This is a guest appearance by our friend Gideon Waxman from Drum Helper.
The drums are an often underappreciated aspect of music. With the drummer sitting at the back of the stage, people often underestimate their talent, approach, and musical creativity.
In fact, the drummer offers an enormous contribution. The drums play their role as the life force of the music, as well as the glue that holds the music together. It’s the energy and vitality from the drums that allows listeners to truly connect with a song.
Therefore, I have compiled a short list of some of the greatest and most recognizable rock drum beats of all time that capture the essence of the song and compliment the music perfectly.
Without further ado, I present to you my top 10 most iconic rock drum tracks of all time!
10. Green Day – Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
This song is a modern-day rock classic! Drummer Tré Cool doesn’t overplay – allowing the song to flow evenly throughout. The drums perfectly compliment the ballad feel of the song, with the optimal balance of soft verse grooving and more aggressive chorus rocking out! Find the chords to “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” here.
9. Aerosmith – Walk This Way
The drums deliver an instantly recognizable intro, thanks to Joey Kramer’s driving kick drum syncopation and interesting use of the open hi-hat on the 1 beat. It’s expressive and groovy – just what’s required for this classic rock-‘n’-roll guitar riffing! Find the chords to “Walk This Way” here.
8. The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Meg White gets a lot of stick as a drummer (please pardon the pun). But the understated drumming in this song allows the guitar hook to shine through, and you can’t listen to this song without tapping your foot to the four on the floor kick! Find the chords to “Seven Nation Army” here.
7. System Of A Down – Chop Suey
The pummeling, no-holds-barred drumming within this song is an extraordinary feat of musicianship. John Dolmayan keeps the listener on the edge of his seat by executing fantastic chops and gut-busting tom fills with absolute ease. Find the chords to “Chop Suey” here.
6. Led Zeppelin – When The Levee Breaks
John Bonham is widely regarded as the greatest drummer of all time. His uncontested groove, matched with tasteful fills and rhythmic accents make his drumming the perfect compliment to Led Zeppelin like no other drummer could! Find the chords to “When The Levee Breaks” here.
5. Breaking Benjamin – Diary Of Jane
Chad Szeliga is simply an outstanding drummer, and his creativity and vision really shine through on this song. It’s almost like a solo the entire way through but without drowning out the guitar and vocals. Incredible double kick work, syncopation and cymbal effects make this a hit for me! Find the chords to “Diary of Jane” here.
4. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication
This drumbeat is distinctive yet remarkably simple. Chad Smith utilizes plenty of ghost notes and a quirky double-snare hit on the ‘2’ and ‘e’ of the bar to excellent effect; adding a strong, driving feel to the music. The drums really helped make this song a smash hit! Find the chords to “Californication” here.
3. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Dave Grohl’s introductory drum fill to this song is one of my personal favorites ever. It perfectly matches the aggressive mood and it is also superbly tasteful. The drumming throughout the song is very creative and is a testament to Grohl’s exceptional musicianship. Find the chords to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” here.
2. Queen – We Will Rock You
The iconic ‘boom boom clap’ is cemented in rock-‘n’-roll history as one of the most revered drum beats of all time. Incredibly simple yet effective, it will forever be the soundtrack drum beat to fill stadiums and encourage mass participation around the world! Find the chords to “We Will Rock You” here.
1. Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
No surprises here for the winner! The colossal build-up is a spectacular feat of musicianship and songwriting – all leading up to the monster drum fill that has simply become a drumming institution! It is as if the entire purpose of the song is the build-up for the drum fill that takes no prisoners. Find the chords to “In The Air Tonight” here.
About the author: Gideon Waxman is a London-based drummer with over 13 years experience, and is the drummer of metal act Familiar Spirit. You can find more of his tips at Drum Helper – a free online resource dedicated to helping drummers achieve more from their playing.