Today I want to briefly look at one of the most distinct and memorable fills in the annals of rock. It’s ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard’s fill in La Grange that introduces Billy Gibbon’s guitar solo. This song is ranked No. 74 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time and is a clinic in the rock shuffle. Beard’s fill fits perfectly within the groove.
From what I’ve read online when breaking this down you need to think of the fill as being constructed of quarter-note triplets: If 4/4 (aka Common Time), you can play two quarter-note triplets. The snare drum accent marks the beginning of each quarter-note triplet. If 4/4 (Common Time), you can play two quarter-note triplets. The snare drum accent marks the beginning of each quarter-note triplet. Now apply a sticking of alternating the right hand and right foot to the triplet.
Now if that sounds complicated it really isn’t. Think of Bonham’s triplets that alternate between the toms, bass and the snare. The fill sounds familiar and yet it is so distinct. I’ve been practicing and it takes time to get it as clean as Beard’s. I’m still working on it. If you watch this video Beard makes it look so easy at around 1:15.