers Ever. I'm not normally a fan of listicles, but this is more than mere linkbait. And the illustrations by Jeremy Wheeler are fantastic! Above, his Keith Moon.

There's no evidence that Keith Moon of The Who provided the inspiration for the Muppet drummer Animal's notable incivility, but it makes enough sense that the rumor's been going around for decades and doesn't show any sign of going away. His drumming talents were immense, and his capabilities for wreaking havoc were even greater. He one-upped Pete Townshend's guitar-smashing by periodically rigging his kit with explosives and detonating them at unexpected moments. He was the first person in recorded history to throw a television out of a hotel-room window. He once accidentally drove over and killed his chauffeur, which is sad and terrible, and yet also about the most perfect embodiment of the collision of vast wealth and an unchecked id that Moon embodied, and which generations of rock stars have tried to achieve.
The rest of the list is here.



  1. If someone wastes their talent and ability by choking on their own vomit after a liquor and junk food binge… It makes me not want to celebrate or iconicize their “craziness”.

  2. I know it’s foolish of me to expect Esquire to know anything about music, but this just reads like the usual isolationist Rolling Stone nostalgia-worship. All safe, predictable choices. 

    1. So… who would you add? (Pointing out how bad a list is with out suggesting an amendment isn’t really making a point at all.)

    1. Gene Krupa? Dave Lombardo? The guy from Danzig (at least in Danzig’s early solo years, don’t know if he’s still in the band)? The guy from Helmet (of the Meantime era)? Or about a thousand other crazier drummers if this author knew anything about music or had done any research whatsoever.

      1. Never listened to Danzig, Helmet, or Slayer. Did Krupa have a rep as being crazy? I’ve never heard that, but you’re probably right. Topper wasn’t nuts, just strung out, from what I’ve read. While we’re talking obscure, how about Ted from the DKs? Or Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez from Oingo Boingo? Keith and Ginger, on the other hand, are/were certifiable. They eclipse the rest, imo. It’s a pretty weak list.

      2. John Stanier (of Helmet, later Tomahawk and Battles) is an excellent drummer but he doesn’t act crazy at all. Neil Peart and Buddy Rich are conspicuously absent from this list though.

  3. I feel like Robert Wyatt deserves an honorable mention here, even though he survived the crazy.

    1.  Totally crazy on stage. Rock solid IRL. Even managed to self-treat a years long suicidal episode after two consecutive personal tragedies. Returned after four years to help write Vapor Trails. Returned to touring when he was terrified to do so and learned to love it again.

      Pretty much the opposite of a crazy drummer.

  4. Wow, kind of astounded that nowhere in that list or in the comments here or the article is Mick Fleetwood mentioned. I had always heard he was the inspiration for Animal anyway.

  5. Ginger Baker… once took a bottle thrown from the audience at Glastonbury full on in the face and never missed a beat… I know, I witnessed it… the bottle broke his nose as well, although it’s pretty difficult to tell as his nose was already well battered.

  6. Anyone who has even been in or worked with bands knows that drummer and craziness are kinda… Well, what I’m trying to say is… In any band, you want to find the loose screw? Chances are, it’s on the drum kit.

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