Top 7 Female Drummers of All Time

Updated on February 8, 2018
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Female drummers are almost an oxymoron. Good female drummers definitely are – at least according to top drummers charts scattered around the net.

As a young girl interested in music, I never considered drums as one of the means to express myself. I had no real-life examples in the drumming world to which I could compare myself to, or strive to become one day. Drumming wasn’t considered feminine, and comparing myself to Neil, John, Carl or Keith just wasn’t an option. Copying Joan Jett, Janis or Lita Ford was the only thing on the agenda for an aspiring rock chick.

Later, when I realized that no guitar, bass or keyboards is a right fit for me and that drumming is what I was “born” to do, I tried to look for new role models. It took some time, but I managed.

Some might argue that the below list of my personal best still doesn’t compare to the ultimate drum beasts that dominate the charts. They might be right, but in order to break the era of male domination, we have to inspire girls to pick up the sticks and pound their frustrations away. In that way, we will raise a new generation of fearless and fantastic chicks who can win any testosterone filled bang-off out there.

So who are those (as we will refer to them in the future) pioneers of female drumming?

Here is my personal top 7, in no particular order.


Karen Carpenter
Karen Carpenter | Source

Karen Carpenter

Member of The Carpenters, Karen first started as a drummer for the band, and later took on the lead vocals role as well. Although over time she drummed less and less, it is known that she considered herself as a “drummer who sings.”

Her drumming was acknowledged by her male peers as well, and she received numerous praises from the likes of Buddy Rich and Hal Blaine. Modern Drummer magazine had only praise for Karen and stated: “With a stick and a brush, she weaves an almost ethereal groove.”

Unfortunately, she passed away at the young age of 32, losing her long battle with anorexia. We lost an excellent singer and an even better drummer.


Carla Azar of Autolux at the LA Weekly Detour Music Festival
Carla Azar of Autolux at the LA Weekly Detour Music Festival | Source

Carla Azar

This 1987-born LA drummer is currently a drummer for Autolux. She first started as a percussionist in her school orchestra, but picked up drumming a few years later.

Her talent was recognized by some of the greats, so she contributed drums for T-Bone Burnett, PJ Harvey, as well as one of the guitar legends, John Frusciante.

What makes her so good and so unique in my point of view is summed up in one sentence she said in her interview for Tom Tom Magazine in April 2011. For her, she stated, the best part about being a drummer is: “Playing sick drum beats. Or trying to at least. And then hopefully effecting people whilst doing so.”


Jody Linscott
Jody Linscott | Source

Jody Linscott

Born in the US, her obsession with drums started when she went on a trip to England, fell in love with the country and never returned. By chance, she started playing the conga drums, and soon awed everyone who heard her play. A natural talent is what most described her. Later on, she went to play with tons of notable musicians/acts - Robert Palmer, David Gilmour, Elton John, The Who and Paul McCartney, to name a few.

To all the aspiring female drummers, here are a few words of wisdom from this mega-awesome drummer: “There really are no rules, so just go into it with love in your heart and have good faith in your abilities.” (source: Mikedolbear.com)


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Case for iPhone 4/4S $44.40 | Source
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Budget Tote bag $9.95 | Source
Roxy Petrucci
Roxy Petrucci | Source

Roxy Petrucci

A clarinetist in an symphony orchestra who loves to rock it on the drums – this is probably the best way to sum up Roxy.

A member of notorious Madam X and Vixen, she toured with Kiss, Ozzy and Deep Purple, and is regarded as the toughest female drummer today.

Why is she so great? What keeps her rockin’?

"I love playing live; the thunder of my kick drum and the crack from my snare resonating in a room full of head bangers is so indescribably satisfying, it's like an addiction. I'm anxious to get back on stage and kick in some teeth!" (source: zildjian.com)


Moe Tucker
Moe Tucker | Source

Maureen (Moe) Tucker

A notorious drummer for the notorious band Velvet Underground, she is often described as that chick drummer who played it standing up. Easier access to bass pedals and all :)

Her philosophy was to keep it simple. With a kit consisting of only snare, bass, tom toms and a mallet she considered herself as a “time-keeper” for the band. Cymbals were a redundancy for her.

Her unique style, massive attitude and the ultimate cool factor make her a perfect role model for all future power drummers out there.


Honey Lantree
Honey Lantree | Source

Honey Lantree

Drummer for a one-hit-wonder 60s Brit band, The Honeycombs, she is considered one of the first female drummers (The Ravens were the first, but we won’t be nitpickers). It has been said that she was the main inspiration for Karen Carpenter to pick up the sticks.

Although her contributions to women in music history has been somewhat diminished, she is still one of the original “chicks with sticks” who not only looked good, but was one helluva drummer as well.


Sandy West
Sandy West | Source

Sandy West

Probably one of the best known girl drummers out there, Sandy was a drummer for The Runaways, the first all-girl hard rock band. Her drumming was powerful, intense and inspired many.

As Joan Jett said in one interview following Sandy’s premature death: "In 1975 I started The Runaways with Sandy West. We shared the dream of girls playing rock and roll. Sandy was an exuberant and powerful drummer. So underrated, she was the caliber of John Bonham. I am overcome from the loss of my friend. I always told her we changed the world." (Source: drummerszone.com)

My advice: Pick up The Runaways CD, listen to Cherry Bomb and listen for yourself what made Sandy so special and why I consider her one of my main drumming muses.


Out of the listed female drummers, who is your favorite?

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Questions & Answers

    Who would you add on the list?

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      • profile image

        Barry 4 weeks ago

        Has no one ever heard of GIRLSCHOOL

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        Laura Shulman 2 months ago

        Sheila E

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        Lisa Elam 2 years ago

        Cynthia Blackman!!! Santana & Lenny !!!

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        GLJ 2 years ago

        Jen Ledger should have made the list

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        TJ 2 years ago

        How on earth did Sheila Escovedo not make this list, let alone the top two or three?

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        allan nelson 2 years ago

        I always liked Jan errico of the vejtables then the mojo men

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        Jo Jo Avallone 3 years ago

        Sandy Pesavento West lead the way for female rock drummers. Back in the 70s no other girl was playing the drums like she did. She put up with a lot of crap too I'm sure.... She did it first and she did it best!

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        Bulldozer 3 years ago

        Well, Terry Lyne Carrington and Hilary Jones are among the best! And don't forget Emmanuelle Caplette who's better than most of the guys out there - check her out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3fTeZQF9MY

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        Alan H 3 years ago

        Check out Hilary Jones. She is up there with many of the very best male drummers.

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        dada abosede 3 years ago

        What about Nigerians, u didn't include female drummers from Nigeria e.g Bostickz, topsticks, yetty sticks, hannsticks and lots more. Tnx

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        vitoblo 3 years ago

        Meg White soars above ANY who dared pick up a drumstick.

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        josh 3 years ago

        YOSHIMI

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        steven B 3 years ago

        Sheila E.

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        Wendy 3 years ago

        Without a doubt Caroline Corr

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        Denise 3 years ago

        Stefanie Eulinberg from Kid Rock's Twisted Brown Trucker Band..she's awesome!

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        Sparky 3 years ago

        Senri Kawaguchi.

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        Sean 3 years ago

        Stefanie Eulinberg from Kid Rock's Twisted Brown Trucker Band no other female drummer comes close...checkout i dunno Bawitdaba, I Am The Bullgod, American Badass, Dark And Grey then best of all the drums to the ballad Abortion, just epic.

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        sparkii 4 years ago

        Laney V from The Yappers!!

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        Nadine 4 years ago

        Jen Ledger from Skillet!!

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        ngEdwin 4 years ago

        At the moment Senri Kawaguchi, only 16 yo, is possibly the best female drummer.

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        Ken 5 years ago

        Meytal Cohen, she makes it look so easy while really getting into her jam.

        Check her out at meytalcohen.com

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        Nick 5 years ago

        Lindy Morrison of The Go-Between. Top Drummer!

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        rick duncan 5 years ago

        meytal cohen. best female drummer ever. check out her vidios.

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        Starlet42 5 years ago

        Sheila... oh well, I think you got the point. lol

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        JayV 5 years ago

        There is Hannah Blilie from Gossip and Chloe from Chaos Chaos (formely Smoosh).

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        Koko 5 years ago

        I can't believe people don't know about Nao from Maximum The Hormone! She sings, plays so hard and sings good. Type Maximum The Hormone on YouTube. She will shock you.

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        AngryBird 5 years ago

        This list is sad and short-sided without Viola Smith, she was the female Gene Krupa for cryin' out loud! But judging from this list, I don't think anyone in charge here has an appreciation for the pioneers of Jazz and Rock music...

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        maria 5 years ago

        Elaine - Neon Trees :D she's so cute!

      • thatgirlattheshow profile image

        Lisa 5 years ago from New Jersey

        I was happy to come across this article, seeing as I am a female who plays the drums too! Sheila E. is my favorite drummer; she is incredible, and inspired me to continue playing after I stopped for a while.

      • afunda profile image
        Author

        Andrea 5 years ago from Croatia

        Seems like I forgot a lot of them :)

        But on the bright side - it adds up to the discussion

      • Sebastien Catrix profile image

        Sebastien Catrix 5 years ago from Paris, France

        How bout Terri Lyne Carrington?

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        Andrew L 5 years ago

        Meytal Cohen

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        keith 5 years ago

        Meg White

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        Pool 5 years ago

        Sheila E Glaimerous Life

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        Max S. 5 years ago

        Sheila E. Hannah Ford and Nia Lovelis

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        sara climie 5 years ago

        We can't forget about my inspiration: Sandra Alva

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        mi 5 years ago

        dawn richardson of the 4 non blondes, without a doubt....

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        Wayne Hancock 5 years ago

        Allison Miller

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        Rachdrrrums 5 years ago

        Sheila E, Terri Lynne Carrington or Hannah Ford! :)

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        Vaughn 5 years ago

        Sheila E.......

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        Bvbluva 5 years ago

        Sandra alva!

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        John 5 years ago

        Try Fliss Kitson of the Nightingales...

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        LoreeC 5 years ago

        SHEILA E...can't believe she was missed

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        A rey 5 years ago

        I think jen ledger is one the best

      • afunda profile image
        Author

        Andrea 6 years ago from Croatia

        :)

        So far Sheila E is leading the charts..and I didn't even include her.

        My mistake you guys...but I do appreciate all the comments :)

      • profile image

        Lv 6 years ago

        Sheila E without a doubt!

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        Joseph Jones 6 years ago

        I would say Suezette Quintanilla would be one of the best female drummers.

      • profile image

        Lynn Dever 6 years ago

        Yeah, I've got to agree. Even though in my humble opinion Sandy West was one hell of a drummer, Sheila E. is meant to be up there with the other seven ladies. ;)

      • afunda profile image
        Author

        Andrea 6 years ago from Croatia

        True...can't believe I forgot about Sheila E.

      • Lyrickkw profile image

        Lyrickkw 6 years ago from PHILADELPHIA

        shelia E is one of the best female drummer of all time!

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