There’s no better feeling than playing hard and fast on the drums. It relieves stress, it makes you feel like a rockstar, and it even gives you a good workout depending on what song you’re playing.
As part of our series on the best drumming songs, we’re going to give you some of the best rock songs of all time where the drum parts are noteworthy. These are great to listen to if you love drums. They’re also amazing to learn how to play on the kit yourself.
- 1 Hot for Teacher – Van Halen
- 2 Moby Dick – Led Zeppelin
- 3 Rosanna – Toto
- 4 Run to the Hills – Iron Maiden
- 5 Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
- 6 Savior – Rise Against
- 7 La Grange – ZZ Top
- 8 Walking on the Moon – The Police
- 9 Toad – Cream
- 10 What I’ve Done – Linkin Park
- 11 YYZ – Rush
- 12 Follow You Home – Nickelback
- 13 Come Together – The Beatles
- 14 Pneuma – Tool
- 15 Truth Be Told – Megadeth
- 16 Spaghetti Western – Primus
- 17 The Pretender – Foo Fighters
- 18 Walk This Way – Aerosmith
- 19 Wipe Out – The Surfaris
- 20 Muse – Hysteria
- 21 Final Thoughts on the Best Rock Drumming Songs
Hot for Teacher – Van Halen
Hot for Teacher is one of the hardest drum songs to come out of the 20th century. It starts with a double kick pattern that is meant to resemble the sound of a motorbike starting, and then it kicks off into a driving shuffle groove with another double kick pattern.
Shuffle grooves are hard to play on their own, but Alex Van Halen stepped it up a notch with this track. The drumming is what made this song stand out as one of the best tunes from Van Halen.
Moby Dick – Led Zeppelin
If anyone ever asks you why John Bonham is considered one of the best drummers to ever live, you simply need to show them this song. Moby Dick is essentially just a drum solo with a short musical piece at the beginning and end of the song. Naturally, this makes it one of the best rock drumming songs ever.
Rock and blues bands often play this song if they want to give their drummer the spotlight in the set, and no drummer has ever complained about getting to play a lengthy drum solo at a live gig.
Rosanna – Toto
Jeff Porcaro made drumming history when he recorded this track with Toto. The groove is called “The Rosanna Shuffle,” and it’s what most people identify with whenever they hear a drummer playing any sort of half-time shuffle beat.
The groove is influenced by John Bonham and Bernard Purdie’s playing, but it’s regarded as one of the famous shuffles due to how fast it gets played. This is a fantastic drumming song to listen to. It’s also incredibly fun to play.
If you want to learn how to play the beat, we suggest learning the Purdie shuffle first.
Run to the Hills – Iron Maiden
Run to the Hills has a seriously iconic intro groove that has you playing 16th notes on the hi-hat. Every time you play the groove, you also open the hi-hat just before hitting a rack tom.
After the intro, the tempo speeds up significantly, making the drum part even better. It’s still based around 16thnotes, but this part has a quick backbeat rhythm on the snare drum.
The combination of a laidback intro with driving verses and choruses gives the track a lot of variety, and that’s the main reason why it’s such a fun song to play on the drums.
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Dave Grohl was a famous drummer before he ever led a band as a frontman, and his drumming in Smells Like Teen Spirit was one of his best contributions to Nirvana. The drumming here is hard and very energetic.
It’s another iconic intro groove in music history, and it’s the beat that most drummers learn when they get bored of playing basic 8th note beats.
If you want to play a song on the drums where you feel like bobbing your head hard, you can never go wrong with playing Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Savior – Rise Against
Rise Against’s popularity was massive in the early 2000s, and a lot of their songs had up-tempo grooves that incorporated double kicks just before every backbeat. One of the band’s most iconic songs was Savior, and the drumming in this track is incredible.
The choruses are all loud and proud on the cymbals, while the verse has the same groove played on the floor tom instead of the cymbals.
If you want to listen to a tune that is a lot faster and bordering on the punk style, this is an excellent one to check out.
La Grange – ZZ Top
Here’s a track with a hard shuffle groove played on the drums. It starts with gentle swing rhythms being played on the rims, but the best part of the song is when the drums play a leading fill into the open shuffle groove.
The band gets louder, and Billy Gibbons singing, “haw, haw, haw,” makes the track infinitely better. If you ever play this song with a cover band, it’s tradition that the vocalist includes that part.
If you’re working on your straight-ahead shuffles on the drums, this is one of the best songs to play along with.
Walking on the Moon – The Police
Stewart Copeland was a master at integrating different musical styles within his rock drumming parts for The Police. Walking on the Moon is a classic example of that, as it draws heavy influence from reggae drum parts.
This is one of The Police’s earlier songs, but it’s one of their best ones when it comes to drumming. Unlike the other rock songs on this list, it’s quite laidback throughout the whole tune. So, make sure to show restraint when playing it with a band.
Toad – Cream
Toad is a similar song to Moby Dick, but this one has slightly longer musical intros and outros. It’s similar as it’s also a song centered around a drum solo. Ginger Baker was the drummer of Cream, and he brought more jazz drumming techniques into his playing compared to the rock-solid playing style of Bonham.
So, it’s great to listen to this track in contrast with Moby Dick to see how different rock drummers approach playing lengthy solos. Ginger Baker’s solo in this is incredibly musical.
What I’ve Done – Linkin Park
The beauty of the drumming part in this track is its simplicity. The same groove gets played the entire song, and the drumming just switches from crash cymbals to hi-hats, depending on whether it’s a verse or chorus being played.
The reason we’ve put this track on the list is that the song wouldn’t be the same without this exact drum part. It’s the perfect example of how well a certain groove fits a song, and it makes it sound a lot better than if it were to have any other groove.
YYZ – Rush
YYZ has one of Neil Peart’s best drum parts with Rush. The intro is in 10/8, and the rest of the track has driving drum grooves that switch as the instrument parts progress. It’s very easy with songs like this to see why Neil Peart was considered one of the best drummers ever.
This is pure progressive rock in its finest form, and the drum parts in progressive rock are always amazing.
The track was also one of Neil Peart’s drum solo songs. Crowds would always know what was coming when the band started playing it, and that makes the drum part even more exciting.
Follow You Home – Nickelback
While Nickelback doesn’t have the best reputation out there, you can’t deny how good all the drum parts are in all their songs. This track starts with a very strong double kick drum pattern, as well as a driving ride bell.
The verses have fairly mellow drum grooves, but things open up drastically in the choruses. If you want to listen to plenty of hard and vibrant rock drumming, just listen to all the Nickelback songs where Daniel Adair is playing.
Come Together – The Beatles
While Ringo Starr was never known to be one of the most extravagant drummers, he had an amazing ability to create the perfect drum parts for different songs. One of the most recognizable ones is the intro drum part to Come Together.
This drum kit motive repeats throughout the tune, solidifying how appropriately it fits in the song. The track is an amazing classic rock song that is loads of fun to play drums to.
Pneuma – Tool
Danny Carey is an absolute monster of a drummer. If you ever want to see proof of that, just watch this entire clip of him playing all the drum parts for Pneuma by Tool. The drum parts are so diverse and musical, and they’re all incredibly complicated.
This band takes progressive music to the next level, and we don’t think there is any drummer better than Danny Carey to elevate the band with his creative drumming.
Truth Be Told – Megadeth
This track has an interesting story that many drummers won’t believe. Surprisingly, the drums were tracked by Vinnie Colaiuta, who is most known for being a jazz and jazz fusion drummer. He was hired to track drums for this particular album, and he killed it with every song.
Truth Be Told is one of the better songs on the album when it comes to drum parts. It has an incredible group of drum fills in the intro, and then the rest of the tune has some solid playing from Colaiuta.
Spaghetti Western – Primus
Primus is one of the wildcard bands of the rock music world. A lot of their songs have deeper meanings that get misunderstood due to how wacky the music is. Whether you like the band or not, just listen to how amazing the drum groove is in this particular track.
Tim Alexander plays a quick tom roll in every bar that leads to a solid backbeat in the rest of each bar. It sounds like it’s just a groove for the intro, but it repeats throughout most of the song, and it sounds better and better the longer you listen.
The Pretender – Foo Fighters
Here’s another rock song that will always give a drummer pure joy when they play it. Taylor Hawkins smashed it with this track, and his drumming will live on forever through it and the rest of every Foo Fighters tune.
The drums come in with strong quarter notes on the snare drum after the intro, and then there’s a strong 8thnote groove that drives all the other sections. Those two grooves get played interchangeably throughout the tune.
Walk This Way – Aerosmith
The intro groove to Walk This Way is one that most musicians will recognize whenever they hear it. It’s extremely recognizable, but it’s also loads of fun to play on the drums.
The chorus parts have a similar groove, but the intro hits are played on cymbals instead of on open hi-hats.
A cowbell part comes in later in the track, and that elevates the excitement of the drum part even more.
Wipe Out – The Surfaris
There aren’t too many songs out there more famous for having a great drum part than Wipe Out by The Surfaris. It starts with a drum solo on the toms, and that same solo gets played repeatedly at different stages of the song.
It’s another song on this list that is just pure fun to play. It’s also a great listen for whenever you want to hear a song with drums at the center of the whole thing.
Muse – Hysteria
Hysteria starts with an epic bass line while the drums play simple kicks and flams. The cool part is when the drums kick in with a disco-like groove at the same time as the main guitar line being played.
That same groove gets played in the verses, but the kick drum patterns get varied instead of keeping to four on the floor.
Final Thoughts on the Best Rock Drumming Songs
You would have found from that list that rock drumming is a lot more diverse than many people think it is. You also have different eras of rock to focus on. Rock drumming in the 60s was a lot different from how rock drumming is now, and it’s good to listen to songs from every time period.
If you want to find more rock songs with incredible drum parts, look for songs played by rock legends like John Bonham, Stewart Copeland, Charlie Watts, and Neil Peart.
For more modern rock playing, check out guys like Aric Improta, Gavin Harrison, Scott Phillips, and Chad Smith.