Metallica’s Lars Ulrich Decides Who the Greatest Drummer of All Time Is

“I’ve been asked that question on and off for 40 years, it’s very hard,” Hall of Fame sticksman says of John Bonham and Neil Peart

September 15, 2020

Led Zeppelin’s John “Bonzo” Bonham or Rush’s Neil Peart?

When the question of who the greatest drummer of all time came up on the Stern Show earlier this week it led to a heated on-air debate between Howard, a caller named Joe, and a few members of the staff. Who better to settle the squabble than a word-class drummer himself, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich.

“I’ve been asked that question on and off for 40 years, it’s very hard,” Lars, who ran through a series of hits with his bandmates for Howard just last month, said from his Northern California home. “No disrespect to Neil but I’ll have to go with John Bonham. “When the Levee Breaks” and you know, songs like “All My Love,” that’s just sort of the blueprint for that pocket that I continue to want to bring to Metallica … that’s just my inspiration.”

Leaning on his expertise, Lars further elaborated on Bonzo’s drumming on “Levee,” an old blues song first recorded by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in 1929. “That is sort of classic Bonham – the drums are big, thunderous, ambient,” he explained. “It’s got that kind of sexiness and that groove … he’s in a pocket. “He had a little more weight, he played really heavy … it just sounds like fucking thunder.”

That’s not to say the Metallica co-founder doesn’t hold Rush’s Peart in the highest regard. “You can’t have a drum conversation, you know, at any level without being so fucking appreciative of Neil and anything he’s done, not just for the instrument but for the community,” he said emphatically before sharing a personal story of the first time they met, over the phone in 1984. “I was 20 years old, not a pot to piss in … I was so intimidated and so awestruck … Neil was just like a rock god. We spoke 30, 45 minutes on the phone and we’re geeking out on drums … the whole thing was like a fairytale.”

Lars went on to discuss everything from Woody Allen movies to the California wildfires and even looked back fondly on Metallica’s controversial co-headlining tour with Guns N’ Roses in 1992, despite the rivalry.

“At the heart of it was two bands that really respected each other and liked each other and wanted to spend a summer together,” the drummer recalled. “So, when I look back on it I choose to look back on it like that and it was definitely one of the most fun summers I ever had.”

Before saying goodbye, Howard had him play “What Does Lars Like Better?” He, along with co-host Robin Quivers, SiriusXM host and self-proclaimed metal ambassador Jose Mangin, and Stern Show caller Joe, competed to see who knows the drummer the best based on a series of questions. Watch the video (above and see if you can guess Lars Ulrich’s answers in the quiz (below)!

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  • What is Lars’ favorite animal?

    • Photo: iStock


    • Photo: iStock


  • What is Lars’ favorite condiment?

    • Photo: Shutterstock / Mega Pixel


    • Photo: Shutterstock / AlenKadr


  • Who is Lars’ favorite superhero?

    • Photo: Warner Bros.

      green lantern

    • Photo: The CW


  • Who is Lars’ favorite comedian?

    • Photo: Michael Ferguson/Shutterstock

      Bobcat goldthwait

    • Photo: Globe Photos/Mediapunch/Shutterstock

      sam kinison

You got0 of4correct.


Metallica’s “S&M2” is available now.