11 Best Rock Drum Solos of All Time

Best Rock Drum Solos of All Time

No one plays a good drum solo quite like a rock drummer. Most rock drum solos have the perfect mix of flashiness, technical skill, and raw power. 

Over the years, some great names in drumming have tracked incredible solos that have gone on to live forever. 

For this list, I’m going to show you the best drum solos and explain what makes them so good. Some of my picks are obvious options, while a few others may be a pleasant surprise.  

John Bonham – Moby Dick

Moby Dick was the song that Led Zeppelin always played to give John Bonham the stage. While he basically stole the show in every other Zeppelin song, this one was written just to give him an extended drum solo. 

When people refer to John Bonham being one of the best rock drummers in history, his Moby Dick classic rock drum solo sections are often the focus. 

My favorite thing about this solo is how he plays incredibly strong triplet rhythms around the kit. He creates a galloping sound that is seriously effective. He did this so much in his playing that they started to become referred to as “Bonham Triplets”. 

I also love how sensitive he plays in parts of the solo. A lot of people think Bonham was just a loud and proud drummer, but this solo shows how musical he could be. 

Neil Peart – YYZ

Neil Peart is another legendary drummer that played some amazing drum solos with Rush over the years. The most iconic Rush song that always included an extended drum solo is called YYZ. 

The album recording of this song has quite a distinct shorter one, but Neil always played much longer solos at the band’s live shows.

Most of this solo is based around single stroke rolls. It’s the most simple rudiment that everyone learns first when playing drums, but I love how Neil Peart makes the solo sound complicated. He orchestrates the pattern in unique phrases around the kit, creating a really complex sequence. 

Another iconic part of the solo is when he plays a small melody on a xylophone and then responds with more cool drum licks. 

Ron Wilson – Wipeout

The most interesting thing about this drum solo is that everybody knows about it, but most people don’t actually know the drummer who played it. His name is Ron Wilson, and he created one of the most iconic drum intros ever with his tom patterns in Wipeout. 

The whole song is basically one long drum solo, as he moves to the repeating tom patterns multiple times throughout the tune. 

Like with Neil Peart, he’s only playing single stroke rolls, but I think it’s so impressive to see how he’s orchestrated them around the kit to sound big and full. 

Another cool thing about this solo that I really like is that it’s not all that hard to learn. It’s mostly its popularity that makes it one of the best rock solos of all time. 

Ginger Baker – Toad

This is one of my personal favorite drum solos ever, as Ginger Baker has always been a massive influence on my playing. 

Like Led Zeppelin and Moby Dick, Toad was a song that Cream always played to give Ginger Baker room to blow people’s minds with a good solo. 

While the solo differed from show to show, Ginger Baker often based it around an Afro-Cuban feel. This makes it sound like a musical tribal style solo.

The thing I find so interesting about Ginger Baker is that he was a jazz drummer playing rock music. So, all of his grooves, fills, and solos had a tasty amount of flair. He often included both latin and metal textures in his playing.

This is one of the top modern drum solo clips on this list that I could listen to every day on repeat. 

Ian Paice – The Mule

Ian Paice is honestly one of the best rock drummers ever, and I love how diverse his drum solo in The Mule is. Yet again, this is a song from a rock band that was mostly written to include a long solo. 

It was a common trend for classic rock bands, and I think they liked the idea due to the rest of the band being able to get a bit of rest on stage. 

This drum solo has everything you could ask for. There are fast patterns, intricate coordination segments, and plenty of parts to directly impress a crowd. 

One thing I’ve grown to like about Ian Paice is that he plays with a left-handed setup. There aren’t many pros who do this, and I just think it’s great for left-handed players to have pros like this to be inspired by. 

Alex Van Halen – Hot for Teacher

Alex Van Halen created a strong bit of music history when he tracked this song in the studio. It starts off with a drums-only intro, which you could technically consider a drum solo. 

The whole idea behind this drum part is that he’s creating the sound of a motorbike being started up. It’s super heavy on the bass drum at first. It then goes to some tasteful floor tom patterns, and then it finally expands to a full-on shuffle pattern with a strong double kick drum base. 

It’s such an iconic solo, and I spent far too long trying to learn this a few years ago. I eventually found out that the studio version has two drum parts playing at the same time, but Alex Van Halen always managed to jam this out impressively at live shows. 

Scott Travis – Painkiller

This one borders on the heavy metal side of things, but I’d still consider it an influential solo for rock drummers. 

Scott Travis starts this song off with a killer double bass drum groove. The first part of the pattern has insane speed coming from his feet, and then he slows it down to play a more solid and powerful groove just before the guitar comes in. 

Throughout the whole thing, he’s playing cymbal shots to make the solo sound even more aggressive and punchy. 

This was another solo that I spent ages trying to learn when I first got a double pedal. The drum solo kicks are so fun to play!

Mitch Mitchell – Fire

When you play drums with one of the best guitarists in history, you have to always be on your toes and step it up when it’s your time. That’s exactly what Mitch Mitchell did every time the band played Fire. 

He was always given a slot to play a drum solo, and there were some incredible renditions over the years. Most Hendrix songs include a guitar solo, but the drum solo is what made this one so memorable. 

The particular one that I’ve linked here is my favorite. I just love all the patterns that Mitch Mitchell plays between his ride cymbal, snare drum, and bass drum. They’re seriously musical. 

Danny Carey – Forty Six & 2

Here’s another rock tune that includes an impressive drum solo by Danny Carey. The song slowly builds and then culminates in the drum solo near the end as the music hits its climax. 

While most of the other songs include extended solos, this one is more of a set thing that Danny Carey plays every time. 

So, you know what to expect when the band plays this tune live, but it’s still incredible every time he starts the solo. 

I honestly think Danny Carey is one of the best drummers in the world at the moment, and this has always been a solo that I love listening to. His rock drumming abilities are incredible. 

Carter Beauford – Say Goodbye

Say Goodbye by the Dave Matthews Band starts with Carter Beauford playing a light drum solo while a flute plays a melody. However, the band always lets Carter start it off on his own when playing the tune at live shows. 

The opening drum solo has become one of the most iconic parts of the band’s set, and the thing I like the most is how Carter Beauford uses rute sticks to play this solo. 

He gets a much lighter sound out of the drums, giving a great fresh feel to the whole thing compared to other, much heavier drum solos.

Steve Gadd – Aja

Steve Gadd changed the game when he played drums on Aja. He added in a drum solo to end the song off, which was very unusual for what was considered a “pop” song at the time. 

Steve Gadd is often considered to be one of the most influential drummers ever, and this track is one of the biggest reasons for that. He apparently tracked the song in a single take while being hungover, which is super rock ‘n’ roll!

He plays a bit of a solo along with Wayne Shorter’s sax solo, but it’s the outro that everyone highlights when mentioning Steve Gadd’s impressive playing ability. It’s also just one of the most memorable drum solos ever.


There are far more legendary drum solos to mention, but the ones we looked at above tend to stand out above the rest. 

All of the best drum solos feature some amazing playing from top-tier drummers that influenced rock music. I highly recommend listening to each song and really studying what each drummer plays. There are some inspirational bits to take from every single one.

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