Music History

A History of the Drum Solo

Up until the 1920s, the drum solo didn’t exist because the modern drum kit had yet to be born.  But after Ludwig patented the foot pedal in 1909 and economics forced bandleaders to look for guys who could play all the drums–snare, bass, tom-toms, cymbals and whatever else–all at once, we entered a new era in percussion.

A New Domain picks up the story.

There are, of course, just too many great drummers out there to whittle them down into some kind of best drummers list. Likewise, there are too many awesome drum solos to round up that have been played and recorded throughout the decades, so that would be an artificial listing, too. That’s why, in my drum solo video collection below, you’ll see I narrowed my selection to some special, outstanding exemplars, from the first true modern drum solo of 1923 to now. Here is where you’ll experience the glory of virtuosity in drumming.

You’ll also get a truthful narrative of the technical progression of jazz and rock drumming along the way. Turn up the volume and let’s go.

They start with Baby Dodds who rose to prominence in the late 1920s. (As a drummer myself, I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never heard of the guy. That’s awful.)

The New Domain article goes through solos by Louie Bellson, Art Blakey, Buddy Rich, Ginger Baker, Billy Cobham, Bill Bruford, Terry Bozio and, of course, Neil Peart.

If you love drums and drummers as much as I do, you need to go through this whole article carefully.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38410 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “A History of the Drum Solo

  • Hey there Alan! I’m the original author of the piece for A New Domain. Gina Smith did some editing, too. I’m honored by your appreciation of my work. I’m professional writer, amateur (and rusty) guitar player, and lover of all things Neil Peart and RUSH.


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