Poor cowbell. The once-celebrated percussive instrument that has since been dragged through the comedic mud (albeit hilariously) by Will Ferrell, Christopher Walken and company on Saturday Night Live. But back in the day, some hard rock and heavy metal bands actually held the ole ‘bell in high regard (well, sorta). Whether used as the foundation for the song, in one particular section, or just for the intro, many legendary bands have utilized the percussion instrument – from Mountain to Led Zeppelin to Judas Priest to of course – Blue Öyster Cult.
And though there are some great modern rock bands like Queens of the Stone Age who’ve incorporated some cowbell-esque sounds (the jam block used on “Little Sister” for example) nothing quite compares to that sweet, sweet sound of clanking bovine metal (did we just say that?) ringing through some premiere 1970’s riff-rock. So to celebrate this week’s That Metal Show guest, Mountain’s very own Leslie West, along with the legions of other bands who respect the ‘bell, here’s 13 hard rock songs that make us crazy for the cowbell. DINK! DINK! DINK!
Mountain’s Leslie West talks about the importance of the cowbell in “Mississippi Queen.”
Mountain “Mississippi Queen”
Perhaps the most famous cowbell song on this list (along with “Don’t Fear The Reaper”), it was recorded for the band’s 1970 debut album, Climbing!, and is the band’s most successful single. Drummer Corky Laing, growing tired of the numerous takes to record the song, began counting the tune off with a cowbell – producer/bassist Felix Pappalardi liked it so much that he left it in the final mix.