When you think of rock, metal and similar bands, you probably picture lead singers in the front, guitarists and bass players next to them, and then the drummers somewhere in the background. It’s like they never get the credit they deserve for the outstanding skills that significantly add to the rhythm of the whole performance. But, if you are in any way related to music, if only being a super big fan and trying to learn to play an instrument like this, then you are definitely aware that the drummer can easily be thought of as the backbone of the band. Learn more.

With their tremendous energy and a lot of skills that often go unnoticed, drummers usually contribute to songs in the form of short fills. Before we get to our list of best drum fills of all time, let me quickly explain this term. There might be some still unfamiliar with the meaning, and I wouldn’t want them to listen without knowing what they are listening to.

So, fills are known as short rhythmic sounds that are played between the phrases of a melody. They are crucial for keeping the listener focused and attentive, not allowing them to lose interest in what is being played. People are bound to confuse them with riffs.

And, although these two terms can sometimes be used interchangeably, as opposed to a riff, fills are often improvised. And more often than not, they turn into real masterpieces. Let’s check out and hear some of the best ones.

More on riffs here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riff

  1. Metallica – For Whom The Bell Tolls

It’s no wonder that the magnificent Lars Ulrich has reached our list. As part of the “Ride The Lightning”, which is the second album of this highly esteemed thrash metal band, the song is brimming with some great drumming skills. You can hear the fills at 1:24, 2:13, 3:26 and 3:42 on the official video.

But, here is a live performance that is sure to give you the chills. Starting from 1:05, you can really dive in and focus on some glorious skills of one of the best drummers. Hey, Lars, I just wanted to add – You are absolutely amazing!


2. Deep Purple – Black Night

The outstanding Ian Paice shows us what it means to really rock!

He shows off his skills multiple times during this song. First, right at the beginning, at 0:07, then again at 0:14, 0:57 and 2:28. And it gets better and better every time. Listen for yourself, I might have missed a beat or two, who knows.

3. Phil Collins – In the Air Tonight

Now, let’s go a slightly different road this time. This song is a bit more slow-paced and kind of more calming than energizing. However, every time I hear the fill at 3:16, it reminds me of the fact that it simply would not be the same without Phil’s excellent drumming technique. It’s like, everything is so smooth and calm, and then, all of a sudden, bam – it’s as if he’s trying to say: “Here’s what makes the song even greater”.


  1. Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love

There’s really nothing much to say, except – WOW, just WOW! First, at 3:02, then 4:35, and then 4:55 again! Would you just listen to that? A whole lotta drumming there, I’d say. Anyway, it’s exactly what you would expect from the legend, John Henry Bonham. It wouldn’t be fair not to mention that these drum fills take a lot of practice and cannot be learned within minutes. Although, there are products that make things a bit easier today, so you might want to check those out.


  1. The Beatles – Hey Jude

How could we ever forget to include Ringo Starr in our list? Well, we couldn’t and we didn’t. This drum virtuoso teaches us what drumming is all about. Apart from having a powerful message, “Hey Jude” gives us the opportunity to enjoy the brilliant talents of the man behind the drums.

The song was released a long, long time ago. So, if you have, by any chance, forgotten to listen to it in a while, now is the perfect time to freshen up your memory. Visit YouTube now and enjoy the marvelous melody, together with these great fills at 0:49.

  1. The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black

Where there are The Beatles, there are sure to be The Rolling Stones as well. I don’t know about you, but these two have always had the same place in my brain, as well as in my heart. And Charlie Watts is a legend who really knows his way with this powerful instrument.

Understanding the importance, as well as the complexity, of the drums might come easier after hearing him play. In this particular song, you can hear the superb technique at 1:38. However, this is not their only song that deserves some notice in that regard. So, if you are a fan, you can pay attention the next time you put The Rolling Stones on your playlist.


  1. Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City

Steven Adler is not only cute while playing, but he also possesses some serious abilities. Okay, you got me, I think Steven Adler is cute. But, enough about that. The way he shows off his drumming skills is far more important.

And you can check that out in one of the most popular songs of this band, featured on their debut album. Given the rhythm and the beat, it’s no wonder that “Paradise City” manages to defy the concept of time and be widely listened to even in 2020. The brilliant drum fill at 4:37 would be enough to keep it alive.

  1. Black Sabbath – Rat Salad

Last, but not least, let us listen to the “Rat Salad”. It’s probably difficult to find such a short song, with so much great fills in it. I mean, it’s like the whole song is made of drums. For those of you who don’t know the song, I’d recommend you get familiar with it right now.

Given the above mentioned fact, it is pretty difficult to pinpoint the best moments. But, I have chosen 0:20, 1:16, and 2:10 as my favorites. As Bill Ward never disappoints, there is no doubt that he did a great job in this performance as well.

Remember, drum fills take a lot of practice, so these artists deserve a lot of credit. If you want to pick up a few tricks yourself, you want to learn from the best. And, of course, you might want to get some of those drum fill samples that I mentioned. They will come in handy.




Categories: Playlist, Stories of songs

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