Five For Friday: Let There Be Drums!

One of the good things about instrumentals is that they give members of the band who don’t normally get featured a chance to show off their stuff. One of those is the drummer. The drummer is the main timekeeper of the band, keeping everyone else on the beat, but drummers don’t as a rule get to solo, unless they’re Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa. There are lots of fine examples of drummers showing their stuff; here are five examples.

The playlist is here, in case one of these won’t play while embedded.

  1. Sandy Nelson, "Let There Be Drums": Sandy and guitarist Richard Polodor wrote this one, and it’s an early example of surf music. Reached #7 on the Hot 100 in late 1961, then reached #1 in Australia for a week in January 1963 and #3 in the UK, where it ended up being the 50th most-popular song in 1962.

  2. Cozy Cole, "Topsy, Part 2": Before you ask, yes, there’s a "Topsy, Part 1", which is very similar but not as much drumming. Part 1 only reached #27, while Part 2 reached #3 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart.

  3. Santana, "Soul Sacrifice": Live at Tanglewood in 1970, about a year after they played it at Woodstock. Santana is all about percussion, with Mike Carabello on congas, José "Chepito" Areas on congas and timbales, and Mike Shrieve on drums. No idea who the guy dancing around shaking the maracas is (probably a roadie). This was the closing number on Santana’s eponymous debut album from 1969.

  4. Preston Epps, "Bongo Rock": Preston learned to play a lot of percussion instruments, including the bongos, when he was stationed in Okinawa during the Korean War. He was discovered by Arthur Laboe, an LA disk jockey, who saw him playing in clubs, and signed him to Original Sound Records. "Bongo Rock" reached #14 on the Hot 100 in 1959.

  5. The Surfaris, "Wipe Out": The B side of their hit "Surfer Joe," it reached #11 on the Hot 100 in 1963, largely because of Ron Wilson’s drumming throughout.

And that’s Five For Friday for June 25, 2021.

9 thoughts on “Five For Friday: Let There Be Drums!

  1. There is something so primal about the drums and I love it! These songs are excellent and Wipeout is one I have often danced to quite vigourously. One day I have to find out if I am related to gene Krupa. My dad said we are…distant cousins.


  2. John,

    Nice Friday Five music set! “Wipe Out” is my favorite. I was only 2-years old when it came out but that just goes to show how this classic has impacted the music industry through the years. I say most everyone is recognizes the instrumental arrangement right off the bat. Does Friday Five follow a theme or do you just throw together whatever five songs you want? Have a good weekend and I’ll see on the 4M dance floor, my friend!


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