How To Play 17 Iconic Drum Fills

Jared Falk  /  Quick Tips / Jun 3

What songs do you always find yourself air drumming? What would you consider are some of the most iconic drum fills of all time?

We asked the community for their favorites, and this list is the result!

(Click here to download a PDF with all the fills and time codes)

1. “In The Air Tonight” – Phil Collins – 96 BPM

Drummer: Phil Collins

Even non-drummers know how to air-drum this one bar fill! Based on a simple 16th note feel, it’s notated for five toms but you can adapt it for two or three.

2. “Wipeout” – The Surfaris – 130 BPM

Drummer: David Raven

If you’re over 40, you’d likely recognize this song as soon as the drums start – even if you aren’t a drummer. The rhythmic melody is instantly recognizable. Pay attention to where the accents fall. (Bonus: Click here to watch this song played in an ice rink!)

3. “Rock With You” – Michael Jackson – 114 BPM

Drummer: John “JR” Robinson

4. “Africa” – Toto – 100 BPM

Drummer: Jeff Porcaro

The list wouldn’t be complete without this anthemic, air-drummable fill, which comes in around 1:07-1:17 in the song.

5. “No One Knows” – Queens of the Stone Age – 170 BPM

Drummer: Dave Grohl

It was tough to choose just one fill for this song, so we ran the whole gauntlet between 1:11-1:34. Work that triplet feel. Check out the note-for-note transcription of this song in Drumeo Edge!

6. “Everlong” – Foo Fighters – 158 BPM

Drummer: Taylor Hawkins

This recognizable fill uses the snare as an anchor point.

7. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana – 116 BPM

Drummer: Dave Grohl

This is probably one of the most air-drummed fills of the last 30 years. Remember that every snare note is flammed.

8. “Life Is A Highway” – Tom Cochrane – 103 BPM

Drummer: Mickey Curry

In this short intro fill, the hi-hat starts on the and of 2.

9. “Back In Black” – AC/DC – 92 BPM

Drummer: Phil Rudd

It’s hard to not overplay! Keep it meat and potatoes.

10. “In Bloom” – Nirvana – 79 BPM

Drummer: Dave Grohl

Simple and memorable, once you learn the one bar, you’re basically good to go for the rest of the song.

11. “Whole Lotta Love” – Led Zeppelin – 84 BPM

Drummer: John Bonham

Bonzo had an instantly recognizable sound, and that includes his drum fills. We chose the two bar fill that happens around 3:52. It sounds simple, but when you break it down, the orchestration is a bit more challenging than you think.

12. “Good Times Bad Times” – Led Zeppelin – 95 BPM

Drummer: John Bonham

Don’t forget the cowbell!

13. “Take The Money And Run” – Steve Miller Band – 123 BPM

Drummer: Gary Mallaber

14. “Come Together” – The Beatles – 88 BPM

Drummer: Ringo Starr

Pay attention to the sticking, and deaden the drums if you want to get that ‘authentic’ Ringo sound.

15. “Uprising” – Muse – 128 BPM

Drummer: Dominic Howard

Check out this anthemic flam-based fill at 3:33.

16. “Where Eagles Dare” – Iron Maiden – 226 BPM

Drummer: Nicko McBrain

It’s the fill right at the beginning of the tune.

17. “Creep” – Radiohead – 88 BPM

Drummer: Philip Selway

The fill happens at 2:42. On count 3 of the second bar, there’s a group of 16th note triplets and 8th note triplets.

What do you think? Did we miss anything?

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