7 Best Drum Solos Of All Time, According To Music Fans

Drum solos can captivate audiences with their intricate rhythms, dynamic beats, and impressive displays of skill. From rock and roll to jazz to heavy metal, drummers have left their mark on music history with unforgettable solos that have become legendary. This is why today, we at StudyFinds decided to explore some of the best drum solos in history, delving into the technical prowess, creativity, and emotion that make these performances truly stand out. Join us as we take a journey through the drumming world and celebrate the incredible talent of these musicians.

Being able to absolutely obliterate the drums is a special talent that only few people can master. Research even shows that drummers have a different brain structure than the average person. The musicians on the list below, however, have definitely made a name for themselves, enough to earn a spot on the list of the top seven best drum solos in history. To make today’s ranking as accurate as possible, we at StudyFinds have researched across 10 expert sources to come away with a consensus list. If you feel we missed out on a good bit of musical history, we would love to hear from you in the comments below. Now, without further ado, onto the list!

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pair of brown wooden drumsticks on top of white and gray musical drum
Drums (Photo by Matthijs Smit on Unsplash)

1. “Moby Dick” (1969) by Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham 

The first solo to take up residence on our list is John Bonham of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick.” In any discussion of the greatest drum solos of all time, John Bonham must inevitably come up. His masterful work in “Moby Dick,” with its thrilling tempo and melody, could “bring anyone to their feet,” says Music Grotto

The skill with which Bonham builds the audience’s anticipation throughout the solo by alternating between tension and release is evident. He starts out loud, but then he calms down for a little waltz in memory of “jazz great Max Roach,” adds Business Insider. Bonham’s ability to seamlessly transition between different musical styles and tempos showcases his versatility as a drummer. Overall, his dynamic performance keeps listeners engaged and captivated until the very end.

It is difficult to disagree that Bonham is widely considered to be one of the all-time “greatest drummers,” notes Custom Bass Drum Head. With his powerful and innovative drumming style, Bonham helped define the sound of Led Zeppelin and influenced countless drummers in the rock genre. His thunderous drum fills and impeccable sense of timing added a crucial element to the band’s music, making him a standout figure in the history of rock and roll.

2. “YYZ” (1981) by Rush’s Neil Peart

Next up is the epic solo that resides within “YYZ” by Rush. With lightning speed, Neil Peart smashes drum notes in what seems like a single motion. On top of that, he added a xylophone to his drum set, mentions Custom Bass Drum Head. This fusion of traditional rock drumming with a touch of orchestral flair truly sets this solo apart as one of the most iconic in rock history.

Drum Magazine explains how this solo is actually based on the “rhythmic morse code of the Toronto airport location identifier.” Neil Peart masterfully incorporated this unique inspiration into his drum solo, creating a truly iconic and memorable performance. This clever use of Morse code adds an extra layer of creativity and depth to an already impressive musical composition.

Among the band’s many memorable moments, Neil Peart’s drum solo on “YYZ” stands out as a showcase for his prowess as a rock music legend, explains Gear 4 Music. With its intricate rhythms and technical precision, Peart’s drum solo on “YYZ” is considered one of the greatest in rock history, and his ability to seamlessly blend complex time signatures and dynamic fills has solidified his reputation as one of the greatest drummers of all time. 

3. “In the Air Tonight” (1981) by Phil Collins 

Next up is the iconic “In the Air Tonight.” We couldn’t legitimately compile a list of the finest drum solos “without including Phil Collins,” notes Gear 4 Music. Collins’ drum solo in this song is legendary, showcasing his incredible skill and passion for music. The build-up of tension and emotion throughout the solo is truly captivating, making it a standout moment in music history

Zero to Drum goes on to write about the difference in the sound of the drums used on the recording of “In the Air Tonight.” The explanation is actually the drums being refined, making the beginning of the sections more thrilling to listen to. This attention to detail in the drum production showcases the level of craftsmanship and skill that went into creating the iconic drum fill that has captivated listeners for decades. 

The 3:38 mark of “In the Air, Tonight” is noted as one of “the most iconic drum solos” in existence by Higher HZ and could have easily claimed the number-one spot in terms of recognizability. The drum solo serves as a powerful climax to an already intense song, adding an extra layer of emotion and intensity. It is no wonder that “In the Air Tonight” continues to be a timeless classic that resonates with listeners of all generations.

4. “Tom Sawyer” (1981) by Rush’s Neil Peart

Some may say “nay” to yet another Rush song, but, hey, the truth is in the drumming. And the drum solo on “Tom Sawyer” “rattles you like a thunderstorm, says Music Grotto, all thanks to the power of Neil Peart. The energy and intensity he brings to every performance, especially on a classic like “Tom Sawyer,” is truly electrifying. It’s no wonder that Rush fans continue to be in awe of his talent and the impact he has had on the world of rock music.

The “Tom Sawyer” drum feature is still imitated by thousands of drummers all over the globe, reports Zero to Drum. The intricate rhythms and quick tempo of the drum solo have solidified its place as one of the most iconic in rock music history. Many musicians continue to study and analyze Neil’s technique in order to replicate the energy and precision he brought to the performance.

Higher HZ describes how one can hear the deafening crash of drums about the 2:30 mark. It demonstrates skill and authority. The first step is to roll down each tom. Then, into a fill that has both bass and a toms working. Peart’s drumming on “Tom Sawyer” truly solidifies his reputation as one of the greatest drummers ever.

5. “Wipe Out” (1963) by The Surfaris’ Ron Wilson

Next on our list is the song “everyone in the ’60s wanted to be able to play,” says Higher HZ. “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris features a ripping drum solo by the band’s drummer Ron Wilson that lives in infamy. The energetic surf rock tune is instantly recognizable with its iconic drum intro and catchy guitar riffs. The song’s popularity endures to this day, often being featured in movies, commercials, and TV shows.

With the exception of the short cackled introduction, “Wipe Out” is mostly an instrumental track, according to Drum Magazine. Wilson specifically gets to showcase his drumming chops by contrasting the riffing and solos of guitarists Jim Fuller and Bob Berryhill with his own frenetic drum solos. The drum solo in “Wipe Out” has become one of the most iconic moments in surf rock history, solidifying Wilson’s reputation as a talented drummer. His energetic and dynamic playing adds a level of excitement to the song that keeps listeners engaged from start to finish. 

Zero to Drum goes on to say that if you’re a fan of pounding drums in your surf rock, then “Wipe Out” is indeed the song for you. The driving beat and infectious melody make it impossible not to tap your foot or nod your head along with the music. It’s a classic tune that never fails to get listeners in the mood for some fun in the sun.

6. “Toad” (1966) by Cream’s Ginger Baker 

Next up is the sixteen-minute instrumental by Cream, “Toad,” which features a stunning thirteen-minute drum solo, as described by American Songwriter. Ginger Baker’s drumming on this track showcases his incredible skill and innovative style, solidifying his reputation as one of the greatest rock drummers of all time. The energy and intensity of the solo captivate listeners, drawing them in and keeping them hooked until the very end. 

It was the solo by Cream’s Ginger Baker on their iconic 1966 instrumental “Toad” that really laid the groundwork for the rock music notion of a drum solo, says Far Out. Baker’s innovative use of complex rhythms and polyrhythms showcased his incredible skill and creativity behind the drum kit. The drum solo became a staple in live performances, allowing drummers to show off their technical prowess and improvisational abilities. 

Music Grotto describes Ginger Baker’s jazz roots as the reason why he so quickly became “rock’s first superstar drummer.” This fusion of genres not only helped him stand out in a crowded field but also paved the way for future generations of drummers to experiment with different musical influences. Baker’s jazz influence was truly the foundation of his legendary status in the world of rock music.

7. “Hot For Teacher” (1984) by Van Halen’s Alex Van Halen 

Last but certainly not least in the world of drum solos is Alex Van Halen’s work on “Hot for Teacher.” And as Zero to Drum describes, no matter how you feel about Van Halen, one can’t deny the talent behind the drums on this track. Alex Van Halen’s technical proficiency and energy elevate the song to new heights, showcasing his incredible skill and precision. His performance on “Hot for Teacher” is truly a masterclass in drumming, solidifying his place in music history.

After much speculation about the origin of the opening sound—originally thought to be a double bass drum—it was revealed to be the sound of an idling engine, says Higher HZ. However, the mystery behind it certainly helped propel the song to stardom. “Hot for Teacher” continues to this day to be a classic rock anthem that is instantly recognizable by music fans of all ages. The iconic guitar riff, catchy lyrics, and, of course, high-energy drumming all contribute to its lasting appeal. 

According to Killer Drum Rigs, this is an excellent song to listen to if you’re a drummer, describes Killer Drum Rigs. “Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen showcases Alex Van Halen’s impressive skills and technique. The fast-paced tempo and intricate rhythms make it a must-listen for any drummer looking to be inspired and motivated to improve their own playing. The energy and intensity of the song are sure to get any drummer’s adrenaline pumping and their sticks flying.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

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About the Author

Jilly Hite

New York raised and Florida-based Jilly Hite studied screenwriting and theatre at The Lee Strasberg Institute before becoming a full time content creator and podcaster. She loves old movies, musical theatre, and her pup Ted.

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  1. I think the very idea of having a top 7 list of records is pointless.Every person will have their own.For me Michael jacson or prince should not be on the list.It is am insult to all the other great soul artists like otis redding.Marvin gaye etc.Fleetwood macs first album with peter green is better than rumours and you don’t include Jimmie Hendrix or Dylan.I would not attempt to do a top 7 list because it is a stupid idea that only causes division.Each generation will have a different list.b

  2. Yes these are all great but how is it everyone forgets Joe Morello?
    Look up his drum solo on YouTube and then let me know what you think.

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