10 Drum Grooves You Should Know
The heartbeat of any song starts with the drums. Beyond playing the basic drum beat of keeping time for a band is how the drummer creates feel. Drum grooves can turn an average song into an exciting piece of music. They get you air drumming, smashing out the groove on a steering wheel or on the table with knife and fork.
Commonly, I hear drummers play these drum grooves during a soundcheck, like a guitarist playing classic riffs when testing equipment. These songs have nothing to do with flashy fills or bash and crash hysteria. It is purely taking the standard drum pattern and making it come alive. There are 1000s of amazing drum grooves to learn, start with these and gain a greater understanding of how a drummer contributes to the feel of a song.
Rosanna – Toto
I think every drummer I have played with at some stage has broken out the Rosanna drum groove. Toto drummer Steve Pocaro was a groove master. The song opens with the signature drum groove setting up the massive hit single. This is one you should have in your repertoire of drum grooves.
In this video Pocaro explains how he came up with the unique feel.
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon
Like Rosanna, this drum pattern was such a hook that it opens the song. Drummer Steve Gadd has long been a go to session and live drummer for the biggest names in rock music. This Paul Simon hit from the 70s used his talents to make a classic.
Stick control is essential to pull this groove off correctly.
Epic – Faith No More
Faith No More exploded into the mainstream with this massive hit at the end of the 80s. Drummer Mike Bordin is very well respected within the rock and metal community and he propels the verse of this song with a killer melodic groove.
Here the isolated drums with bass and vocals. Catch those grooves.
Rain – Dragon
When I asked drummers what songs they enjoy the feel of at covers gigs this one has been a common response. No surprise like previously mentioned songs in this article, its the rhythm section that gets the song underway.
Drummer Kerry Jacobson lays down a smacking rock pattern in this comeback single for the band from 1983.
Boys Are Back in Town – Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy should be regarded as one of the greatest hard rock acts of all time. Unfortunately they have gone slightly off the radar possibly due to the passing of bandleader Phil Lynott in 1986. This song almost didn’t make it onto the Jailbreak album, luckily it stayed and became their most well known hit single.
Dig that shuffle pattern played by drummer Brian Downey.
Back in Black – AC/DC
AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd might be famous for having one drum groove to do in the band but when its as good as this why stop. Being behind the beat and having those hi hats grooving is key to playing any AC/DC.
Cissy Strut – The Meters
No drum grooves list would be complete without featuring New Orleans soul funk band The Meters. This band was the studio musicians for many New Orleans legends such as Dr. John, Allan Toussaint and also backed Robert Palmer and jammed with Paul McCartney.
Drummer Ziggaboo Modeliste plays this loose but tight feel to perfection.
Maneater – Nelly Furtardo
Pop music in the last 10 years has thrown up a lot of amazing drum grooves or beats provided by producers for pop stars. This proves an average tune can be saved by a killer drum beat. Nelly has a catalogue full of excellent songs with great drum grooves.
Check out how cool this drum beat is played live on the David Letterman show in 2010.
Boys – The Beatles
Ringo Starr’s feature vocal moment on the Beatles debut provides also his greatest use of the typical early Beatles drum grooves. This groove became famous being dubbed the Mersey Beat, associated with bands from the Liverpool area The Beatles originate from.
Ringo might be the most maligned drummer in rock history for lack of technical prowess but no drummer ever served the song better than him.
Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
When your band is named after the rhythm section members, you better produce some groove. Fleetwood Mac had progressed from being a top blues band in the late 60s to pop megastars by the mid 70s.
This song is from the zillion selling album Rumours and features a great melodic drum groove by Mick Fleetwood.