Top 10 Favorite Songs Using the Linn Drum

The Linn Drum was actually three drum machines designed and originally built by Roger Linn. The first, was called the Linn LM-1, from 1980. Prince used this one all over the 1999 and Purple Rain albums. Next was the LinnDrum (or as some people called: The LM-2,) from 1982. This was used during Prince’s Purple Rain tour. You can clearly see it in a lot of pictures off to the side of the drummer. And the Linn 9000 came out in 1984. It was able to sample your own sounds. It failed miserably.

The first two pretty much revolutionized the music industry. It was the first machine to sound like an acoustic drum kit. Never before could a singer complete an album as if it was a band, by him or her self. It was crudely sampled @ 28-35kHz and had no MIDI interface. There were kits built later on that you could retrofit MIDI to a LinnDrum. Prior to the Linn machines there was the Roland 808 which was, and still is, huge. But it sounded nothing like acoustic drums. It never intended to. The Linn Drums intended to. The smart drummers out there bought one and learned how to program one. It’s amazing how many Top 10 songs used one. It’s most notable for it’s fast shaker, it’s open & round bass drum and it’s deep, resonant and ever-so-slightly-behind-the-beat snare drum. In recent interviews Roger Linn said he wished he cut out a little bit of the lag in the snare sound. But I think that’s what made the machine so human. No machine has ever come so close to having a “feel.”

  1. Don’t Lose My Number (Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required)
  2. Part-Time Lover (Stevie Wonder’s In Square Circle)
  3. Shock The Monkey (Peter Gabriel’s Security)
  4. Rock Me Amadeus (Falco’s Falco 3)
  5. Human (The Human League’s Crash)
  6. The Safety Dance (Men Without Hats’ Rhythm of Youth)
  7. Drive (The Cars’ Heartbeat City)
  8. Little Red Corvette (Prince’s 1999)
  9. Bang The Drum All Day (Todd Rundgren’s The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect)
  10. Last Christmas (Wham!’s All-Star Christmas)

A lot of these songs used the Linn LM-1 or the LinnDrum sequenced with other drum machines or acoustic drums overdubbed, FYI. What’s amazing it that each one of these songs pretty much used the same samples. If you listen to these songs, one can hear how drastically a engineer can change a sound, by using compression or reverb or whatever, in the mixing process.

7 Responses to “Top 10 Favorite Songs Using the Linn Drum”

  • I like all these songs, too. I never knew I liked the Linn Drum sound!

  • Excellent choice for #1. I

  • Oh, and little known fact – the song “Drive” consistently gives me goosepimples starting at 2 minutes and 12 seconds and has since as long as I can remember.

  • Hi

    I’m using – with permission of course – your top ten LinnDrum list and I’d like to publish your correct name. What is it?


  • Lots of errors in the blog post here.

    Prince used the LM-1 since about the Controvercy album with the first song he ever used it on – Private Joy.

    He then went crazy with it as his writing partner if you will for the albums 1999 through The Black Album. Then I believe he modified the LM-1 to use other sounds, slightly updated for albums such as Lovesexy, Batman and Graffiti Bridge. During all these albums though, in addition to the LM-1 Prince used the LM-2 on several songs. Love Bizzare, Dopamine Rush, etc. Then in recent years he’s pulled out the Linn LM-1 for a few songs but not quite recapturing the magic of his earlier work. I suspect Prince has a library of sampled Linn beats he’s made and sounds and then works with them in another sampler and or ProTools. MPLSound is an album of recent that you can tell it wasnt the machine but just loops or samples triggered, not 100% but I can tell, a long time PRince studier!

    Your list – some of those songs like Cars are not the LM-2 but may actually be Simmons drums or maybe Yamaha drum machines. Listen closely.

  • 777-9311 by The Time (Prince) has one of the most impressive drum patterns ever made. LM1 all the way.

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