How to Play La Grange on Drums

Do you want to learn how to play the classic La Grange by ZZ on drums? Read ahead to find out more!

When talking about classic songs, La Grange by ZZ Top that is played by the iconic Frank Beard is bound to pop into mind. After the release of their 2020 documentary “ZZ Top: The Little Ol’ Band from Texas,” La Grange has been making an appearance on the Billboard charts yet again.

With its amazing beat, it sounds fantastic when played on the drums. It might be a bit tricky at first, as is with most new beats. But learning this classic all-time favorite piece is worth it. For this beat, you are going to be working on your left hand. Stay tuned and get your drumsticks ready as we teach you how to play La Grange on drums.

You can also read : La Grange Drum Tutorial – ZZ Top

 

How to Play La Grange on Drums
Photo by : Youtube

 

What La Grange Means and Its History – How to Play La Grange on Drums

The song La Grange is from the album Tres Hombres, which was released as a single in July of 1973. Being one of their most famous songs, what does the title of the song La Grange even mean? The song talks about a brothel of La Grange, Texas.

The brothel called Edna’s Fashionable Ranch Boarding House was later known as Chicken Ranch. The name Chicken Ranch comes from Edna, the owner, raising chicks on the property to disguise her ongoing illicit business as a poultry farm. That same year in August, a month after Tres Hombres was released, Chicken Ranch was shut down. If you are wondering whether the release of the song led to the ranch’s demise, then no you are wrong.

An investigative report on the establishment done by a TV station in Houston led to a tip to the attorney general’s office who ordered it to close down. Aside from featuring in this popular classic, the fame of La Grange is extended to a broadway play and film called The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. 

Achievement and Controversy of La Grange – How to Play La Grange on Drums

La Grange is influenced by rhythms used by John Lee Hooker and Slim Harpo. In the songs “Boogie Chillin” and “Shake Your Hips” by the respective artists a traditional boogie blues rhythm is used, which later influenced the rhythm of La Grange. Yet another John Lee Hooker song that left its mark on La Grange is “Boom Boom.”

The line “a how how how how” is directly quoted from Boom Boom. The copyright holder of “Boogie Chillin” later filed a lawsuit against ZZ Top. However, the lawsuit failed as the court ruled that the rhythm was in the public domain. Despite all that Hooker did not hold any bad feelings towards the band. 

La Grange has topped many billboard charts including US Billboard Hot 100, US Record World, US Cash Box, IFOP, Australia’s Go-Set National Top 40, and Australia’s Kent Music Report. It has also been used in many movies such as Striptease, Shanghai Noon, Man of the House, Armageddon, The Dukes of Hazzard, and Dogtown and Z-boys.

The song is fairly popular in the wrestling world as well, as David and Kerry Von Erich, and Barry Windham used La Grange as their theme song in World Class Championship Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and World Championship Wrestling respectively.  

Detailed Guide to Playing La Grange – How to Play La Grange on Drums

Now that we know all about La Grange and its origin, let us move on to how to play the song on drums. We have given detailed instructions with the hopes that learning how to play becomes easier.

The Opening Fill 

To begin playing La Grange you will need to brush up on your rudiments. You need to start playing on the rim of the snare drum, by using a drag and a flam rudiment. You can play on the rim of the hi-Tom or the floor Tom if you wish to.

A drag in drumming is two ghost notes that set up a shot or a single and a flam rudiment is when two notes are played close together to make it sound like one thick note. As for the sticking pattern, Frank Beard used skeleton rhythm and we will be sticking to that.

While your left hand will be busy playing the quarter note throughout the whole opening fill which is the flam rudiment, your right hand will be used to playing a drag. You will need to speed play this part for a while to get the distinct opening of the song. 

The Remain of La Grange 

As is common with almost every beat played on drums, you will start with the snare drum. You will begin with a whole bar of triplets for the first half by playing flam rudiments starting with the snare drum, moving to hi Tom and the floor tom. This gets repeated, but this time the flam gets divided into two notes where it is sort of between a flam and a single stroke.

By the time you move on to the floor tom, the note is fully separated. You will be taking the last note of the flam and doubling it before moving on to the end of the bar. You have got two bass drums, where you will be playing the last bass drum of the triplet of beat four and move on to the next bass drum of beat one of chorus 2 and end on the crash cymbal. 

Conclusion

Playing La Grange on drums has a different and unique feel of its own. Once you know more about the history behind the title, and its place in ZZ Tops members’ hearts, the desire to learn how to play it increases. Add to its popularity for decades, we bet you would want to master the beat.

In our tutorial, we have tried to make it sound like Frank Beard’s version. However, you can always alter the rhythm to your liking and style. All you need to do is be consistent and soon you will perfectly be playing La Grange on drums.

You can also read : Double Bass Pedal vs. Two Bass Drums

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