The humble cowbell has been worn for millennia by our cloven hoofed companions as they roam freely on hillsides. It was originally designed to help farmers or shepherds locate their animals should they wander too far astray.
They are still used for this purpose, but, over the last 70 years, this simple device has evolved into a percussion instrument in its own right and has found itself in many of the classic songs that we know and love.
Its use in Buddy Holly's “Hearbeat” is one of the earliest examples of its use in pop music that I've been able to find. If you can find an earlier example, please shout out in the comments below.
In 2000, the SNL "More Cowbell" sketch gave the instrument something akin to a cult status, and to this day, it enjoys being a healthy part of the current music scene.
In celebration of the instrument, I've gradually been compiling a cowbell playlist, containing an eclectic array of artists and genres, but all with the cowbell in common.