Okay, Julian, you challenged me so I had to do a lot of research. My list is based on the following criteria:

A. Who used them first (got to give props to the Beatles and Stones)

From Beyond the Fold:

On a wider scale, the cowbell found much favor with the world’s greatest band, and was used in everything from rockers to novelty tunes… As trendsetters in everything musical, the Beatles made it cool to use what, typically, wasn’t considered a cool instrument. Soon, more bands — from soul groups to dinosaur rockers — jumped on the cowbell wagon.

Without the Fab Four, would we even have cowbells in modern music?

B. How big a hit the song became (that’s why I marked down traditional favorites like Don’t Fear the Reaper and Hair of the Dog)

C. How much the cowbells are heard within the song (three cowbells for Loverboy, you’re not serious, I hope)

D. How imaginative the use of the cowbells (Lowrider War and Funkytown kill it with their cowbell riffs; Run DMC rapping with cowbells? Wow!).

  1. A Hard Day’s Night

Honorable Mention:

Play That Funky Music

I Call Your Name

Hair of the Dog

You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet

Written by

Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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