On the Fleetwood Mac song “Warm Ways,” Mick Fleetwood heard the title of the tune and must have decided that all the fills would also be warm, because they sure feel like a warm feather bed on this track. Here are some examples of the type of fills Mick plays in this song. He keeps a relaxed feel playing soft and fluffy fills between lowly tuned toms.

This month we take a look at a few legendary drummers: Al Jackson Jr., Mick Fleetwood, and the drummers of Motown. Al had the incredibility to see the big picture when developing a drum part for a hit record—he knew when to save the big fill and when to keep it simple and effective. Mick always plays for the song and creates fills that are integral to the tunes. The Motown drummers always added a signature fill to the tunes they played on but were unfortunately not properly credited, thus leaving us to wonder if it was Benny Benjamin, Richard “Pistol” Allen, Uriel Jones, or perhaps Larrie Londin on those grooving tracks.

‘Warm Ways,’ Fleetwood Mac (Mick Fleetwood, drums)

During the verses Mick plays a small fill at the end of just about every measure (Ex. 1–2).

Warm Ways drum fills

Ex. 1

Warm Ways drum fills

Ex. 2

Leading into or out of the chorus Mike tends to expand his ideas over one full bar, staying on the lush tom toms (Ex. 3).

Warm Ways drum fills

Ex. 3

As you can see from these fills there are no chops or licks, no pre-planned series of complicated hand/foot patterns and stickings. What we see here is that these fills are simply rhythms. If you are looking to change up your fill game, start by looking at the rhythms you are playing as a base for your fills.

Stewart Jean is Program Chair for Drums at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA.