“Playing drums is my therapy,” confesses a certain Travis Barker.
The punk rock stalwart was considered by many as being single-handedly responsible for the genre’s renaissance in the early 90’s just by his need to beat the drums like his life depended on it. While banging out anthems with Blink 182, pop-punk legends in their own right, Barker’s drum solos would often be the highlight of any given night. As soon as he gets into rhythm, you fall in his control.
That’s the power a drum solo holds – the ability to dictate your adrenaline by the banging of tubs. It’s time the ones at the back got recognition for their responsibility, we’re going to give you 10 of the best drum solos – through the years and genres.
Let’s start with Travis Barker himself. It wasn’t easy to pick just the one from so many of his incredible performances, but if there was to be one that showcased the man’s versatility, this would be it – playing the drums over a genre-bending mix.
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich is known to carry his eccentric behaviour with him to his drums. If not for his crescendos or his fluttering snare work, he’ll always be recognised for playing drums standing up and tongue waggling.
Talk about best drum solos ever, and you’re sure to hear Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham thrown into the mix. Particularly known for his artistry in bridging the gaps of any Led Zeppelin song, his work in Moby Dick deserves all the plaudits.
No one dominates a kit quite like Rush’s Neil Peart. Give him half a second, and he’ll have you a rhythm ready. Take this performance for instance, making it all look very easy with precise technique.
The Who were a massive part of the Mod movement, not least for drummer Keith Moon’s self-destructive nature. Apart from hiding gunpowder in his drum kit for a literally explosive set, Moon’s well-loved for his fixation with his drums, portrayed beautifully in the solo above.
We’ve got time for jazz too, and can’t look further than the iconic Buddy Rich. You may recognise the name from Miles Teller’s character’s idol from Whiplash, and now you can see just why. Buddy started performing before the age of two – dazzling audiences is in his nature.
And of jazz, Gene Krupa deserves a mention too. Always playing with a smile on his face, this version of “Sing, Sing, Sing” was the first commercially recorded song to feature a drum solo, and showcases Krupa’s singular technique beautifully.
Give your jazz a bit of funk, and you’ll have Dennis Chambers’ delicious beats. He’s played drums with many bands, including Parliament-Funkadelic and Santana, and here you see Chambers so caught up in the groove that he doesn’t even need his eyes open.
The Slayer drummer was dubbed the percussionist of his generation, and the godfather of the the double-bass technique. Hard to miss why with this drum solo!
Not quite a drum solo, but Jonah here deserved a shoutout. At the nimble age of 6, he’s mastered the double ride, a technique that grew to fame with Avenged Sevenfold’s The Rev. You’ll find all of Jonah’s drum covers and onstage appearances with his idols here, starting from the age of just 4.
Think you’ve got the chops to nail down your own drum solo? It’ll come with lots of practice, and if you’re looking for the gear to get you there, check out Swee Lee’s flagship store, or our speciality Drum Shop down at Peninsula Shopping Center. See our store locations here.
And if you’re just starting your drum journey, learn the right way from our excellent teachers at the Swee Lee Music Academy.