The 20 Best Female Drummers — by all means, badass

Despite being the very backbone of bands, with their presence felt, literally, in every beat —drummers are often overlooked by media and fans alike (especially female drummers), who tend to ogle over singers and guitarists that are positioned forthright and in an audience’s face. We here at Grimy Goods want to remind all ye music devotees how badass the fantastically talented, yet under appreciated, ladies behind the skins are. It’s impossible to cover all the amazing women rockin’ the kit but we thought we’d shout out a few who truly brighten our musical experiences… thank you, ladies.

With a little help from our Grimy Goods readers, our editor and myself, we’ve updated our past Best Female Drummers list to reflect a broader spectrum of music and women. Check out our Top 20 Badass Female Drummers list below! If your favorite drummer is not on this list, mention her in a comment!

Words: Emily Saex

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In alphabetical order because these female drummers are just too awesome to list in any other way.

1. Carla Azar – Autolux

Autolux at Constellation Room

2. Lori Barbero – Babes in Toyland

lori barbero best female drummers

3. Cindy Blackman Santana – Santana, Lenny Kravitz, etc.

Cindy Blackman best female drummers
Photo Source: Cindy Blackman Santana Website Gallery

4. Elaine Bradley – Neon Trees

Elaine Bradley best female drummers
Photo Source: Neon Trees Official Website Photo Gallery

5. Stephanie Luke (aka Rusty Coathanger) – The Coathangers

Stephanie Luke best female drummers

6. Julie Edwards – Deap Vally

Julie Edwards best female drummers

7. Barbara Gruska – The Belle Brigade

Barbara Gruska best female drummers
Photo Source: The Belle Brigade Facebook Page

8. Laura Harris – Ex Hex

Ex Hex

9. Liv Marsico – Liphemra, Gothic Tropic, etc.

Liphemra liv marsico best female drummers

 

— Click To View The Next 10 Drummers —

89 thoughts on “The 20 Best Female Drummers — by all means, badass

  1. Eric

    Great list. Great website, too. And great response to the couple of haters in the comments. People like that show so little appreciation that the builders of community work their asses off, mean well, and aren’t their fucking servants… arg!

    So the only big oversites I’d note are the great Shiela Escovedo and Georgia Hubley from YLT. And I totally disagree w the couple nominations of mo tucker and meg White.

  2. MFord

    Dame Evelyn Glennie, veteran world famous classical percussionist from the UK, often guest of symphonies around the world, AND she is deaf! Check out her story in the documentary “Touch the Sound”:
    https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=J1G8XGYQh

    Also how about:
    -Stefanie Mannaerts – Brutus
    -Sara Lund – Unwound
    -Molly Neumann – Peechees, Bratmobile
    -Yoshimi P-We – Boredoms
    -mi-gu (Yuko Araki) – Cornelius, Plastic Ono Band
    -Kim Schifino from Matt & Kim
    -Debbi Peterson – Bangles
    Many more I’m sure missing from the list, thankfully many picked up in comments.

  3. sharon

    check out Beyonce — All Girl Band — she has drummers …1 – Km Thompson & Venzella Joy & Nikki Glaspie …

  4. Julie

    How about adding U.S Jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and Californian, Sheila E!

  5. Hugh oversight

    Lynn Perko is a huge oversight. She is 6 feet tall, as beautiful as a model, played in a all girl hardcore band from Reno from 81-83 that opened for every all male hardcore band from that era and toured with black flag, toured nationally with the dicks in the 80s, drummed in the 80s and 90s for sister double happiness who were huge on the west coast and toured internationally, and for the last 15 years with indie rock legends imperial teen.

    Most of these women couldn’t even hold her sticks.

  6. Vincent

    It is still good for a girl because I see too many female drummers and guitarists getting too many props for techniques that men don’t get because it’s been done before. Dial it back because holy crap I’ve seen better male drummers that don’t get their due but the women get magazine space.

  7. Sandy Sledge

    It’s me. Haha. I’m the best. What a rough life this has been. I’ll come across as the biggest ass for this, I know.
    I have played so much, all styles, all conditions, carrying my gear, living the life. Contests, schooling, recording, teaching, weddings, trade shows, musicals, clubs, concerts. I had a 7 year deal with a major label by the time I was 23.
    But the money sucks and the life is hard.
    We don’t get the opportunities, because we’re female. The only way for that to change is to refuse to buy (or download) music from bands that aren’t at least 50/50 co-ed.
    Do this, and we won’t need contests to promote the idea that female drummers are great.
    Of course we’re great drummers. Rhythm is natural to females.
    We are life’s intuitive timekeepers.
    ******
    Sandy “Sledge” Kaye
    LA, CA

  8. Najib Mansor

    I proposed to review the youngest potential drummer Nur Amira Syahira 12 years old from Malaysia.

  9. orangedrums

    I vote also for Amy Eileen Wood. While she didn’t make this list, look for her to top future lists.
    She’s great.

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  12. Callie

    Keri Cavetone of The Ex-Bombers and Cavetone Records!!!!!!!! Have you seen her drum in a mini dress? It’s amazing. Her body positivity is inspiring.

  13. Sandy

    @Angie – Awesome. I’m glad you understand where we are coming from. Sorry if I came off a bit fierce, I rarely chime in on comments, but this one struck a chord. Cheers.

  14. Wyatt

    This is a great list. I love the variety from underground bands to indie to mainstream. Not sure why so many people are bringing up drummer from the past that don’t even drum anymore. It’s clear that this is a list for today and not an “best drummer of all time”.

  15. angiescarpa

    Hey Sandy… After reading your well put reply I have to recant. You are right! I guess my comment came from the same place as your statement “because they are always singled out in this male-dominated industry”. I just get tired of the “good for a girl” crap that I hear all the time. and having men give me “pointers” or whatever. I always say being in a band of women is a lot like shooting pool in a bar. No matter how many times you kick some guys ass on the table they always feel the need to give you a little advice on your game. Thanks for your great site and forgive my 7am bleary eyed crankiness. 🙂

  16. Drummer

    To Angie Scarpa: You make it seem
    like this post is something negative. When it’s not. I’m a female drummers in a well known band and I agree with Sandra’s lomg comment. Women in music have always been a minority. We still are. But we’re growing. Articles like this raise awareness about us and open eyes to people that may have never known about us. You’re clearly missing the bigger picture.

  17. Angie Scarpa

    Fuck this list. While everyone on it is great and deserves props.. They are great drummers.. Period.. It’s 2015. Can you imagine a “best male drummer” list or “best white drummer” list. Sexist crap

  18. Sandy

    @Angie — You, know… I’m so sick of drama queens such as yourself that take anything positive and turn it into something negative. Especially when it comes to sexism and feminism. Lately, it seems like so many people want to make issues bigger than they truly are, just to seem like they are a part of something. Well, I’m a woman. This is my site that I created seven years ago from nothing in an industry that was run by men. Since day one I have spotlighted women in music. This is a feature I helped create. Have you ever thought maybe we just wanted to showcase female drummers alone because they are always singled out in this male-dominated industry? No, you prob didn’t think of that. Because you have nothing better to do with your life than to “cry wolf” via the Internet. It’s like Mark Kozelek said, “There is an epidemic of people being ‘offended’ by things as some kind of hobby…” And to those people I say, GET A LIFE. Ain’t nobody (female or male) have time for your bad energy.

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  20. Jeff Whitehouse

    No Mo Tucker on a list of “bad ass” female drummers. She’s only the prototype for all who followed her. Nice bullshit-ass list. I only hope no one gets paid for this type of destitute mental retardation.

  21. Kathy

    How about two female drummers in one band? Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse from Skating Polly are really great. Valerie Agnew from 7 Year Bitch. Georgia Hubley from Yo La Tengo.

  22. Ciaran O'Hagan

    Patty Schemel is by far the best dummer on this list! Listen to any live Hole track…especially Whose Porno You Burn/ Asking For It (Reading Festival 1995)/ Burn Black!!!

  23. nigel

    well i just found a buncha new bands to try out 🙂 chics rock and rocker chics rock even more 😀

  24. Bethany Domiguez

    For those complaining who should be in the #1 spot, don’t you people read?!?? All the drummers are ordered alphabetically. Very awesome list by the way.

  25. Julie

    how about Lynn Truell, Sister double happiness and imperial teen. She rocked live. Lori Barbaro should be #1.

  26. Stephen Katz

    Zoe Brecher, formerly of Total Slacker, now with her girlfriend performing as Brainfreeze. I know you left her off because you probably hadn’t heard of her, but now that you have, you need to.

  27. Laura NUnez

    I think you all forgot to mention Stephanie Bailey of the Black Angels! Also….Maureen Tucker of the Velvet Underground wasn’t too shabby. I know there are more amazing female drummers out there…But geez, maybe create a top 25?

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  29. seleste

    Actually I know a drummer who is the star of the band never overlooked and always fun to watch and listen… must check her out Joana Moon Bonham aka Joana Rubio of Stars At Night Keith Moons reincarnation!!!

  30. Sam Greeney

    Good variety. It’s nice to not just see the names from the biggest bands or the ones on youtube playing covers. To all of those asking “how did blah blah blah” not make it on here!?” Simple: it only went up to TWENTY. These lists are allegorical people!

  31. Jason Silver

    Carla Azar’s best work was with Ednaswap 1996-1997. Pretty solid choice for number 1.

  32. MARK H

    I can’t believe you haven’t listed Denise Dufort from the all female rock band – Girlschool. Also I know the White Stripes are not together any more but I think Meg White should still have got a mention.

  33. Stephen

    amy Eileen wood! She’s the greatest. The donnies and the Amy’s, Fiona Apple, Quincey blaque trio, Conway, big black delta. She’s amazing.

  34. mathilde menusier

    How can NISENNENMONDAI’s Himeno Sayaka possibly not make list? Please tell me, I’m dying to know.

  35. Bobby Vega

    Mindee Jourgensen currently of Peach Kelli Pop, and affiliated with The Mod-Pods, Dangerously Sleazy, GNARVANA, And many more. She’s a force. She came to LA from Utah and just worked her ass off in different projects starting around 2008.
    Also…Lia Braswell from Le Bucherettes and Peter Pants. Holy shit! How did you forget her. Damn she’s one of the best regardless of gender.
    Rachel Fannen, she’s been in a few bands drumming but mostly sings. But damn she destroys on drums.
    Laura Velez of Manhattan Murder Mystery, is the hardest working drummer in LA. She is playing constantly and driving from hella far for it all. Never complains about shit. She just does it cuz she loves it. That’s rare. And she can adapt to any style.
    And most recently Jana Jordan who has become the drummer of my band GNARVANA had been waiting this whole time to be acknowledged as a serious musician. By far the most driven, and reliable person I’ve worked with in years, her ability to learn is that of a 9 year old boy who knows the ins and outs of every video game ever. She rips. And the fact that she’s famous for other stuff, just adds to her mystique.

  36. Nik Havert

    Stephanie Bailey from The Black Angels is one of the best drummers out there right now, male or female. She’s the band’s secret weapon.

  37. Benjamin Bradwell

    Fay Milton kills. She’s the first one to come to mind when I saw this headline.

  38. Sandra Dominguez

    What about Phanie Diaz of Girl In A Coma and Fea? That girl wails and can at least out drum some of these girls here . As a matter of fact I saw them tour with Coathangers and she’s equal if not stronger to Stephanie .

  39. matt

    If we’re talking style you cant beat Poni from the Ettes. The drummer for The Nots is pretty great too.

  40. Steve Winot

    Cecilia Kahn of FRIGHTWIG?????? Lynn Perko Truell of Imperial Teen????

    mighty big exclusions.

  41. Jennifer

    GREAT list. But, I feel Danielle Haim deserves a spot here. While she’s mostly a singer and guitarist for Haim, she also plays the drums. She’s played the drums with many bands on tour, including the Strokes and the Killers.

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