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Top 10 Drum Songs

John Bonham of Led Zeppelin
Jeffrey Mayer, Getty Images
What, exactly, are drum songs? Easy – rock songs famous for their amazing drum parts. Whether they're playing from the head, heart, crotch, or some combination of the three, the drummers that helped create some of the most beloved music in rock history can be found on this list. Here we highlight 10 of the best drum songs ever.


Cream Fresh Cream
10

'Toad'

Cream
 
 
Drummer: Ginger Baker

As one-third of one of rock's first supergroups, together with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, Cream drummer Ginger Baker had both plenty of space to fill and a high standard to meet. He showed he was more than up to the task with this pioneering drum song, almost entirely consisting of his brilliant, layered tracks, from their 1966 debut 'Fresh Cream.'

 
Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced
9

'Fire'

Jimi Hendrix Experience
 
 
Drummer: Mitch Mitchell

Of course, the main story here is Jimi Hendrix's amazing guitar work. But, if you listen to this song from a drummer's perspective, it's pretty easy to hear that it's actually Mitch Mitchell's non-stop, propulsive rhythms and fills that give this song much of its energy and power, leaving Jimi free to dive in and out of the mix for even greater impact

 
Steely Dan Aja
8

'Aja'

Steely Dan
 
 
Drummer: Steve Gadd

For decades now, Steve Gadd has been one of the first names famous and discerning rock and jazz musicians from Chick Corea to Eric Clapton call when they need particularly sophisticated and impactful drumming. So it's no surprise that jazz-rock fusion innovators Steely Dan gave him an extended spotlight near the end of the title track for their 1977 masterpiece 'Aja.'

 
Tool Lateralus
7

'Ticks & Leeches'

Tool
 
 
Drummer: Danny Carey

Already one of the highest regarded drummers of his generation, Tool's Danny Carey clearly spent the extended break leading up to the band's third album, 2001's 'Lateralus,' further refining and expanding his skills. The effort pays off with the incredibly complex and intense work on drum songs such as 'Ticks & Leeches,' which moved the band deeper into prog-rock territory.

 
The Who Sings My Generation
6

'My Generation'

The Who
 
 
Drummer: Keith Moon

Pretty hard to pick just one drum song featuring The Who's original madman Keith Moon. As Pete Townsend's songwriting became more advanced on later songs like 'I Can See for Miles,' 'Won't Get Fooled Again' or 'Sparks,' Moon more than kept up with every subtlety while maintaining the explosiveness and fury displayed on this primal masterpiece from the band's 1965 debut.

 
King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King
5

'21st Century Schizoid Man'

King Crimson
 
 
Drummer: Michael Giles

The chorus from the opening track of 'In the Court of the Crimson King,' the 1969 debut album from these highly literate progressive rockers, was recently sampled by none other than Kanye West on his 2010 single 'Power.' But it's Michael Giles' complex, polyrhythmic drumming that blends all the time changes and wild solos into one (relatively) seamless flow.

 
Emerson Lake and Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery
4

'Karn Evil 9'

Emerson Lake & Palmer
 
 
Drummer: Carl Palmer

Welcome back, our friends, to the song that never ends. OK, we're exaggerating and paraphrasing a bit. But at over 29 minutes long, this epic drum song from progressive rock (what other genre?) trio ELP's 1973 album 'Brain Salad Surgery' gives drummer Carl Palmer plenty of room to show off his chops and his ability to direct a band through many tempo and mood changes.

 
Rush Moving Pictures
3

'YYZ'

Rush
 
 
Drummer: Neil Peart

Neil Peart has been proving himself as one of the most technically advanced drummers in rock for decades now. But if he and his bandmates are trying to avoid that "Nerd" tag, maybe figuring out how to play the airport identification code for their local Toronto airport in morse code on each of their instruments, as they do on this track from 1981's 'Moving Pictures,' wasn't the right move.

 
Van Halen 1984
2

'Hot for Teacher'

Van Halen
 
 
Drummer: Alex Van Halen

His innovative guitar hero sibling Eddie gets most of the attention, but Alex Van Halen has his share of awesome tricks on drums as well. He pulls out nearly every one of them during the introduction to this dream vision of what high school should be, taking a break from providing his usual rock solid foundation to match his brother step for step in both speed and creativity.

 
Led Zeppelin II
1

'Moby Dick'

Led Zeppelin
 
 
Drummer: John Bonham

There has not, and never will be, a true Led Zeppelin reunion. That's because the masterful combination of brains, brawn, rock, folk and yes, funk that the tragically deceased John Bonham displayed on the drums cannot be recreated, regardless of what nepotism and nostalgia has deluded some people into believing. Bonham is one of an elite group of drummers who could easily fill this whole list by themselves, and this solo showcase from Led Zeppelin II sums his magic up very nicely.

 

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