Have you ever heard a song with a drum solo that just makes you want to air drum without hesitation? That’s exactly how you can tell it’s a great one! If you want to know some of the best drum solos of all time, keep reading to find out.
1. Toad – Cream (Ginger Baker)
Drum solos weren’t utilized in rock music that often until Ginger Baker brought the concept to life on Cream’s instrumental song Toad, which was released in 1966. He had previously been in a rhythm and blues group, so he naturally gravitated towards jazz, and by incorporating that style into his drumming with the band, he quickly became “rock’s first superstar drummer.”
You can hear the patterns and melodies that often accompany jazz music in Toad, but the quickness and heavy components of the drums bring it right into the rock world with the energy we find electrifying. The cymbals will captivate your attention and have left us mesmerized for decades.
2. Moby Dick – Led Zeppelin (John Bonham)
You cannot talk about the best drum solos of all time and not mention the master himself, John Bonham, who could bring everyone to their feet with the exciting speed and melody of his drum solo in Moby Dick. When you think of Led Zeppelin, you think of Bonham, because he was such an iconic part of the band.
During this track, you will get both the energy and hard booms we’ve come to know and love in rock, but he also includes slight jazz elements using the waltz. Did you know he also uses his hands instead of sticks during a section where he pays homage to Latin stylings? It’s his versatility and wild nature that’ll leave you wondering what style is coming up next in every Led Zeppelin song you hear.
3. Leave Us Leap – Gene Krupa
In the 1940s, no one knew what a rock drum solo was or how it worked, but that all changed thanks to Gene Krupa and the hit song, Leave Us Leap. When we listen to this track, we aren’t blown away by the technical nature of his drumming, but we’d be remiss not to include this as one of the best drum solos because of his unique and loud styles during the jazz years.
4. Keep Yourself Alive – Queen (Roger Taylor)
In 1973, the incredible vocals of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury could be heard from coast to coast, but in Keep Yourself Alive, we hear the amazing talent of drummer Roger Taylor.
We loved this drum solo because while short within only 16 notes on the tom, it had a massive presence, and you could feel the suspense building for the upcoming guitar solo, which filled us with excitement. Taylor played his drum solo the same way every single time, which showed his mastery of it, including using cymbals hypnotically every three bars.
5. 21st Century Schizoid Man – King Crimson (Michael Giles)
Michael Giles showcased his talent during 21st Century Schizoid Man when he breaks into one of the best drum solos of all time in the middle of the song, which had been dubbed “mirrors.” When we listen to this drum solo, it brings us back to the 1960s and the very prog-rock atmosphere where acid trips were commonplace.
Also, Giles was inspired by jazz music, so you’ll hear the elements of jazz throughout the solo, and it’s very reminiscent of Duke Ellington. He could easily switch between tempos and time signatures, making his solo a spectacular one-of-a-kind experience.
6. One – Metallica (Lars Ulrich)
The emotional components of One can be felt by everyone that’s ever heard the song, and an iconic element in the track is the epic drumming by Lars Ulrich. It is a shining example of not only the talent of Ulrich but of what heavy rock music drumming should be, with our entire body feeling the passion and fire of the drums.
We can feel the intensity because of the heavy drumming, and it’s like we’re in a thrilling action movie. From there, the snare heard at the end of the song along with the double bass gives it a memorable and emotional ending.
7. Tom Sawyer – Rush (Neil Peart)
Have you ever heard loud roaring thunder during a storm and felt it shake you from the inside out? Well, that is what the drum solo in Tom Sawyer does, and it remains one of the best drum solos of all time thanks to the incredible talent of Neil Peart. This makes it one of the quintessential Rush songs for fans to enjoy.
We love this song because it’s not only groovy from start to finish, but the signatures and fills that he puts into this track make it powerful and loud from start to finish. The cymbals and snare also add to the artistic masterpiece that is Tom Sawyer.
8. Rope – Foo Fighters (Taylor Hawkins)
The music world lost a true talent when Taylor Hawkins died in 2022, but he leaves behind a catalog of some of the best drum solos of all time including in the fan favorite, Rope. While it might not contain complex drumming, he uses cowbells and hits the drums with energy that we can feel from head to toe. His style and crazy booming solos are a huge part of what made the Foo Fighters beloved across all demographics.
9. West Side Story Medley – Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich is without a doubt one of the best jazz drummers of all time and provided us with hours of entertainment through his epic drum solos.
When we hear West Side Story Medley, we find ourselves immersed in the variety of solos throughout this 10-minute song. They are refined and remind us of what you’d hear at a sophisticated dinner party. What makes Rich and this track even more amazing is that he could not read sheet music and used only his memory to play the drums.
10. The Mule – Deep Purple (Ian Paice)
In 1971, The Mule was released by Deep Purple, and it’s Ian Paice’s epic drum solo that makes this song a classic and stands out as one of the bests of all time.
Outside of the drum solo, you can hear his unique style incorporated into the track, and it’s hardly what you’d think of playing in either a chorus or verse. When we hear the drum solo in the song, we just can’t help but become engrossed in his melodic and vastly energetic drumming.
11. Jack & Diane – John Mellencamp (Kenny Aronoff)
When we talk about air drumming, such as when you’re in your car, Jack & Diane remains one of the most iconic tracks for it, and it’s a classic regardless of where you live in America.
Kenny Aronoff is a studio drummer that managed to get a solo in this song, and when you hear it, there’s no question why it’s one of the best drum solos of all time. While it’s not a complicated drumming pattern, the rhythm that builds up the track and leaves us in suspense for the next part while we tap our feet to the melody makes it an instant hit.
12. Fire – Jimi Hendrix Experience (Mitch Mitchell)
Mitch Mitchell slays his drum solo in Fire by Jimi Hendrix Experience and leaves us feeling like we can run a marathon with the high energy and power behind it. You can hear him drumming in a jazz manner where you have rhythms throughout the entire song. Released in 1967, it’s a great example of the soul and heart that we’ve come to recognize from this psychedelic band.
13. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes (Meg White)
Seven Nation Army is one of those songs you just want to nod your head up and down to, and part of the reason this track is so banging is the drums that you hear right from the beginning in true rock fashion.
Meg White continues to play the drums heavily and loudly throughout this track, and the memorable beat will be in your head long after the song ends. We have seen this band play live and can tell you that the drum solo is one of the most impressive we have seen.
14. In The Air Tonight – Phil Collins
A truly emotional song that puts chills up and down our spine every time we hear it is In The Air Tonight, and it contains one of the best drum solos in music. Regardless of whether you like it or not, everyone knows it, and it’s a common air drumming tune to groove to while you’re in your car.
Every once in a while, there is a track that can bring everyone together in a room, and thanks to the drumming, this easily became one of those songs. The drums made us feel like thunder was cracking underneath our feet, and the progression of it getting louder as the track advanced left us in anticipation for more.
15. Painkiller – Judas Priest (Scott Travis)
Judas Priest is such a perfect example of what metal is all about, and on the song Painkiller, Scott Travis gives us one of the hardest rocking best drum solos to ever be recorded. It includes double bass, and we felt like we were being hit with a frying pan right in the middle of our heads with the loud and aggressive nature of the track and the powerful drumming.
16. Karn Evil 9 – Emerson Lake & Palmer (Carl Palmer)
Jazz and rock come together in Karn Evil 9 to give us a song that is a perfect example of not only amazing rock music but precision drumming from Carl Palmer. Breaks combined with fills and solos during the first impression, and it moves into the second impression to fill our bodies with thumping energy that to this day we find joyful.
17. The End – The Beatles (Ringo Starr)
Our list cannot be complete without a song from The Beatles, and one track where the grand drumming of Ringo Starr shines is The End. Hearing it brings us back to the early days of rock music, and there is a peaceful hypnotic element to the band that makes us feel comforted in times of mental or physical pain. The song undoubtedly contains one of the best drum solos of all time and is considered to be one of the best drum performances from Starr.
18. Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who (Keith Moon)
Keith Moon brings enthusiasm and oomph to the recognizable song Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who. This track exemplifies how one drum solo can leave a lasting impression on music fans, including how this track makes us stop and sing no matter where we are.
Right before Roger Waters screams his head off, there is a legendary drum solo by Moon that gets us in the mood for what comes next. This is one song that people all over the world know and recognize, in part by the glorious drumming of Moon.
19. Night In Tunisia – Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers (Art Blakey)
We cannot overstate the beauty in the 1959 song Night In Tunisia by Art Blakey, which blends amazing vocals with his amazing drumming that is a shining example of the power of a jazz drum solo. It felt like being hit with lightning the first time we heard this track due to the drum solo that hit our bodies like a thunderous spark.
It’s the power and fact that Blakey slays throughout the song that this song easily makes the list of best drum solos. Whether you like jazz or not, this track is artistic, creative, powerful, and soulful and was the moment Blakey entered legendary status.
20. Eleven – Primus (Tim Alexander)
The dynamic energy felt in Eleven with one of the best drum solos from Tim Alexander makes it stand out amongst all of the Primus songs. We remember being in the car and hearing this track for the first time and just being captivated by the smashing drums that had our stereo system cracking because it was so loud and immersive. It was recorded in 11/8, which also adds to the uniqueness of it all.
21. Grebfruit – Benny Greb
In 2014, Benny Greb released Grebfruit, and it’s one of the most well-known songs from his album because of its creativity with the triple drumming component near the end of this track. He is a highly-skilled drummer and vocalist, and he performs both the drums and vocals on this track, which are both impeccable and masterful. The song left us breathless and brought a smile to our faces as we sang the chorus and air drummed along with Greb.
22. Ticks & Leeches – Tool (Danny Carey)
Being one of the more eccentric bands on this list, Tool gave us one of the best drum solos ever in Ticks & Leeches back in 2001. Talented drummer Danny Carey delivers an epic solo at the very beginning of the song and continues ringing our ears for over three minutes with more booming drums that left them spasming long after the track ended.
Next: The best Tool songs
23. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Iron Butterfly (Ron Bushy)
We will never forget the moment we heard In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida for the first time, and this 17-minute song is filled with amazing drumming, including a drum solo around six minutes into the song.
The infectious chorus is one we have stuck in our heads for hours after listening to this track and hearing the drums amp it up even more. The drumming is unique, and the pace accelerates quickly before backing off again. It’s a memorable song that is just as impressive today as it was in the 1960s.
24. Aja – Steely Dan (Steve Gadd)
Aja is a classic hit from Steely Dan and makes our list of one of the best drum solos because of the versatile style of drummer Steve Gadd. While we aren’t going to be headbanging to this track, it became an instant hit because of the improvised nature of the drum solo in the middle of the song. There is a progressive rock feel to it, and you also get hints of jazz, with both elements being blended to create one of the most memorable drum solos in all of music.
25. Overkill – Motörhead (Phil Taylor)
Phil Taylor is one of the most well-known drummers in metal because he gives us so many great drum solos, including in Overkill, which was one of the best songs released by Motörhead. In this track, you can hear the double-bass drum from start to finish, including in the middle of the song where Taylor shows off his skills in one of the best drum solos of all time.
The thrashing sounds of the drums throughout the track pulsate our bodies from head to toe, giving us electric energy and making us feel as if we were mere feet away from an explosive device as it detonates.
26. One Of These Days – Pink Floyd (Nick Mason)
In 1971, Pink Floyd released an instrumental track called One Of These Days, and while it’s a more subdued song, it contains one of the best drum solos of all time.
Legendary drummer Nick Mason doesn’t get a lot of credit for his work with Pink Floyd, but he has always been a powerful force behind the success of the band. In One Of These Days, you can feel the calm energy that he provides about halfway into the song, which makes you feel like you’re laying on a bed of clouds. The relaxing and poetic drumming in the tune makes us just close our eyes and drift off.
27. Black Betty – Ram Jam (Pete Charles)
In the 1970s, Ram Jam covered the track Black Betty, and it contains a great drum solo by Pete Charles that should be mentioned as one of the best drum solos of all time.
What makes this a great song is the fact that it’s strange, and the drumming along with other instruments is arranged quite chaotically, but it works. We will never forget when we first heard this song since it made us laugh, but the insane drumming at the end was what we’ve always remembered.
Recommended: Meaning of Ram Jam’s Black Betty song
28. Angel of Death – Slayer (Dave Lombardo)
Dave Lombardo might not be a household name since he is the drummer for the metal band Slayer, but he is one of the best drummers, which is obvious in the song, Angel Of Death. This track is a prime example of the thrash, pulsating, and thumping energy that metal fans love.
The rattle that you can feel deep within your soul from the double bass is at the end of this song, but you can feel the intensity and heat right from the beginning when he has a fill after the guitar introduction. When we listen to Angel Of Death, we feel like headbanging, and it’s one of the best drum solos of all time in metal.
29. Hot For Teacher – Van Halen (Alex Van Halen)
Whether you listen to rock music or not, you’ve come across Hot For Teacher at some point, and this song has one of the best drum solos ever created, which stands out because it’s the intro to it.
Alex Van Halen may be a rocker at heart, but this drum solo is a mix of musical genres and genius as he takes four bass drums and puts them together to make booming sounds that made us feel like we were in the middle of a fireworks show. The faster tempo of the drumming energizes us, and it’s a big reason why this track became such a hit and is still known by people throughout the world.
30. Wipe Out – The Surfaris (Ron Wilson)
One of the best drum solos you’re ever going to hear comes from the 1960s tune, Wipe Out with Ron Wilson creating the quick and vibrant drumming that starts within seconds of the track beginning.
Not only is the song catchy, but the drum solo is groovy and just makes us want to dance right from the start. We can feel the positive vibes in the song, and the drumming here just makes us feel alive.
31. YYZ – Rush (Neil Peart)
We can’t help but just jam when we hear YYZ by Rush because Neil Peart delivers one of the best drum solos ever, with this specific song showcasing his talents as a drummer. Listening to this track, we can feel the drum solo deep within our core, with electrical impulses being sent to and from our brains quickly as it continues. This instrumental goes from one fill to another and will take you on a deep journey of enlightenment.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.