The Best Drum Solos of All Time

Orchestra Central is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Drummers usually take a back seat behind lead guitarists and lead singers, but there are some drum solos that steal the show.

Karn Evil 9 – Emerson Lake & Palmer (Carl Palmer)

“Karn Evil 9” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer is a complex and ambitious piece of music that features three movements of impressive drum solos by Carl Palmer. The solos showcase Palmer’s technical skill (virtuosity) and musicality as he navigates through various time signatures and styles. The solos are also well-integrated into the piece’s overall structure, which adds to their impact.

Yyz – Rush (Neil Peart)

Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist for the band Rush, is one of the greatest drummers of all time. His technical proficiency and musicality are unmatched, and his live performances were legendary. His drum solos were a highlight of Rush’s live shows, and he was known for his ability to create intricate and exciting drum parts that captivated audiences. Peart’s drum solos were also highly influential, and many drummers have cited him as a major influence on their playing.

Aja – Steely Dan (Steve Gadd)

Steve Gadd’s solo in Aja uses dynamics and grooves to enhance the overall song. The solo is an excellent example of Gadd’s ability to play with precision and control while adding flair and style to the music.

Funky Drummer – James Brown

The drum solo, performed and recorded by Clyde Stubblefield in 1970, has been sampled in hundreds of hip-hop, R&B, and pop songs, making it one of the most widely recognized and influential drum performances in history. 

The solo is known for its rhythmic complexity, groovy feel, and dynamic build, all of which contributed to its lasting appeal and influence on subsequent generations of drummers.

Night in Tunisia – Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers

“A Night in Tunisia” is a challenging piece that requires the drummer to play a variety of rhythms and styles, including swing, bebop, and Latin, seamlessly and cohesively. The solo also requires the drummer to play at a fast tempo and to have a strong sense of time and groove. 

Art Blakey, who recorded the song with his group The Jazz Messengers, was known for his powerful and energetic drumming style. His solo on “A Night in Tunisia” is a prime example of his virtuosity. Blakey’s solo is also known for its technical proficiency, musicality, and ability to swing. It is also notable for its innovative use of time and rhythm and its creative use of dynamics and phrasing.

Sing, Sing, Sing – Gene Krupa

“Sing, Sing, Sing” is widely recognized and celebrated because of Gene Krupa’s innovative and energetic drumming style. The solo, recorded in 1937, is notable for its fast tempo, virtuosity, and musicality. 

Krupa’s use of the drum set as a solo instrument was groundbreaking at the time and influenced many subsequent drummers. The solo became a jazz standard, and many artists have covered it over the years. It remains a popular and enduring piece of music and is often cited as a highlight of Krupa’s career.

To continue reading, check out the original article published on Orchestra Central.


More from Orchestra Central

Featured Image Credit: Canva / Josh Sorenson

Cropped 4248 82828927163 4227904 N.jpg
Bobby is a viola player who currently lives in Seattle. He has been playing viola for over 20 years in various orchestras.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here