Black Sabbath Drummer – Complete Timeline

September 8, 2023

When you hear the thunderous beats behind iconic tracks like “War Pigs” or “Iron Man”, you’re diving deep into the legacy of the Black Sabbath drummer. 

But who is the force behind those legendary rhythms? 

Over the years, Black Sabbath has seen a carousel of nine drummers, each bringing a unique flair to the band’s monumental sound. 

Dive in as we unravel the beats, the stories, and the men who shaped the percussive heart of this rock titan.

The Evolution of Black Sabbath’s Drumming Sound

From the inception of Black Sabbath, the drumming has been as iconic as Ozzy’s haunting vocals. Bill Ward was the foundation. His jazz-infused rock beats in tracks like “War Pigs” set the tone. 

Vinny Appice brought a heavier, more straightforward rock beat. Listen to “The Mob Rules,” and you’ll hear the power and precision he introduced.

With his Rainbow background, Cozy Powell brought a hard-hitting, arena-rock style. His footwork on the double bass was nothing short of impressive. 

But Bobby Rondinelli introduced a blend of classic rock with a touch of 90s grunge. It was a refreshing change, evident in tracks like “I Witness.”

Let’s embark on a rhythmic journey, exploring how each drummer’s style and technique shaped the band’s sound.


The Eight Drummers of Black Sabbath

  1. Bill Ward (1968–1980, 1983, 1994, 1997–2012)
  2. Vinny Appice (1980–1982, 1992)
  3. Eric Singer (1985 – 1987)
  4. Bev Bevan (1983–1984, 1987)
  5. Cozy Powell (1988–1991)
  6. Bobby Rondinelli (1993–1994)
  7. Tommy Clufetos (2012–2017)
  8. Brad Wilk (2013)
Black Sabbath Drummer

Bill Ward (1968–1980, 1983, 1994, 1997–2012)

Bill Ward, the original heartbeat of Black Sabbath, was more than just a drummer. 

He was a storyteller. His early influence was rooted in jazz, which he masterfully blended with the emerging heavy metal sound of the late ’60s.

Ward’s signature drumming style was a cocktail of raw power and intricate finesse. 

He had this uncanny ability to shift from delicate cymbal touches to thunderous tom rolls, all within a single track. It wasn’t just about keeping time but about creating an atmosphere.

For an authentic taste of his genius, there are a few essential tracks you shouldn’t miss. “War Pigs” showcases his dynamic range, while “Fairies Wear Boots” is a testament to his jazz-rock fusion prowess. 

And then there’s “Hand of Doom,” a rhythmic journey that perfectly encapsulates Ward’s contribution to the Sabbath sound. 

vinny appice

Vinny Appice (1980–1982, 1992)

Stepping into the shoes of a legend like Bill Ward? No easy feat. But Vinny Appice didn’t just fill those shoes; he brought a new pair to the party. 

 transition from Ward to Appice was like shifting gears in a muscle car. While Ward’s style was jazz-infused and atmospheric, Appice slammed the pedal with a more direct, hard-hitting approach.

This change in sound was evident. Appice’s drumming was tighter, more in-your-face, and had this raw energy that was unmistakably ’80s metal. It was a fresh take, yet it retained that classic Sabbath essence.

For those itching to dive into Appice’s standout moments, “The Mob Rules” is a must-listen. The track is a testament to his power and precision. 

Then there’s “Voodoo,” where his rhythmic patterns add a dark, pulsating undertone. It’s a different flavor of Sabbath, but oh, how it rocks!

drummer from black sabath

Eric Singer (1985 – 1987)

When Eric Singer took the drum throne for Black Sabbath, the band was in a phase of musical exploration. With his versatile background, Singer was the perfect fit for this era. 

Known for his adaptability, he could swing from hard rock to glam, and his time with Sabbath was no exception.

His style was a blend of technical prowess and raw energy. While he didn’t have the longest tenure with the band, Singer’s influence was palpable. 

He brought a certain tightness and modern flair to the tracks, a slight departure from the more freewheeling styles of his predecessors.

Tracks from this era, like “Seventh Star,” showcase Singer’s ability to meld with the band’s evolving sound. 

His drumming was a nod to the past and a hint of the future, a brief but memorable chapter in the epic saga of Black Sabbath.

black sabath drummers

Bev Bevan (1983–1984, 1987)

Bev Bevan might have had a fleeting dance with Black Sabbath, but boy, did he leave an impression. 

Coming from a background with Electric Light Orchestra, Bevan brought a touch of classic rock ‘n’ roll to the heavy metal giants. His style was a delightful mix of old-school rock beats with the heavier undertones that Sabbath was known for.

His brief tenure was like a comet: short-lived but brilliant. Bevan’s drumming was less about reinventing the wheel and more about adding his unique spin. There was a certain groove, a swing to his beats that was unmistakably Bevan.

For those eager to tap into the Bevan era, tracks like “Born Again” and “Digital Bitch” are where it’s at. They encapsulate his style, energy, and undeniable contribution to the ever-evolving sound of Black Sabbath.

terry chimes

Terry Chimes (1987)

Terry Chimes was a brief yet intriguing stitch in the vast tapestry of Black Sabbath’s drumming legacy. Known primarily for his punk-infused beats with The Clash, Chimes’ foray into the world of Sabbath was unexpected, to say the least.

His time with the band might have been short-lived, but it was far from forgettable. Chimes brought a raw, unfiltered energy, a punk-rock rebellion that was both refreshing and audacious. It was a departure from Sabbath’s typical sound, yet it had its own charm.

For a taste of Chimes’ unique flavor, “The Shining” is a track that stands out. The song captures his distinct drumming style, a blend of punk rhythms with the heavy metal backbone of Black Sabbath. It’s a fleeting glimpse but one that leaves a lasting impression.

cozy powell

Cozy Powell (1988–1991)

Enter Cozy Powell, a drummer whose name resonates with reverence in rock circles. With a pedigree that includes stints with Rainbow and Whitesnake, Powell’s arrival heralded a new chapter for Black Sabbath.

The era of Powell was marked by hard-hitting, arena-rock drumming. His style was grand, theatrical, and unapologetically powerful. 

Every beat, every fill, was a statement. Powell didn’t just play the drums; he commanded them, adding a larger-than-life aura to the band’s performances.

For those with an ear for Powell’s magic, “Headless Cross” and “Eternal Idol” are essential listening. 

These tracks showcase his drumming prowess and encapsulate the energy and dynamism he brought to Black Sabbath’s sound. Dive in, and let the rhythm take you on a Cozy journey.

Bobby Rondinelli

Bobby Rondinelli (1993–1994)

When Bobby Rondinelli stepped behind the kit for Black Sabbath, he brought with him a fresh wave of energy. 

Known for his work with Rainbow and Blue Öyster Cult, Rondinelli was no stranger to the grand stages of rock.

Rondinelli’s stint with Sabbath was characterized by a blend of classic rock beats and a touch of 90s grunge undertones. 

His drumming was both a nod to the band’s legacy and a reflection of the changing musical landscape. It was a fusion of old-school charm with new-age vigor.

For a deep dive into Rondinelli’s contributions, “Cross Purposes” is the album to spin. 

Tracks like “Virtual Death” and “Evil Eye” stand out, allowing listeners to appreciate his unique drumming style truly. It’s a brief chapter in the Sabbath story, but one that’s rich in rhythm and resonance.

tommy clufetos

Tommy Clufetos (2012–2017)

As Black Sabbath’s timeline approached its twilight, in came Tommy Clufetos, a drummer with a resume boasting names like Rob Zombie and Ozzy Osbourne. 

His arrival signaled the modern era of Black Sabbath drumming, a blend of the band’s iconic past with a fresh, contemporary edge.

Clufetos’ style was a powerful concoction of classic heavy metal beats and modern rock flair. 

His drumming was both aggressive and articulate, a testament to his vast experience and adaptability. Every performance was a rhythmic spectacle, celebrating Sabbath’s legacy with a modern twist.

For those eager to immerse in the Clufetos experience, the “13” album is a treasure trove. Tracks like “God Is Dead?” and “End of the Beginning” are not just songs; they’re rhythmic masterpieces. 

With Clufetos on the drums, Black Sabbath’s final years were electrifying.

brad wilk

Brad Wilk (2013)

When you think of Brad Wilk, the immediate association might be with the raw energy of Rage Against the Machine or the groovy vibes of Audioslave. 

But in a surprising twist, Wilk found himself behind the drum kit for Black Sabbath’s 2013 album, “13”.

His involvement blended old-school Sabbath heaviness with a sprinkle of modern rock rhythm. 

Wilk’s drumming style, characterized by its solid grooves and punchy beats, added a fresh dimension to the band’s iconic sound. 

It was a fusion of the classic and contemporary, a testament to Black Sabbath’s legacy and Wilk’s versatility.

Tracks like “God Is Dead?” and “Age of Reason” are prime examples of this collaboration. 

They showcase the band’s return to form and Wilk’s ability to adapt and shine in diverse musical landscapes. In the grand tapestry of Black Sabbath’s drumming history, Brad Wilk’s chapter might be brief, but it’s undeniably impactful.

FAQ Section

Who was the original drummer for Black Sabbath?

The original drummer for Black Sabbath was Bill Ward. He played a pivotal role in shaping the band’s early sound and is considered one of the founding members.

Which Black Sabbath drummer had the longest tenure with the band?

Bill Ward had the longest tenure as a drummer with Black Sabbath. He was also a founding member and played with the band from 1968 to 2012.

Are there any albums where multiple drummers played?

Yes, Black Sabbath’s history is rich with various lineup changes. However, typically, albums feature one primary drummer. There might be instances where session drummers or guest musicians contributed to specific tracks, but albums with multiple leading drummers are rare. Diving deep into each album’s credits is essential to identify any such nuances.


Black Sabbath, a titan in the rock world, has been defined not just by its haunting vocals and powerful guitar riffs but also by the rhythmic heartbeat provided by its drummers. 

From Bill Ward’s foundational jazz-infused beats to Tommy Clufetos’ modern heavy metal flair, each drummer has etched a unique mark on the band’s legacy. 

Their contributions, spanning decades and various musical eras, have ensured that the drumming sound of Black Sabbath remains as iconic and diverse as the band itself. 

As we celebrate these rhythmic maestros, it’s evident that the beat of Black Sabbath’s heart is a compilation of these talented individuals’ passion and prowess.

Denis Loncaric
Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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