Music is flooded with different musicians trying to make their mark in the industry. All too common are those who push it too far.
The passion is not there, one can tell that it is just a stunt to promote yourself. Which of course there is no problem with a little self-promotion.
Few musicians make the impact of having a standout part in a song. Here we will explore some of the greatest and most famous drum solos in the music world that were passionate and felt enough to make it on this list.
This article tried to differ a drum solo, compared to a drum intro or a famous drum groove. In order to qualify, it really must be a solo.
The drummer is saying, “Hey look what I can do”. Rather than focusing on aiding the song, or just starting off a new section of the song.
12. Jesus of Suburbia – Green Day
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Green Day is quite the controversial band. Whether it is their politics, or that it is rumored some of their music sounds the same. One cannot deny the fact that Tre Cool is a force to be reckoned with.
In this song, towards the 1:25 mark, Tre starts with some quick rolls on the snare and toms. Then going into some cool transfers between the toms and snare. The solo takes the place of the vocals that were present in the verses before.
This solo is very well known in the punk rock world. Whenever this song is played during concerts, the crowd is ready to cheer on Tre Cool as he lets the drums shine.
11. The End – The Beatles
The Beatles are of course one of the most iconic bands to ever grace the music scene. But the drummer, Ringo Starr, was not known for his solos, or his chops. Though he can be noted for some well-known drum parts. He just held the beat and held it well.
This is a rare occasion where Starr lets the kit take front stage. At the 0:25 mark, Ringo drives the bass drum home through a very held back but thought-out solo.
None of the notes are randomly placed. In fact, there are not too many notes at all. The driving force being the continuous bass drum.
Though this solo is few in chops or speed, in is a staple in The Beatles catalogue, marking an essential song for Ringo.
10. Beast and the Harlot – Avenged Sevenfold
Late and great, The Rev, is a sought-after name in the drumming community. Being known mainly for playing in the band Avenged Sevenfold.
Keeping almost all their songs quick paced and tight. Including a lot of double bass. And at the solos 3:25 mark, the double bass does not stop. This is a signature part of The Rev’s sound.
Something else included in the solo is tightness. Everything about The Rev is tight no matter how fast or complicated the rhythms are.
The solo also displays his ability to alternate between the snare/toms and the bass drum, done at immense speeds.
This is another example of a musician being great, but not always showing off. So, amongst fans of fast and speeding metal, the drum solo in “Beast and the Harlot” is a must hear.
9. Painkiller – Judas Priest
The intro to “Painkiller” is a killer. It shreds and opens up the song miraculously. Roaring into what will become one of the bands must play songs at shows.
What really can make it appealing to a drummer in particular is the bass drum sound. Compared to many other songs when they use double bass, the sound is much more open. It is not just the quick slap of the beater that you hear. Your able to hear the whole drum.
How it shreds is something else that makes it so popular. Scott Travis turned the drum set into a buzz saw, ripping through some fast double bass and searing cymbals.
This perfectly sets up what is to come within the song itself. But the drums definitely stand out here in the beginning.
8. Rope – Foo Fighters
Amongst all of the musicians in this article, Taylor Hawkins is the most currently applicable. His passing was a shock to the musical world.
He was also not one to shy away from showing what he could do on the drums. Every single Foo Fighter’s show included a drum solo from Hawkins himself.
Included in their music was his drumming talent as well. Especially in the last choruses of their songs, sometimes containing a crazy drum fill compared to the others.
At the 2:50 mark of “Rope”, a standout solo is played. Even including some cowbell! Hawkins shows his skill without playing anything too complex.
This song became a must play in the Foo’s catalogue due to the extensive desire to hear this solo from fans.
Hawkins is an inspiration to many, and this song will live on and continue to be a presentation of his great work.
7. Jack and Diane – John Cougar
“Jack and Diane” is an American classic. There are certain songs that fit this category. No matter where you go in America, if you play this song, everyone knows it.
And playing drums on this record is the one and only Kenny Aronoff. Being one of the well wanted studio drummers, this song is a monumental achievement in his career. Not just because the song is as famous as it is, but because he even got a solo in it.
At the 2:29 mark, there is a breakdown. After the chorus, all of the other instruments cut out to allow Kenny to build up the next section of the song.
It is completely air drummable. You can hear and distinguish every note, but they all mean so much and hit you the same way no matter how many times you hear it.
It is a memorable solo, that once you hear it, you will always remember and prepare for when the song is on.
6. Sing, Sing, Sing – Benny Goodman
This is without a doubt one of the best-known songs for its drumming. Without a shadow of a doubt, Gene Krupa invented one of the most iconic drum lines in history.
It is also more than just a good drum intro. Throughout the piece, there are breaks where the drums cut in to solo and build up to the next section. But they are solos, none of these breaks are identical. You can find these parts in the intro, 3:05, and scattered elsewhere throughout.
The tom grooves featured here are pumping and have a hooking rhythm. The use of grace notes and accents allow it to do more than keep the beat, it can be heard as a melody line of its own. You can hum to it whether you are a drummer or not.
That is what makes it popular and famous. It can be understood just like hooking vocal lines to non-musicians.
5. Moby Dick – Led Zeppelin
Perhaps what gives John Bonham his nick name, a man on fire, started here. This song features a tremendous, almost three minute long solo from the master. But it does fit with the song.
It starts off with a regular mix of instruments, then at the 1:00 mark, everything stops. The drums start with a nice tom rhythm that automatically hooks you in. Later going into some fast triplets between the toms, snare and bass drum.
You can not help but continue listening. Usually someone, a casual music listener, would switch songs, why would they want to hear drums on their own? But in this case, it is a complete onslaught that you can not look away from. It just continues barreling over and over giving life and a flame to it.
Eventually everything comes back together, the guitar lick and the bass. “Moby Dick” will forever be engrained as Bonzo’s drumming masterpiece.
4. Hot for Teacher – Van Halen
This song had been surrounded by a while with the mystery of what that sound in the beginning is. Some said it was double bass, other said, well it couldn’t be that.
But eventually it came out that it was actually the sound of a vehicle idling. It sounds very much like double bass, so it can be understood why it was confusing. This is why the solo is so popular.
Just like the mystery of Paul McCartney, it applied here the same way. Surround something with a mystery and it will become a conversation instantly.
Outside of the mystery, though this solo is in the intro, it is a solo. It really stands out from the rest of the song, making it extremely memorable.
Something to note that drummers really enjoy is the double bass trot that takes the place of the idling sound. As stated at the beginning, it is surely due to the mystery that made it such a popular part.
3. Tom Sawyer – Rush
What is one of the most powerful progressive rock songs features a solo by the professor Neil Peart. Throughout this song there are plenty of odd time signatures, cool fills, and great groove.
At the 2:30 mark is a thunderous roar of drums. It displays power, and technique. Starting with a roll down all the toms. Then into a bass and tom racecar of a fill. Completely filling the space and striking to any listener. Followed by some trading between the snare and shimmering cymbals. It is really a work of art, really thought out.
Something that is iconic about this solo is the air drumming. Whenever one would attend a Rush show, everyone would be air drumming along with Neil as he ripped through this. In conclusion, there’s no doubt this is a great start to the top three.
2. In the Air Tonight – Phil Collins
Without hesitation, this could be in the number one spot. Across the board, the drum break in “In the Air Tonight” is well known across all people, drummers and non-drummers alike.
Some people only know the song for this reason. They can ignore and just anticipate the toms coming in and wrecking the song. That is sort of what it feels like.
Everything is laid back in its way, then to bring in the more upbeat section of the song, the toms wreck and destroy its part. It is loud, thunderous, and cracking. At the 3:38 mark of this song is one of the most iconic drum solos in the world.
1. Wipe Out – Surfaris
Number one on this list is what every drummer in the 60’s wanted to be able to play. It is ripping fast and extremely flashy. It catches everyone’s attention the second it starts.
You could be in front of any musical audience in the world, and everyone would enjoy hearing this. The tom groove is present throughout the song, but it can be played as a solo.
Many drummers have their own take on this, some on the other hand always sticking to the original way it was played by Ron Wilson.
Through the years many different drum parts have come and gone as the next big thing. What everyone wanted to learn has always been changing depending on what music is popular, or what music that person in particular listens to.
With all these different factors, ‘Wipe Out” has always been a must know by all drummers and is an essential solo to know how to play.
In all …
With all the different styles and genres, everyone’s top picks will be different. Something good about music though is that there is always common ground. Everyone can find the same soil in which some of their roots are planted in.
That is where this list lies. A commonality between drummers. Songs and solos that mapped out and were an inspiration to all. And to the non-drummers, these are the drumming pieces that you have all heard.
They are all memorable and stick with you and your musical cache. Allowing the drums to still be a pleasing sound to hear on your favorite tracks.
Everyone, can agree that the top 12 solos here are ear worms, being something to look forward to hearing when these songs are played.