The 10 greatest ever drum intros
In the November issue of Rhythm the team have pulled together a massive list charting the 101 greatest ever drum intros. From Dave Grohl's iconic 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' pick up fill with Nirvana to the frantic tom pounding of Rat Scabies that kicks off The Damned's 'New Rose', these are iconic drum beats that have gone on to define many hit songs and become air drumming anthems for drummers and non-drummers alike.
We can excusively reveal the top 10 list here as Grohl, Bonzo, Peart and more battle it out for the top spot. Who will be crowned drum intro king? Read on to find out...
Iron Maiden - 'Where Eagles Dare'
As the opening track on Nicko McBrain’s first Iron Maiden album, we’d forgive Nicko for wanting to flex his muscles early on. And that’s what he did. The album starts with ‘Where Eagles Dare’, a track opened by a Nicko roll from snare to toms and back.
From the album Piece Of Mind (1983).
Foo Fighters - 'My Hero'
The first of three entries in the top ten from the mighty Grohl (with three different bands). A powerful, tom-heavy track and easily one of Dave Grohl’s drumming career highlights. And that’s saying something. The thumping backbeats and the toms were recorded separately and panned slightly off centre to give each their own weight and distinction. We reckon it worked a treat.
From the album The Colour And The Shape (1998).
Nirvana - 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'
Back-to-back Grohl! Of course this one had to be in there. This was the first time most of us heard Dave Grohl’s muscular playing, on the opening track of Nirvana’s crossover album Nevermind. The flammed intro in bar four was the sound of leftfield rock kicking the mainstream’s back doors in.
From the album Nevermind (1991).
Judas Priest - 'Painkiller'
The arrival of former Racer-X drummer Scott Travis helped bring a modern, thrashier sound to the Priest. Out were the keyboards, in were the double kicks – starting the album with a barrage of 16ths on the feet, accenting the down and up-beats with the snare and crashes before settling into a busy thrash groove.
From the album Painkiller (1990).
Led Zeppelin - 'When The Levee Breaks'
The first of two Bonham entries. A combination of astonishing, visceral performance and incredible sound. The foot-of-the stairwell placement of Bonzo’s kit gives the drums that unmatched depth – and you can feel the compressors straining under the force of his devastating right foot in particular.
From the album Led Zeppelin IV (1971).
Queens of the Stone Age - 'A Song For The Dead'
A nod to Grohl’s love for the Descendents’ Bill Stevenson and also a perfect taster for the electric energy that he brought to Queens Of The Stone Age. Pounding toms, neat fills and scattergun snare all over the top of a deeply hypnotic Josh Homme riff.
From the album Songs For The Deaf (2002).
Led Zeppelin - 'Rock and Roll'
John Bonham was surely the drum intro king, and the second track on Led Zep IV is one of his most celebrated and debated beats, inspired by rock’n’roll legends such as Little Richard and Chuck Berry. In particular, Bonzo’s beat borrows from Little Richard’s ‘Keep A-Knocking’, coincidentally another of our 101 greatest drum intros. Pile some of that dirty Bonham funk on top and you have a classic on your hands.
From the album Led Zeppelin IV (1971).
Guns N' Roses - 'You Could Be Mine'
Semiquavers played between the bass drum, toms and snare kick off Matt Sorum’s most famous drum part before he busts out a classic punk dum-dum-cha-da-da-dum-dum-cha beat. Learn it, then get a tiny motorbike and pretend you’re being chased by a robot from the future.
From the album Use Your Illusion II (1991).
Rush - 'Spirit of Radio'
Here’s where things really start to get tricky! Neil Peart joins this Rush classic with a crash and then proceeds to roll around the kit with some challenging tom fills. He caps it all off by entering the verse with a tempo change.
From the album Permanent Waves (1980).
Van Halen - 'Hot For Teacher'
...and in the top spot, arguably one of the most iconic drum intros in rock, and playing it is a holy grail for a lot of drummers. Alex Van Halen steps out of his guitarist brother Eddie’s shadow to shine with a blistering drum solo before kicking into a furious double-bass shuffle in a flurry of kick drum notes.
From the album 1984 (1983).
The full 101 Greatest Drum Intros list is featured in the November 2014 issue of Rhythm, including video lessons showing you how to play the top 10. The issue is available in print from all good magazine shops and in print and digitally via http://bit.ly/greatestdrumintros.
Check out a sample of the lessons below.