So often, when you think of a solo in music, it’s a guitar solo, right? Maybe you’ll get the odd bass solo, but a drum solo? It’s less unheard of than you might think, and we’ve got the tracks to prove it.
The following 25 songs are utter masterpieces because they let the guy behind the sticks get some time in the limelight. Here’s our list of the best songs with drum solos. Let’s get started!
1. “Moby Dick” by Led Zeppelin
|Genre/Style||Rock, hard rock|
“Moby Dick” is the first of several Zeppelin songs we’ll look at today. John Bonham is one of the most legendary drummers in the history of percussion, so it makes sense that he was given so many drum solos across Zep’s awesome and timeless discography.
The drum solo on “Moby Dick” kicks in about a minute into the song and is atmospheric, pulsating, and just plain impressive. It’s sort of like closing your eyes while fireworks are exploding and just listening. Bonham’s drum solo really makes this one of Zep’s best tunes!
If you want to play a drum solo of your own, check out the drum tabs to “Moby Dick” here.
2. “Toad” by Cream
“Toad” is an instrumental from Cream on the band’s debut album Fresh Cream, which came out in 1966. The five-minute track relents to the drums about a minute in, offering Ginger Baker the chance to do his thing. That’s exactly what he proceeds to do for the next three and a half minutes.
That’s right, almost the entirety of “Toad” is a drum solo. Sure, the other instruments come in toward the end to bring the song to its ultimate crescendo, but really, it’s an ode to Baker and his sterling percussion work.
3. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly
Iron Butterfly’s breed of psychedelic rock left a lot of room for experimentation. Just take the track “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” which means “the garden of life.” The track is 17 minutes long and talks about the biblical meeting of Adam and Eve. With such a sprawling track length, there’s indeed room for a drum solo.
Ron Bushy shows off his percussion chops for four minutes of the 17-minute track, so he definitely gets his time. His solo was so well received that Ringo Starr’s drum solo on “The End” was inspired by “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”
Although it’s not an easy song to play by any means between the drum solo and the sheer length, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” sure is a rewarding one. Check out the tabs here.
4. “The End” by The Beatles
|Genre/Style||Rock, psychedelic rock|
The connection between “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and “The End” is quite interesting, wouldn’t you say? Here’s another interesting fact: this was the last tune the Beatles recorded together, which makes the name that much more poignant.
Unlike “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” which had a long enough track length to have room for a drum solo, “The End” is only two-and-a-half minutes. Nevertheless, Ringo Starr gets his share of the spotlight. The drum solo might not be four minutes, but it’s distinct enough that it makes this historic track all the better.
Learn to play along by following the drum tabs here.
5. “YYZ” by Rush
|Genre/Style||Prog rock, rock|
Rush is a rock band known for its drum solos, as several tunes in the band’s discography feature isolated percussion moments from famous drummer Neil Peart. One of those is in “YYZ,” a heavy-hitting instrumental track.
The four-and-a-half-minute track features some of Peart’s best work. We know we’re focusing on drums in this article, but the sharp instrumentation from Geddy Lee has also been called among his best, so altogether, this song is just an in-your-face sonic assault, but in the best way possible, of course.
Check out the drum tabs here if you’re up for a real challenge!
6. “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris
In the category of songs everyone knows, there’s “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris. This surf rock classic is the audio equivalent of the sensation of riding the crest of the tallest wave, and it’s all due to the amazing percussion heard throughout this short but incredible tune.
The best moment for drum fans is around the one-minute, eight-second mark when that impeccable drum solo begins. The pace goes up a notch, the guitar riffs shorten, and for maybe 20 or 25 seconds or so, the drums are the star of the show. Then it all happens again no fewer than 30 seconds later.
You’ll get your daily workout in learning to play “Wipe Out,” but here are the tabs.
7. “Aja” by Steely Dan
|Genre/Style||Jazz rock, rock|
Is it fair to say that Steve Gadd changed the shape of the musical landscape with his drum solo on the Steely Dan song “Aja” from the eponymous album? Yes, we think so! This eight-minute, jazz-inspired song features an insane drum solo that you have to hear to believe.
Gadd did the solo in two takes that were edited together into one impressive solo. However, he didn’t have a part, per se. He was asked to come up with one on the fly, and after being told to “play like hell,” Gadd more than did his duty.
8. “Dance of Eternity” by Dream Theater
|Genre/Style||Prog metal, rock, metal|
Known in full as “Scene Seven: 1. The Dance of Eternity,” the Dream Theater track better known as “Dance of Eternity” features utter magic by drummer Mike Portnoy. The song is already amazing enough considering it has 108 time signature shifts across six minutes and 14 seconds.
Then you get to the drum solo. This instrumental song gets taken to new heights due to Portnoy’s pounding solo, which demands your attention and makes this song much more impactful for spotlighting the percussion.
We’ve got the drum tabs here if you think you can keep up with this complex song!
9. “Soul Sacrifice” by Santana
|Genre/Style||Latin rock, blues rock|
Of course, we have to include some Santana on this list, namely “Soul Sacrifice,” an instrumental that goes down in history as one of the best parts of the 1969 Woodstock festival. Santana is an amazing guitarist, truly one of the greats, so it takes a lot to keep up with him, but that’s exactly what percussionist Michael Shrieve does.
This song is essentially one giant drum solo. Sure, it features other instruments across six and a half minutes, but there’s really only one you’re thinking about the entire time you’re listening, and that’s the drums.
You can perform your own Woodstock-worthy rendition of “Soul Sacrifice” by following along to the drum tabs here.
10. “La Villa Strangiato” by Rush
Here’s another Rush track with a drum solo, “La Villa Strangiato” from the 1978 album Hemispheres. This song, which is 10 minutes and an instrumental, has 12 segments or parts. Neil Peart contributed to writing the music, which is perhaps why he ended up with the drum solo. Either way, we’re glad he did!
The solo starts at around the six-and-a-half-minute mark and is truly the stuff that prog rock dreams are made of. The guitar and bass ease back so Peart’s drumming prowess can show off to the fullest extent.
You can learn the drum solo with the tabs here.
11. “Keep Yourself Alive” by Queen
Queen has so many incredible songs in its discography, but for drum lovers, “Keep Yourself Alive” is one of the best. This track from the self-titled album Queen is a hard, aurally pleasing adventure across four minutes, but we’re talking about it because of the drum solo, so let’s dive in.
The solo starts at around the two-minute, 20-second mark, and although it’s not the longest thing, it’s a great interlude into the second half of this rock classic. You can learn to play like the greats with the drum tab for “Keep Yourself Alive” right here.
12. “Whiplash” by Metallica
We’re spotlighting “Whiplash” by Metallica from the rock masterpiece Kill ‘Em All because of its incredibly crazy, impressive percussion. Lars Ulrich has a lot of amazing songs on his resume, but this might be one of the top. The nonstop, blistering pace of the song, when combined with the moments of drum solo-age, creates a song that will give you, well whiplash.
The solos are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them moments where the sonic wall of instrumentation relents, but they’re impactful moments, nevertheless. They give the chorus that oomph and grab your ear, not letting go until the song concludes after four minutes.
You can learn how to play this metal classic by reviewing the tabs here.
13. “One Word” by Mahavishnu Orchestra
The Mahavishnu Orchestra was a 1970s group from New York City. Billy Cobman was the man behind the kits during the release of “One Word,” a sprawling, 10-minute track with a pretty killer drum solo, if we say! The solo kicks in at about six minutes.
The drums tip and tap as though creating a military cadence, then pick up the pace, eventually matching the top tempo of this tune, which is 118 beats per minute. The drums get nearly three minutes of solo time, and you can bet that Billy Cobman uses every second. If you’ve never heard this drum solo, go ahead and treat yourself today!
14. “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman
One of the most cherished jazz songs that has prevailed to modern times and is still just as beloved today is the Benny Goodman classic “Sing, Sing, Sing.” You might not recognize it by the title alone, but as soon as you hear a few seconds of it, you’ll instantly know it.
This thumping song is punctuated by a heavy drum solo about midway through the five-minute track. The drums shine on this entire track with their pulsing feel, but the addition of the drum solo really gives this instrument its rightful place to shine.
Although it’s not tonally the same as the other songs on this list, we had to include it because of its amazing percussion!
15. “Eruption” by Van Halen
Perhaps the shortest song on our list of the best drum solos is “Eruption” by Van Halen. This instrumental comes in at just shy of two minutes long. You might wonder where there’s room for a drum solo in a track that short, but don’t worry, it’s there.
This song also has a supersonic guitar solo, so there are a lot of solos to love in such a short track. That solo is regarded as one of the best of all time, which is typical of guitar solos, but is just another reason to check out this track.
If you’d rather play instead of listen, you won’t want to miss the drum tab right here.
16. “New World Man” by Rush
|Genre/Style||Prog rock, rock|
The hit single “New World Man” from Rush’s album Signals ended up topping the Canadian charts (where the band is from) yet was added impromptu to lengthen the album. Its massive popularity might have to do with the inclusion of a drum solo.
Interestingly, the synths get a lot of love on this track too, as they’re credited as being part of what made this song so appealing to the masses. We still think it’s the drum solo and Neil Peart’s awesome skills on the kit even when he’s not receiving the spotlight.
You can practice along to “New World Man” with these tabs.
17. “The Rover” by Led Zeppelin
|Genre/Style||Rock, hard rock|
Exceptionally heavy-hitting, here’s another Zep song that made room for John Bonham (in what we must say is quite a smart decision), “The Rover” from the 1975 smash hit album Physical Graffiti.
The prominent pulsating of the drums is the standout on “The Rover,” along with Jimmy Page’s incredible guitar. The song has never been played live in its entirety, so the only way to relive the classic percussion on this track is to spin a record or stream it. It’s always worth it to hear those spectacular drums.
You can also recreate the song yourself with these tabs.
18. “Apache” by The Shadows
The familiar riffage of “Apache” by The Shadows pulls you in, and the percussive mastery of Brian Bennett keeps you there. This English group shows its stuff on the track, especially Bennett around the one-minute, 35-second mark.
That’s when you can hear the riling drum solo. Combined with the jangly guitars that invoke the feelings of a John Wayne western, this is one of those songs you’ll play again and again. It’s the band’s biggest hit for a reason!
Here are the tabs so you can play like a pro.
19. “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon
Paul Simon’s hit “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” from 1975’s Still Crazy After All These Years is an upbeat-sounding song about a very somber topic: divorce. The melody swings into a drum solo quite naturally around the one-minute, 50-second mark of this track.
For a few blissful moments, it’s just Simon’s vocals and the drums, which jangle along with the vocals. The understated approach drives home that this isn’t the world’s happiest song despite what it sounds like. Then the song resumes its cheery chorus, and all is right.
20. “Tom Sawyer” by Rush
The last Rush song we’ll look at is “Tom Sawyer,” which is the best-known track from the legendary Canadian prog rock band. This song has some five-star drum fills, but it’s the solo we can’t stop oohing and aahing about. It makes what is already a very good song an absolutely unforgettable one.
Peart received a poem called “Louis the Lawyer” that inspired the lyrical story of Tom Sawyer featured in the eponymous song, so Peart was more than a drum machine, but a vital part of making the song happen. Us music fans are eternally grateful!
You can bang along on the kit to “Tom Sawyer” with these drum tabs.
21. “In My Time of Dying” by Led Zeppelin
|Genre/Style||Hard rock, rock|
One of the more serious songs in the Led Zeppelin catalog (at least lyrically) is undoubtedly “In My Time of Dying,” another hit track from Physical Graffiti. It’s an expanded tune that stretches across 10 minutes. In between the Jimmy Page guitar solos, there are a few John Bonham solos.
The song may be a cover (of a song also known as “Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed”), but Zeppelin works magic on this original gospel track, making it a rock-and-roller with solos galore. Bonham’s drums sound that much more impactful because of the reverb effect on the kit.
You can learn how to drum to “In My Time of Dying” with the tabs here.
22. “Fool in the Rain” by Led Zeppelin
|Genre/Style||Hard rock, rock|
Continuing our list of Led Zeppelin songs with the best drum solos, next is “Fool in the Rain” from In Through the Out Door. This song becomes a full-on mambo at around the two-minute, 30-second mark, which is quite an interesting inclusion, even for Zeppelin.
John Bonham’s ultra-powerful drums pound and hammer to the whistles and fast pace of the mambo beat. Then, about a minute later, it’s back to business as usual as the song’s main riff kicks in. This versatility proves just how good Zeppelin–and especially Bonham–were and are!
Of course we’ve got drum tabs if you’re interested in playing this song!
23. “Good Times Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin
|Genre/Style||Hard rock, rock|
One of the most distinct songs on Led Zeppelin I is “Good Times Bad Times.” It’s classic Zep at its finest across an accessible three-minute track. Each member of the band shines like a diamond, but we have to give it to John Bonham specifically for his work on this tune.
His pulsing drum solo interlaid with Jimmy Page’s guitar work gives this song a hard edge that will never go out of style. You can learn to play this tune behind the kit by following along with this drum tab.
24. “The Lemon Song” by Led Zeppelin
|Genre/Style||Hard rock, rock|
Okay, we’ve got one more Led Zeppelin song with a drum solo, and that’s “The Lemon Song” from Led Zeppelin II. This song with its sexually supercharged lyrics has some incredible drumming by John Bonham, especially the small solos that make this song an even more enjoyable listen.
Here’s another fun fact: John Bonham’s kit had a gong, and you can hear it at the start of the song. He liked to include a gong for so-called theatrical value. Check out the drum tabs to this Zeppelin classic right here.
25. “Rosanna” by Toto
|Genre/Style||Rock, classic rock|
We’ve got one more song on our list of tunes with the best drum solos, and it’s “Rosanna” by Toto. This classic ‘80s song features some of drummer Jeff Pocaro’s best percussion, especially the solo that mingles with the synths in the middle of this song.
Here’s a fun fact: Pocaro didn’t only contribute the drums to this song, but he worked with fellow bandmate David Paich to interlay those strong keyboard synths, so Pocaro is playing over his own synth work. That’s pretty awesome!
Play along to “Rosanna” with the drum tabs here.