25 Most Distinctive Opening Drum Beats In Rock Music History

10 Of The Greatest Opening Drum Intros In Rock Music

Feature Photo: Bruce Alan Bennett / Shutterstock.com

Our 25 Most Distinctive Opening Drum Beats In Rock Music Historyarticle presents a collection of the most iconic drum grooves that opened up classic rock songs that are so good that they stand on their own as classic musical riffs. The first drummer we thought of and, of course, the first band we thought of when thinking about opening rock and roll drum grooves was John Bonham and Led Zeppelin. However, that causes a massive problem because there are just so many brilliant John Bonham drum introductions that we could easily fill up the entire list with. How do we deal with that? Well, we can’t.

We just have to pick one or two or maybe three and move on to all the others. There are also many other incredible drummers out there who also caused a lot of problems putting together a list like this. We’re probably going to get a lot of grief over this list because of all the songs not included on here that should be on here. Yeah, but it’s our job, so here we go. Here are the ones that came to mind first and foremost.

While there are so many songs that open with great drumming surrounded by the rest of the band, we limited this list to songs that opened only with the drums. Additionally, the drum intro had to stand out on its being instantly recognizable for the song that follows.

# 25 –  Rock And Roll All Night – Kiss

This is the perfect way to open up our list. The classic drum beat to the legendary Kiss song “Rock and Roll All Night” was performed by Peter Criss. The song appeared on the album Dressed To Kill. It would later become an even bigger hit when the live version was released on Alive!  It turned a lot of people on to KISS.

# 24 – We Got The Beat – The Go-Gos

The Go-Go’s classic rocker “We Got The Beat” was released on the album Beauty And The Beat. The album was released in 1981. Gina Schock played the drums.

# 23 – Bullet The Blue Sky – U2

The U2 song “Bullet The Blue Sky” was released on the album The Joshua Tree. The album was released in 1987. Larry Mullen Jr. played the drums.

# 22 – The Rover – Led Zeppelin

“The Rover” is the first of four Led Zeppelin songs to appear on this list. The reason is very simple. Ladies and Gentlemen, our favorite drummer of all time….. Mr. John Bonham. “The Rover” was released on Led Zeppelin’s best album, Physical Graffiti. The album was released in 1975.

# 21 – Rock Candy – Montrose

The Montrose song “Rock Candy” was released on the album Montrose. The album was released in 1973. Denny Carmassi played the drums. This legendary song would become the first recording that most rock fans had heard of the powerful voice of Sammy Hagar. It remains a rock and roll classic.

# 20 – Be My Baby – The Ronettes

This was more than just a classic drum beat for this particular song; this drum beat would be used in countless songs since becoming a part of that famous Phil Spector sound.  The song “Be My Baby” was released as a single in 1963. Hal Blaine of The Wrecking Crew played the drums.

# 19 – Rocket Queen – Guns N’ Roses

The song “Rocket Queen” was released on the album Appetite for Destruction. The album was released in 1987. Steven Adler played the drums. Duff “Rose” McKagan’s bass line that hooks up with this groove was just so tremendous. There were a lot of hookups on this one.

# 18 – Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2

Larry Mullen Jr. doesn’t get the credit he deserves for laying down some of the most iconic drum beats in classic rock history. This is one of his best. It’s not just about the grooves but also the tuning. The sounds of these drums were just so perfect for the meaning of the song.

# 17 – Over The Mountain – Ozzy Osbourne

While we have tried to avoid songs that open with rolling fills, this one is too good to ignore. The song “Over The Mountain” was released on the album Diary Of A Madman, which was released in 1981. Lee Kerslake played the drums. Make sure to listen to this all the wasy through because you dont want to miss that spectacular Randy Rhoads guitar solo.

# 16 – Peaches En Regalia – Frank Zappa

This is probably my favorite Frank Zappa instrumental. It starts out with a very cool drum line played by Ron Selico. That’s Shuggie Otis on bass. Remember when Al Kooper introduced him? The instrumental “Peaches en Regalia” was released on the Hot Rats album in 1969. I should be scared of that girl, but I’m just not for some reason.

# 15 – Mississippi Queen – Mountain

What did you say?  More cowbell??????

# 14 – 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

This is one of the longest drum openings on this list and one of the most iconic. There’s no doubt about this one when you first hear it. The song was released on the album Still Crazy After All These Years, which was released in 1975. Steve Gadd played the drums. Hop on the bus Gus!

# 13 – Walk This Way – Aerosmith

Everything about this song is iconic. The bass line, the guitar line, and those legendary Steven Tyler screams. Yet it all starts out with that Joey Kramer drumbeat. The song was released on the album Toys In The Attic. The album was released in 1975.

# 12 – Ballroom Blitz – Sweet

You probably forgot about this one, or if you’re under 40, you may have never heard it. Nonetheless, this is a rollercoaster of fun rock and roll drumming. The song was released on the album Desolation Boulevard in the US. The album was released in 1975. It also was released as a single a couple of years earlier in the UK. Mick Tucker played the drums.

# 11 – D’yer Maker – John Bonham

Once again, we return to the talents and groove of John Bonham with his great opening drum riff to the song “D’yer Maker.” The song was released on the album Houses Of The Holy. The album was released in 1973.

# 10 – Take The Money And Run – Steve Miller Band

We open the top 10 section of our 25 Most Distinctive Opening Drum Beats In Rock Music list with the Steve Miller Band classic “Take The Money And Run.” This is one of the most musical and original sounding opening drum beats on the list. The song was released on the album Fly Like An Eagle, which was released in 1976.

# 9 – My Sharona – The Knack

Continuing with our 25 Most Distinctive Opening Drum Beats In Rock Music list, we present the great song by The Knack called “My Sharona.” The song was released on the album entitled Get the Knack. The album was released in 1979. Bruce Gary played the drums.

# 8 – Roseanna – Toto

If you want to take a course in groove drumming or just learn what that means, the late Jeff Pocarro is the man to look up to. His introduction to the Toto song “Roseanna” is so smooth that it’s almost illegal.

# 7 – We’re An American Band – Don Brewer

This one has it all. It’s one of the most popular drum openings of all time. We spoke to Don Brewer about this one in great detail. He wrote it and then hit it out of the park with this killer opening. Mark Farner and Mel took it home with one of the greatest rock and roll trios of all time.

# 6 – Honky Tonk Women – Charlie Watts

The late Charlie Watts was the backbone of the Rolling Stones for so long. It is so sad that he is gone. This was one of his greatest moments on vinyl.

# 5 – Rock And Roll – John Bonham

Some may argue that this is the greatest rock and roll opening drum beat of all time. We would not put up much of a fight about it. For those who may not know, if there are any out there, Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” was released on the band’s fourth album issued in 1971.

# 4 – We Will Rock You – Queen

It’s amazing how such a simple beat became an anthem beyond just the rock and roll world. How many millions of time has this been played in sporting events around the world for the past five decades? Roger Taylor’s opening drum best defines the meaning of the word iconic.

# 3 – Wipe Out – The Safaris

Every person who learned to play the drums in the 1960s and ’70s tried playing this legendary piece of music. This is one of those opening drum riffs that pretty much was the entire song. It wasn’t just a riff. “Wipe Out” was first released in 1963.

# 2 – Hot For Teacher – Van Halen

Just off the top spot on our 25 Most Distinctive Opening Drum Beats In Rock Music list, we celebrate the song entitled “Hot For Teacher.” Not only is this the best Van Halen drum opening, I think it is the best song they ever recorded. Alex Van Halen had many shining moments in this band, but this was really special.

# 1 – When the Levee Breaks – John Bonham

We close out our 25 Most Distinctive Opening Drum Beats In Rock Music list with a drum intro that is a song just within itself. As we all know, there are so many iconic drum intros in classic rock history, but this one by John Bonham is almost indescribable. It is just so good. This was released on Led Zeppelin’s unnamed fourth album.

Special thanks to professional drummer Thomas Neokleous for his help with song selections.

25 Most Distinctive Opening Drum Beats In Rock Music History article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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  1. Avatar Baybluesman March 30, 2024
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