Two legendary and outstanding Jamaican musicians, Carlton Barrett and Sly Dunbar have been featured among the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time — a list compiled by rock bible, the Rolling Stones Magazine.
Coming in high on the list at number 29, is the late Carlton Barrett, while Sly sits at number 65. Interestingly, in February last year both men were also named by the website totaldrumsets.com among ‘The 100 Most Influential Drummers Ever’.
In its March 31 2016 article, Rolling Stones had this to say of the extraordinary Carlton Barrett: “Nothing sounds more certifiably reggae than Carlton “Carlie” Barrett’s tumbling tom-toms followed by the high, whip-cracking snare that launched a thousand tracks. Arguably the single most influential musician in reggae history, Barrett popularized the music’s signature “one drop” rhythm in the Wailers and Bob Marley’s solo band. The “Field Marshal” and his bassist brother Aston “Family Man” Barrett decelerated rocksteady’s rhythm into the locked-in slow grooves that came to define classic roots reggae. His dry drum sound — heard in tracks like “Duppy Conqueror, “Soul Rebel” and “Small Axe” — and triplet-feel hi-hat served as a tractor beam for skanking fans until his 1987 murder at age 36. “Because drums are from the slavery days and from Africa, it comes from a lot of history,” he told Modern Drummer. “[T]he good reggae drummers make playing a spiritual experience.”
Placing number 65 on the list is a musician/producer who is no stranger to the highest accolades, Lowell “Sly” Fillmore Dunbar, best known as one half of the prolific Jamaican rhythm section and reggae production duo Sly and Robbie.
In lauding Sly, Rolling Stones declared: “Nearly ubiquitous reggae drummer Lowell Fillmore Dunbar played with everyone and, due to how frequently his riddims have been sampled, is quite possibly the world’s most recorded musician. Nicknamed for his devotion to Sly Stone, Dunbar recorded his first track, “Night Doctor,” with the Upsetters at age 15. His 1972 introduction to bassist Robbie Shakespeare led to a life-long working relationship, notably in Peter Tosh’s and Black Uhuru’s bands as well as the Rolling Stones’ 1978 Some Girls tour. Sly and Robbie translated dub reggae to the stage better than anyone. “Me and Robbie didn’t realize what we were doing until Jamaican music went dubwise and the bass and drum would come right in your face,” he explained. The distance between Carlton Barrett’s relaxed swing and Dunbar’s fierce metronomic playing marks the place where roots reggae evolved into its dancehall successor.”
Topping the list is John Bonham, followed by Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, Neil Peart and Hal Blaine, rounding out the Top 5.
Of Bonham, Rolling Stones stated: “On the very first cut of the very first Led Zeppelin LP, John Bonham changed rock drumming forever. Years later, Jimmy Page was still amused by the disorienting impact that “Good Times Bad Times,” with its jaw-dropping bass-drum hiccups, had on listeners: “Everyone was laying bets that Bonzo was using two bass drums, but he only had one.” Heavy, lively, virtuosic and deliberate, that performance laid out the terrain Bonham’s artful clobbering would conquer before his untimely death in 1980. At his most brutally paleolithic he never bludgeoned dully, at his most rhythmically dumbfounding he never stooped to unnecessary wankery, and every night on tour he dodged both pitfalls with his glorious stampede through “Moby Dick.”