Ranking the 10 Best Live Drum Solos Recorded in Rock History

It's more than just pots and pans in here.

Matt Branhamby Matt Branham
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

There’s always plenty of talk of the best frontmen in rock and the greatest finger-licking guitar solos, but what about those little drummer boys? Yes, you, the lonely guys in the back. It’s time you got your comeuppance and received some recognition for your banging on the tubs. Watch as we rank the 10 best drum solos ever recorded in rock history. After seeing these guys, you’ll probably convert your home into a little drum station, just before your wife takes the pots and pans back to make dinner.

Ranking the 10 Best Drum Solos Recorded in Rock History

10. Travis Barker (Blink-182)

Lest we forget, the man’s body was on fire in a plane crash not that long ago. One of pop punk’s fastest and most badass, Barker continues on with Blink-182, delivering this 2011 solo of its own, less than three years after said plane crash in which four people died.

9. Ginger Baker (Cream)

We just love how delicious his name and this band name sound together, Ginger Baker Cream. Most people think of Eric Clapton when they hear the band’s name, but Ginger Baker delivered some of the best drum kit hits during their brief existence. Now at 77 years old, it’s been 12 years since their last reunion.

8. José Pasillas (Incubus)

He’s a California native, but this three-piece drum collaboration between Incubus frontman, bassist, and drummer (Pasillas) prefaces an incredible solo drum solo amidst Colorado’s gorgeous Red Rocks in 2004. The show was released on DVD for the band’s record A Crow Left of the Murder.

7. Lars Ulrich (Metallica)

Although Lars is considered one of the best drummers in rock history, our disdain for Metallica makes it slightly difficult for us to be unbiased with our ranking, but he is definitely one of the greats. This live recording from the ’90s puts proof in the proverbial pudding.

6. Dave Grohl (Nirvana)

While we’ve spent enough time over the past two decades getting to know him as the man on the mic for Foo Fighters, we tend to forget Grohl was one-third part of the ’90s greatest representation of grunge rock. If you need a further reminder, have a look at this live clip from the early ’90s and see a very different Dave Grohl.

5. Ringo Starr (The Beatles)

Oh, sweet Ringo. He wasn’t a man of the drum solo much while playing short pop songs in the ’60s, right before The Beatles were forced to quit touring, but if you had a chance to catch him open Liverpool ’08 with the “Abbey Road” drum solo, you’d get a good reminder why he was one of the four Beatles to begin with. And let us not forget, he wrote “Octopus’s Garden.”

4. Neil Peart (Rush)

“Tom Sawyer” was always a favorite Rush drum moment, but this Neil Peart school for young drummer boys live in Frankfurt will make you see drumming in a whole new light. Also, it’s high-def, which is more than we can say for most of these awesome clips.

3. Keith Moon (The Who)

Keith Moon was kind of the man. Whether he was putting gun powder in his drum kit for an explosive set or just banging away on the tubs like there’s no tomorrow, we felt The Who from decades away because of this man. No band has ever been so well matched between its drummer, guitarist, and frontman. “My Generation” was a popular drum moment for Moon, but this drum solo from 1974 rounds it up pretty nicely, just four years before his death.

2. John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)

Whenever anybody mentions the greatest drum solo of all time, any experienced music aficionado turns to their boy, Bonham. John Bonham had a seamless way of bridging the gap of any Led Zeppelin song, most notably “Moby Dick.” I remember watching live DVDs of Bonham when I was in college, just being completely in awe of how someone could move like that with two sticks in their hands.

1. John C. Reilly (Stepbrothers) – The F**king Catalina Wine Mixer

When it’s too difficult to choose or too subjective to rank something, always go with the obvious choice: “It’s the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer!” And sure, it may have not been live, but John C. Reilly’s heart-filled banging on the drums, no matter how ill-timed or callousing to the ear drums is an inspiration to us all. Boat and hoes, my fellow music lovers. Boats and hoes.

And then you have these crazies: The 11 Biggest Onstage Rock Star Meltdowns