"Honky Tonk Women", by The Rolling Stones, was a 1969 hit song released as a single on July 4, 1969 in the UK and a week later in the USA. The song topped the music charts in both nations. The band actually recorded two versions of the song; I'll be explaining and transcribing drum/percussion parts from the popular 45 single version.

Upon listening to the original recording, notice that the song begins with an eight-bar introduction — the cowbell and drums start, NOT the guitar riff (for all of your crazed guitarist friends). The first measure of the intro is cowbell, which was performed by producer Jimmy Miller, followed by a short drum fill in the second, played by Charlie Watts. The cowbell and drums groove for an additional two measures before the guitars enter.

Before I go further, let me discuss the cowbell sound, technique employed and written notation.