Top 10 Greatest Drum Solos of All Time

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Top 10 Greatest Drum Solos of All Time

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
These solos rock! For this list, we'll be ranking the most memorable drum solos of all time, but excluding extended live versions or short but memorable fills. Our countdown includes Buddy Rich, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and more!
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Top 10 Drum Solos


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Drum Solos.

For this list, we'll be ranking the most memorable drum solos of all time, but excluding extended live versions or short but memorable fills. These drum sequences and solos don't necessarily need to be unaccompanied to count, but they should drive home the performer's skill and technique in an obvious way that commands the listener’s attention.

What’s your favorite drum solo? Tell us in the comments below.

#10: "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" (1968)

Iron Butterfly

It's one of psychedelic rock's most legendary songs, and also among the longest. "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" by San Diego's own Iron Butterfly is a staggering 17 minutes and 5 seconds long. The track's epic length is thanks to a number of solo sections for each member of the band, with the guitars, bass and drums each getting their turn in the spotlight. For drummer Ron Bushy's part, the percussionist shines on both a solo drum section, as well as a dual solo with organ player and singer Doug Ingle. Heck, even bassist Lee Dorman gets in on the act, soloing alongside Bushy during the final act of "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" and its hazy proto-metal dirge.

#9: "West Side Story Medley" (1966)

Buddy Rich

Bernard "Buddy" Rich is what you might call "a drummer's drummer." The New York native has long been lauded as one of the finest drummers to ever pick up a pair of sticks, influencing countless musicians in the wake of his Big Band success. Case in point? Rich's incredible work recording the music of "West Side Story," in particular the series of selections that make up the "West Side Story Medley." Buddy Rich's insane chops and flawless jazz technique are on full display here, as he leads his swinging band in some impressive and innovative musical directions. Simply stated: it's an incredible piece of music, and one which deserves serious investigation from anyone remotely interested in the art of percussion.

#8: "Forty Six & 2" (1996)

Tool

They say that it isn't always about the destination; it's about the journey. This line of thinking could also apply to the musical approach of Danny Carey, as the Tool drummer has made a career out of perfecting the art of restraint and precision. This can best be heard on such songs as "Ticks & Leeches" and "Forty Six & 2"—the dark, brooding intensity of which has played a major role in defining Tool's progressive metal sound. Carey crafts percussive build-ups with his hard-hitting style, lurching alongside guitarist Adam Jones and bass player Justin Chancellor to create dreary symphonies of drum-heavy bliss on the latter, which was released in 1998 as Ænima’s 4th single.

#7: "Painkiller" (1990)

Judas Priest

Subtlety? No thanks. The heavy metal legends in Judas Priest would much rather hit you over the head with this piledriving title track to their 1990 opus, "Painkiller." Drummer Scott Travis pummels listeners with an unaccompanied double bass intro, and never looks back, driving the song from first note to last with furious aggression. Judas Priest had always had something of a revolving door drum position within their ranks, and "Painkiller" was Travis' first album with the band. Travis still holds that position today as Priest's longest serving drummer, but "Painkiller" might be the man's best performance with the band—a tour de force track that serves as a highlight of Judas Priest's enviable career.

#6: "Wipe Out" (1963)

The Surfaris

What comes to mind when you think of the musical genre known as "surf rock?" Sandy beaches? Bikinis? Pounding drums? If you're a fan of The Surfaris, then it's most definitely the latter. This is proven especially true when examining the pioneering surf rock group's biggest hit, "Wipe Out." Largely an instrumental, other than the brief cackled intro, "Wipe Out" rocks 'n rolls with tremolo-picked, reverb drenched guitar and the frenetic drumming of Ron Wilson. Wilson in particular gets to bust out on his own, alternating energetic drum solos against the riffing and solos of guitarists Jim Fuller and Bob Berryhill. It's a driving, infectious little number that has transcended genre to become one of the world’s most instantly recognizable songs.

#5: "The End" (1969)

The Beatles

Not every drummer necessarily enjoys standing in the spotlight to perform a flashy, self-serving drum solo. Beatles legend Ringo Starr was a famously understated performer, but he nevertheless performed one to kick off "The End," the final track on what would be the iconic rock 'n roll band’s second-to-last studio album. Setting aside the hidden track “Her Majesty,” "The End" appropriately closed out "Abbey Road''. Starr actually recorded the simple, yet effective solo alongside guitar and tambourine while in the studio. However, these instruments would be lowered in the mix prior to the album's release, allowing Starr's hard-hitting tom work to shine through on this fan favorite Beatles cut.

#4: "Rat Salad" (1970)

Black Sabbath

The founding four members of Black Sabbath are all monumental musicians in their own right. But drummer Bill Ward arguably flies under the radar as the most underrated performing within the group. Ward's impressive and impactful talents as a drummer were always put to good use by the band, but perhaps don't receive the attention they deserve. Case in point: "Rat Salad," the sometimes forgotten instrumental tucked away on side two of Sabbath's 1970 album "Paranoid." At barely two-and-a-half minutes, the track nevertheless manages to leave a mark, thanks to the heavy interplay between Ward's octopus-esque kit abuse and guitarist Tony Iommi's beefed-up blues menace. We'll have the "Rat Salad," please!

#3: "Won't Get Fooled Again" (1971)

The Who

During his time with The Who, Keith Moon paired self-destructive behavior with serious drumming skills. "My Generation" is a great showcase of his chops, but for this pick we had to go with the epic "Won't Get Fooled Again." Not only does this track from The Who's fifth album, "Who's Next?," feature one of classic rock's all time best screams from singer Roger Daltrey, but it also boasts an incredible solo section from Moon near the track's back end. Keith begins to ramp up his playing around the six minute mark before coming 'round near the song's finale for one final, rush to the finish line. It's pure musical magic.

#2: "YYZ" (1981)

Rush

It's been a fan favorite instrumental for Rush fans ever since the track was first released back in 1981. "YYZ" is the title, and it's been somewhat of a musical calling card for these members of Canadian rock royalty - thanks largely in part to the unbelievable percussive skills of one Neil Peart. Although live renditions of "YYZ" may feature more pronounced, unaccompanied drum solos from Peart, the track itself is a tour de force of virtuoso musicianship from any drummer's perspective—not to mention exceptional work from guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist Geddy Lee. "YYZ" hits hard and hits often, reminding us that there are few acts out there that can do progressive rock quite like Rush.

Before we hit you with our number one drum solo, here are a few heavy honorable mentions!

"Radar Love" (1973)
Golden Earring


"Frankenstein" (1972)
Edgar Winter Group

"Toad” (1966)
Cream

"T.N.U.C." (1969)
Grand Funk Railroad


"Fire” (1971)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience

#1: "Moby Dick" (1969)

Led Zeppelin

Classic rock fans often debate which drummer is the all time greatest. The conversation is ever-changing, but more often than not, Led Zeppelin's John Bonham sits atop these lists as an untouchable giant of the instrument. It's not hard to imagine why, either, at least when listening to this classic cut from the band's second LP. “Moby Dick” is the penultimate song on the album, but it makes a huge impression not only with Bonham's punishing of his drum kit, but also the badass riff Jimmy Page lays down to bring it all together. It's hard, it's aggressive, it's legendary: "Moby Dick" has it all as one of the best examples of the classic rock drum solo as art.
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