The Six Best Drum Fills

Categories: Nitpick Six

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In rock and roll, singers get the attention, guitarists get the glory and bass players usually just have to show up. It's the drummers of the world who often put in the most effort for the least return, lugging ten times the equipment and playing twenty times as hard as the rest of the band. Occasionally, these specimens partake in the questionable practice of the extended solo. More often than not, drummers' greater contributions to songcraft come in the form of brief fills. To celebrate the percussive martyrs of the world, here are the six best drum fills. As always, feel free to let us know what we forgot in the comments.


6. Green Day - "Basket Case" (0:37)
Speed is a virtue. Green Day drummer Tre Cool understands this, but unlike his more famous and more proficient pop-punk cohort Travis Barker, Cool usually keeps his technical abilities in his back pocket in the name of taste. The entrance to "Basket Case" is his best instance of letting loose in Green Day's twenty year catalog. And it's absolutely effective, boosting the dynamic of the song as he interrupts Billie Joe Armstrong's palm muted intro. Toward the second half of the fill, he goes into Animal-from-Muppets mode. It's as if his hands have taken over and his brain is thinking "oh my god what am I doing I can't believe I'm playing this!" And then Cool crashes a cymbal and pushes forward into his signature midtempo beat, Earth's axis realigns, Pluto is a planet again and all is right in the universe.


5. Heart - "Magic Man" (4:06)
After an intense prog-out, the drum fill that leads "Magic Man" back into becoming a rock song is not that special on its own. Within Heart's greatest recorded accomplishment, the simple snare and tom phrase is perfect. It descends alongside a melting synthesizer, and right where any other band would break out the chorus and call it a day, Heart walks us into a smoke filled room where angelic harmonies share a make-out couch with congas. The drum fill is the beaded curtain.


4. Black Sabbath - "Iron Man" (1:30)
If this list was the drum edition of our "Six Best Bad Guitar Solos" list, "Iron Man" would take the top spot. Those who remember this song but haven't listened to it in the past few years likely recall a heavy rocker with the confidence of a suited-up Rodney. 'Tis not the case. Sabbath drummer Bill Ward could not be further from the solid drummers of metal today. Even the disciples in the stoner Black Mountain/the Sword/Boris schools have more chops. But Ward's relative inability in the Paranoid-era made Sabbath rock in the same way that Meg White is heavier than Lars Ulrich, the feeling where every fill makes you cross your fingers and hope he/she/it makes it out alive on the next measure. This vibe is best captured in "Iron Man" when the second of the song's few dozen guitar hooks end and Ward is allowed a few brief, frightening, and utterly transcendent moments to shine.


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21 comments
flexmaster
flexmaster

stopped reading when you said Travis Barker is more proficient than Tre Cool

fuck you guys and your shitty list

Guest
Guest

This is really great info., to share at www.nextgreatdrummer.com

Big_oaf2
Big_oaf2

     I like the fill that Taylor Hawkins does at the end of "Learn to Fly" by Foo Fighters.

Jesus-is-myson
Jesus-is-myson

sound like jealousy to me, you picked the drums as your weapon of choice so deal with it!

Mike
Mike

The Beatles - "Rain"

Jon Seals
Jon Seals

No drummers created this list, right? Almost every Led Zepplin song has John Bonham doing better fills than these.

John
John

Like Meg White could do a fill...

Billie Ryan Cool
Billie Ryan Cool

Hey! GREEN DAY!!! They should be #1! GREEN DAY is the best!!!

Kidzoconnor
Kidzoconnor

wo wo wo! why is Tre Cool number 6??!! He should be #1!!!!  Basket Case is some crazy STUFF!!!! GREEN DAY RULES!

Backwardzbiker
Backwardzbiker

I can understand that you picked Green Day as some of thier songs have some pretty awesome fills, but the song Basket Case? Really? Thats nothing, try Burnout instead.

meszaro1
meszaro1

Please don't insult our intelligence.  Two snare drum hits in a row do not qualify as a "drum fill" much less the second best drum fill of all time. 

Brian
Brian

Keith Moon - Won't Get Fooled Again has to be the most iconic drum fill.  And when he's going at ludicrous speed during Amazing Journey/Sparks, it doesn't get much better than that.

The fill that Dave Grohl does at the end of "A Song for the Dead" off of QTSA's Songs for the Deaf is pretty monstrous.

The beginning of Tool's "The Grudge" is just insane.

And then when Lars Ulrich hit the snare drum 4 times - IN A ROW!!!!!

Bennettsdada
Bennettsdada

What about Rushs Tom Sawyer? An obvious choice for this list. Neil has a number of fills in that song and is by far a greater drummer than anyone on this list. Who made this list, obviously someone who's not a real music fan. They left out Radar Love by golden earring. Not to mention a ton of stuff better than Greenday? I will give you Phil Collins but the rest of this list needs help.

Sh0rtbus
Sh0rtbus

6)Ginger Baker: Politician5)Keith Moon: To many to list...4)Chester Thompson: More trouble every day-Zappa3) Carl Palmer: Karn Evil 92) Nick Mason: Time1) John Bonham: Rock and Roll

king kong
king kong

SLAYER - ANGEL OF DEATH! THE BEATLES - COME TOGETHER! 

Jonezy
Jonezy

I LOVE this list!! I'd like to nominate Wilson Phillips "Hold On" for an honorable mention..lol. hilarious!

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