20 Most Recorded Studio Drummers of All Time

February 6, 2024

As a drummer who explores studio recordings and studio drummers, I decided to do research and come up with 20 most recorded studio drummers of all time. 

I scraped all the information I could find on allmusic.com to find out who is the most recorded drummer, and according to the credits I found on this website, here is the list I ended up with.

This list ncludes only studio albums, singles, and movie scores.

Stay with me to find out who are the best studio drummers of all time.

greatest drummers of all time

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1. Jim Keltner - The most recorded drummer of all time

Recordings: 975+

studio drummer

James Lee Keltner is our winner for the most recorded studio drummer of all time. 

Keltner is born on April 27th in 1942, and is known for his session works. Many agree that Keltner is the leading session drummer in America.

Keltner worked with almost everybody in the music business, and every VIP from the scene had a chance to play along or collaborate with Keltner.

Jim is known for his work on Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and Across the Universe (2007).

Many say that it cannot be counted how many sessions Keltner has performed. 

Still, the definitive score of original releases from Keltner is fantastic and a record of 975 direct releases.

2. Steve Gadd

Recordings: 663+

most recorded drummers

Stephen Kendall Gadd is one of the most influential drummers able to reach even the youngest artists of this time.

Gadd is considered one of the most elite session musicians.

Steve Gadd’s jazz band Blicher Hemmer Gadd recently released the film “The Concert in Eddis Old Car Workshop.” It is the second documentary in a row about collaboration and about the joy of creating together.

Gadd holds second place with 663 audio contents as singles, albums, and movie scores with direct involvement.

3. Al Jackson Jr.

Recordings: 659+

best studio drummers

Albert J. Jackson Jr was one of the dominant session musicians working for Stax Records and produced their instrumentals for Booker T. & the M.G.’s. 

Al Jackson Jr. was put in the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015. He was dubbed as the Human Timekeeper because of his fantastic drumming skills.

Al is also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of Booker T. & the M.G.’s in 1992. 

He left tremendous work behind him for all upcoming generations and worked with the most prominent names of that time.  The total score of 659 individual releases with Al’s signature.

4. Max Roach

Recordings: 580+

most recorded studio drummer

Maxwell Lemuel Roach is one of the oldest legends of the twentieth century and was born on January the 10th in 1924, and died on August 16th in 2007. 

Max was an American jazz musician and a true pioneer of bebop.

He is considered one of the most influential drummers of all time because he played other styles and genres almost equally well.

The biggest names with who Max pair his sticks are:

Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Abbey Lincoln, Dinah Washington, Billy Eckstine, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Eric Dolphy, and Booker Little, and Charles Mingus,

Roach was inducted into the DownBeat Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1992. 

He composed the film score for “Black Sun” and performs an excerpt with the M’Boom Percussion Ensemble. 

In all his Studio work, he managed to gather 580 releases with his name on them.

6. Jeff Porcaro

Recordings: 570+

studio drumming

Jeff was born on  April 1st in 1954, and passed on August 5th in 1992.

Jeff was the most known for his drumming, but also he was active as a songwriter and record producer.

He is most known as a drummer for the bend TOTO but, Jeff is known for working as a session musician who played on hundreds of albums and sessions.

All members of TOTO agree that Porcaro left a genuine mark in the songs and created many loops that became part of drumming hall of fame.

All those interested in more detail about Porcaro’s life and doings should look up a book called It’s About Time Jeff Porcaro The Man And His Music to find all the information about his biography.

Together with TOTO and all other sessions he recorded 570 releases in singles, albums, and movie scores.

6. Vinnie Colaiuta

Recordings: 565+

best studio drummers

Vinnie Colaiuta is born on February 5th in 1956, and is known as an American drummer who was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1996.

His astonishing career begins at the age of 7 with his first drum kit. 

Somewhere in 1981, Vinnie become a session musician for Frank Zappa.

Colaiuta worked with many jazz musicians worldwide, to name a few: Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Buell Neidlinger, and the Buddy Rich Big Band.

Through Vinnie’s fantastic career, he worked on 565 original releases and moved just one tier in front of Paul Leim.

7. Paul Leim

Recordings: 563+

nashville studio drummer

Paul is a known Nashville drummer and world-known session musician.

In his early years of playing he was noticed by a producer from Robin Hood Brians studios who complimented Pauls’s playing next to a metronome.

Paul had a metronome in his head, which is what was producer pointing out for junior Paul.

Pauls’s vast participation in many projects brought him a wide variety of rich collaboration with many different names and collected 546 individual recordings.

8. John Jr. Robinson

Recordings: 546+

greatest studio drummer

John Robinson is an American drummer known as one of the most recorded drummers in history with a fantastic drumming CV.

John was born on December 29th in 1954, and is known best for his work with producer Quincy Jones.

He played on Michael Jackson’s multi-platinum Off the Wall album and the charity single We Are the World.

Rolling Stone magazine expressed their feelings about John and put him on the number 81 in their list of the top 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time.

He collaborated with know names like Rufus and Chaka Kahn, with whom he was on the road for over ten months.

JR has played drums for many movie scores. One of the most known are: 2009’s The Hangover interpreting a score by Christophe Beck Grand Canyon (1991), My Cousin Vinny (1992), Space Jam (1996), That Thing You Do! (1996),  Independence Day (1996), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and more.

Jr. Robinson played on 546 recordings.

9. Elvin Jones

Recordings: 528+

jazz studio drummers

Jones is born on September 9th, in1927, and passed away on May the 18th in 2004.

Elvin left behind essential work on jazz and imprint an unerasable mark in the world of jazz music.

After his servings in the army from 1946 to 1949, Jones moved to New York City in 1955 and worked as a sideman for Charles Mingus, Teddy Charles, Bud Powell, and Miles Davis.

Besides significant music session work for many famous names, Jones acted in several movies. He appeared as the bad guy Job Cain in the 1971 musical Western film Zachariah in which he performed a drum solo after winning a sensational saloon gunfight.

By the time of 2004. when Jones died, the calculation is that Jones left behind him the same number of authentic recordings as Roy Haynes with 528 releases.

10. Roy Haynes

Recordings: 528+

Who are the best jazz drummers?

Here we have one of the most recorded drummer of all time in Jazz.

Roy Owen Haynes is born on March 13th in 1925.  He played many styles like swing, bebop, jazz fusion, avant-garde jazz and is considered a veteran of modern jazz drumming.

In the fifties, he got the nickname “Snap Crackle” due to his twirling loops.

Throughout his career, Roy has earned many awards and grammies. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1999.

Haynes got attention from all around the world. Every famous jazz orchestra wished to play along with Roy or at least to leave his seal on recordings of their own.

So, playing his drums has earned him 528 individual records as singles, albums, and movie scores — a well-deserved place among the most recorded studio drummers of all time.

11. Harvey Mason

Recordings: 506+

Who played drums on chameleon?

Harvey William Mason is an outstanding American jazz drummer known as a record producer, but Harvey is most known as a drummer for band Fourplay.

Harvey was born on February 22nd in 1947. He spent his childhood in Atlantic City where he was attending Atlantic City High School.

Harvey, among associates, holds a tag as on of the most recorded and in-demand drummers of all-time. 

It was fascinating the number of names that Harvey has collaborated with, to name a few: Barbra Streisand, James Brown, Herbie Hancock, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and many more.

Throughout his career, he participated in various musical sessions for many artists and been able to collect an independent score of 506 audio releases.

12. Peter Erskine

Recordings: 479+

Who are the top 10 drummers of all time?

Peter was born in New Jersey, and at the age of four, he already showed a lot of interest in percussion instruments. 

Peter’s first steps into the professional world of drummers were back in 1972 when he entered the Stan Kenton Orchestra.

The first mega tour he done was in the U.S. with Chick Corea in 1992 

While Peter was touring he continued to work as a session drummer and a professor at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California.

A fantastic multi-task many would say.

Peter Erskine participated in great bands like  Weather Report and Steps Ahead. 

To these days, Peter managed to record a total of 479 original audio releases.

13. Matt Chamberlain

Recordings: 435+

Who are the greatest drummers of all time?

At the age of 15, Matthew Matt Chamberlain learned to play drums. He was taking the most valuable first-step lessons from David Garibaldi from the band Tower of Power.

Chamberlain was born on April 17th in 1967. He spent his teenage days perfecting his drumming skills.

At one moment, he left college with his wishes to become a professional drummer and head for Dallas, Texas, where he played with various bands, often taking part at local gigs.

After many years of playing with strong names of that time, Matt reached the names like  David Bowie, Fiona Apple, The Wallflowers, Macy Gray, Natalie Merchant, Tori Amos, Garbage, and others. 

In his career, Matt also had an enormous affinity toward music scores for all TV releases.

He became the music director for More Music at The Moore Theatre in Seattle, Washington. 

He left behind him a significant score as a session musician with 435 recordings.

14. Jack DeJohnette

Recordings: 420+

Who is the best jazz drummer?

As we go further with jazz giants, it is time to mention Jack DeJohnette. He was born on August 9th in 1942 in Chicago, Illinois.

DeJohnette made a significant impact to the Jazz world but especially on the American jazz culture.

He was known for his participation with many names like Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Charles Lloyd, Freddie Hubbard, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, John Abercrombie, Alice Coltrane, and many others.

DeJohnette played R&B, hard bop, and avant-garde music in his hometown of Chicago and inspired many artists with his unique grooves.

Jack DeJohnette was a full-time session musician.

Jack had a tremendous activity at drum recording sessions and was able to release 420 unique releases in his career as singles, albums, and movie soundtracks.

15. Buddy Rich

Recordings: 411+

Who is the best drummer in the world?

Buddy Rich was born on September 30th in 1917 and died on April 2nd in 1987.  He started his legendary journey at the age of two in Bruklin.

The first time he turned to jazz was in 1937, working with names like Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, and Harry James.

In his whole drumming life, Buddy recorded 411 independent works in the form of singles, albums, and movie scores.

With this much dedication to recordings, Buddy deserved his place among the most recorded drummers of all time.

16. Tony Williams

Recordings: 408+

Who is Tony Williams?

Tony Williams was born in Chicago, but he grew up in Boston, where he spent adulthood.

Tony has a fascinating origin of African, Portuguese, and Chinese descent.

His outstanding knowledge of Jazz skills led Tony to collaborate with one of the most impactful names, such as Miles Davis.

Williams is a jazz fusion pioneer who succeeded in recording 408 pieces in the form of singles, albums, and soundtracks for the silver screen.

17. Larry Mullen

Recordings: 391+

Is Larry Mullen a good drummer?

Lawrence Joseph Mullen Jr. has the label as co-founder of the mega-popular band U2.

Lawrence is born on the 31st of October in 1961. He is known in the drummer’s world for his war-style drum playing, which is a legacy of playing snare-splashing beats with marching bands in his childhood 

Cooperation with his bandmate and a friend Adam Clayton on a “Theme from Mission: Impossible” was a big standout project and tremendous success.

Mullen has come into possession of 22 Grammy Awards throughout his career and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2016, Rolling Stone magazine has placed Mullen as the 96th-greatest drummer of all time.

Outstanding 391 realizations speak enough of dedication of Mullen.

18. Bernard "Pretty" Purdie

Recordings: 386+

Who has Bernard Purdie played with?

Purdie was born in June 11th in 1939.  He is American drummer known for the ‘’Purdie shuffle’’, which uses triplets against a half-time backbeat.

This amazing drummer was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013.

A total of 386 original releases confirms the status of Purdie.

Soul Drums is the first big project in which he was involved.

This Album had an excellent audience and critics response. The single  “Funky Donkey” from the same album reached No. 87 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967.

The soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Lialeh (1973) is one of the biggest realizations in the world of movie scores ever done by Purdie.

In the ’90s, Purdie collaborated and participated in The 3B’s, with Bross Townsend and Bob Cunningham. 

19. Kenny Aronoff

Recordings: 357+

Is Kenny Aronoff a good drummer?

Kenny Aronoff is an American drummer widely known for his part in the form of replacements and sometimes the only suitable substitute. 

Kenny was born on March 7th in 1953, in Albany, New York.

With astounding number of 357 recording releases, he is one of the most recorded drummers in rock music.

For Kenny, it is essential to emphasize that he is the owner of Uncommon Studios L.A, located in Los Angeles.

20. Hal Blaine

Recordings: 342+

When did Hal Blaine die?

Hal Blaine is born on February 5th in 1929, as Harold Simon Belsky’s. He has been an active session musician until his last breath, on March 11th in 2019.

For that time, Blaine recorded 342 unique releases in the form of singles, albums, and movie scores.

He recorded many albums for Phil Spector at Hollywood’s Gold Star Studios.

He was part of the legendaty Wrecking Crew. 

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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  1. What’s Eddie Bayers’ numbers? Floored he’s not on this list.

  2. “John JR Robinson

    This is very interesting. I know that these numbers, for all of these drummers, are not right. I have played on over 3106 titles. This is by no means a competitive pissing match and am deeply humbled to be included in this group!”

  3. Where does Roger Hawkens from muscle Shoals al rank in this group?

  4. Paul Leims family is so very proud of him. He is my cousin. My Uncle Carl was his father.

  5. How is Larry Mullen a studio drummer? He’s been U2’s only drummer since the beginning, having started the band himself. Nick Mason likely has his number beat if you’re including band drummers.

    No way is Hal Blaine’s actual number that low. If you do the math, that’s like 7 a year. You have to know that’s wrong. I’d bet twenty bucks he’s recorded more than Jeff Porcaro. Try again.

    • Hi, Rich, thanks for the comment, the list is made by taking all the credits from allmusic.com, find Larry there and you’ll see numbers are correct.

      • As per my recent post (yet to appear) the credits on Allmusic lead to inaccurate figures. Art Garfunkel being credited as a composer on Simon & Garfunkel albums for example.

        The vast majority of Larry Mullen’s credits on Allmusic are as a composer NOT as a drummer.

  6. Gary Mallaber left out for some reason?

  7. According to James GDsen he is the most recorded drummer.i am a huge harvey mason fan and Roy Haynes and Buddy Williams

  8. […] to an interview with Gig magazine published in 1978, renowned session drummer Bernard Purdie claimed in the summer of 1963 that he had overdubbed drums for 21 Beatles […]

  9. […] Green Day and John Mayer to Maroon 5 and the ’50s-’60s medley. According to Ficalora, session drummers are the most commonly heard with four different time signatures. There is a country straight […]

  10. The Hal Blaine figure is clearly inaccurate. Allmusic.com is a good site, but it’s way adrift in some cases.

    I collated the Steve Gadd discography on Wikipedia and their figure is very close. What I found doing his discography is that there were errors on-line. For example Steve Gadd was credited to a few albums he didn’t play on because there was another drummer called Steve Gadd.

    If you just count credits on the Allmusic site you won’t get an accurate figure. Larry Mullen for example is credited on some recordings as a ‘composer’ rather than as a drummer. So just extracting a count from their database won’t be accurate.

    A better example of how inaccurate it can be is to look at Art Garfunkel. He is credited as composer on Paul Simon’s songs, which is nonsense.

    I the top 20 is probably pretty close overall, but the order is way out in many cases. Larry Mullen ahead of Bernard Purdie – NO.

  11. […] be salvaged rather than wasted. As a result, if you want the best results, make sure you find the best session drummer you can […]

  12. Interesting discussion, any two drummers will differ in their opinions of course. Speaking about Australian drummers for a moment – Graham Morgan is widely regarded as the most-recorded drummer here. He is featured in my book, Stick Figures, which you can see at http://www.studiodrummerpro.com
    Anyway, we can applaud all the great drummers for their skill, even going back to the pioneers in the early recording days, such as Gene Krupa (remember they told him not to bring his bass drum in to the session, because it would make the stylus jump out of the vinyl groove!!).
    David ‘Stix’ Hicks

  13. wow such a good post thanks a lot its really usefull

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