SKF NOTE: When I was a high schooler, Down Beat was about the only available music magazine, with its focus on jazz. But that was okay. Jazz drummers were still the standard by which all popular music drummers were measured.
This list is from the 34th Annual DB Readers Poll of December 25, 1969. That banner year for rock music introduced classic albums by Led Zeppelin, Santana, The Rolling Stones, The Who, King Crimson, Flying Burrito Brothers, The Beatles, and Crosby, Stills, & Nash. We start to see a few rock drummers emerging among DB readers’ favorite drummers at the close of 1969.
In 1969 I’m sure I was listening to Ginger Baker, Bobby Colomby, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Tony Williams, and Max Roach. I’m not sure how familiar I was in 1969 with the other drummers on this list. I knew many of their names. It’s likely, without knowing it, I heard some of them on NYC jazz radio stations. But I didn’t have much money for collecting albums in 1969.
All that changed very soon. Discovering all these drummers, playing in many musical genres, has been a pleasurable part of my life.