lessons

The Trickiest Drum Intros On Record

“No More Tears” by Ozzy Osbourne
“No More Tears” has a cool little bass intro provided by Mike Inez, who later played with Alice In Chains and Black Label Society. The trick is guaranteed by changing the time signature in the measure where the late Randy Castillo enters on drums. I had to work through this one a couple of times to work out the 9/8 time-signature trick. This may be cheating, but it worked. This one’s guaranteed to make any and all headbanging stop, if for only a moment.

“Pride & Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan
These tunes are a bit like magic tricks. They’re easy to play right once you know the trick. On this one, the guitar starts on count 2 and not count 1. Counting it out can help you get it down the very first time. I could have just as easily chosen to write out SRV’s “Couldn’t Stand The Weather,” another of his tunes with a tricky intro that uses an odd time signature to achieve its dastardly ends.

“Sold Me Down The River” by The Alarm
“Sold Me Down The River” was The Alarm’s biggest hit in America and is one of those evil songs that were deliberately designed to throw you off balance. This time it’s the work of the clever drummer Nigel Twist. By the time the guitars enter in the fifth measure, it’s anyone’s guess where 1 is. This tricky band is still around today but with some new members. They successfully pulled off a huge hoax on the record industry in 2004 with their song “45 RPM,” which they falsely attributed to a youthful band called the Poppy Fields. The song charted well and, like Garth Brooks’ similar Chris Gaines hoax, tells us lots about the music industry.

“Panama” by Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen is notorious for making drummers’ lives hell with his wacky intros. From a guitarist’s perspective, I’m told his parts make sense. But to a drummer, well — you can almost see the darkened light bulb hovering above our collective heads. I’d struggled with Van Halen’s “Unchained” several months earlier, rarely coming out in the same place twice, before the bulb flickered and then suddenly went on. Of course, Alex Van Halen offers us an equally odd drum part to master. This one’s pretty much impossible not to butcher if you don’t count. Frankly, it’s pretty easy to butcher even if you do count. The trick is knowing that the guitar part enters on the & of 1 and then not getting lost.

“Honky Tonk Woman” by The Rolling Stones
This one is tricky because it can sound like the cowbell begins on the & of 4 rather than on count 1. The way in which that cowbell is either muted or let to ring enhances the illusion. Charlie Watts saves the day with his offbeat but simple entrance.

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  • I’m with you 100 percent. Mitch was my biggest influence.

  • You guys should check out Matt Cameron’s intro on God Don’t Make Lonely Girls by The Wallflowers.  Definitely made me think harder than usual!

  • *Matt Chamberlain, not Matt Cameron

  • “Take It Easy” by The Eagles actually comes in on the “&” of 4.  Check out this link for an out loud count: http://roger-davis.home.comcast.net/~roger-davis/MP3’s/TIE.mp3

  • Yeah, I can hear it on the Eagles.

  • How about “I Want You To Want Me” by Cheap Trick?  There is something different in the beginning of that song that always seems to trip me up thinking I’m dropping a beat. Would love to see it written out.