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John Bonham Remembered By Famend Rock Drummers


September twenty fifth will mark 42 years because the passing of one in all rock’s all-time nice and most influential drummers, Led Zeppelin‘s John Bonham. Some time again, I assembled a guide entitled BONZO: 30 Rock Drummers Keep in mind the Legendary John Bonham, and as its title states, options famend/revered drummers discussing what made Bonham such a drum legend. And listed here are some excerpts from the guide, together with Liberty DeVitto (Billy Joel), Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp), and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), amongst many others.

LIBERTY DeVITTO [Billy Joel]: The primary Led Zeppelin album blew me away. Sure – it was undoubtedly an affect. All people remembers his fancy footwork on “Good Instances Unhealthy Instances” – which was wonderful and the primary time I had ever heard something like that. However I have to let you know this right here – I consider that John Bonham was a R&B drummer sitting behind an enormous rock set.

I used to be at all times into R&B and Roger Hawkins [part of the studio backing band known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section] and all these guys that performed on Aretha Franklin data and Motown and all that sort of stuff. And he performs strong like that. Each observe that he performs means one thing – there isn’t a nonsense in what he does. Each time he hits that drum it is for a cause.

RICHARD CHRISTY [Death, Charred Walls of the Damned]: Rising up, I’d watch The Music Stays the Identical on TV, and Bonham enjoying “Moby Dick” – that is among the all-time biggest drum solos, ever. There’s a lot happening in it. I liked that he had the tambourine on his hi-hat. His drum sound was simply excellent in that live performance video. I used to even have a look at his drumheads, and I used to be like, “His snare drumhead is so worn down.” And that is the signal of an excellent drummer.

In case you have a look at The Music Stays the Identical, his snare drumhead, it is worn down proper within the middle. It isn’t worn down everywhere in the snare. And that signifies that he was so exact with hitting that drum within the excellent spot. However watching it, I used to be at all times scared, like, “His snare head goes to interrupt!” However he was such a exact drummer, and had such an amazing sound, that I feel that attributed to it – utilizing his worn-out heads, that had a heat to them, as a result of they had been damaged in. That is why his efficiency on The Music Stays the Identical and particularly enjoying “Moby Dick” was an enormous affect on me.

JERRY GASKILL [King’s X]: I feel what made John Bonham distinctive – like all distinctive folks, which all of us are – is the truth that he performed what he felt. I do not assume he took any classes or something like that – he simply performed what felt proper to him for the music. That is what makes anyone distinctive – to me.

STEVE GORMAN [Black Crowes]: In case you play the intro beat for “When the Levee Breaks,” it by no means feels fairly precisely like Bonzo. No one does the Purdie Shuffle like John Bonham. I can – on paper – play “Idiot within the Rain” precisely like he does, however it’s not going to sound the identical and it is not going to really feel the identical. As a result of I haven’t got the identical really feel. I’ve the identical method perhaps, and I am in search of the identical factor.

ROGER EARL [Foghat]: The primary time I had heard John Bonham play was within the mid-60’s – he was backing an American folks singer, named Tim Hardin. He performed on the Speakeasy – which is a membership in London – and I used to be down there that point. Tim Hardin was enjoying an acoustic guitar…and all you would hear had been drums! [Laughs] Any individual instructed me the drummer’s identify, and I remembered it – as a result of he performed nice. He dominated. I do not even keep in mind if there was a bass participant. It was fascinating – he was undoubtedly a chunk of labor.

However the first time I performed with Zeppelin, I used to be in Savoy Brown. It could have been ’69. We did a lot of dates with them – Savoy Brown, Jethro Tull, and Led Zeppelin. And one of many issues I distinctly keep in mind, it was a few instances – I feel it was in Chicago [which would have been on either July 18thor 19th at the Kinetic Underground] and one other date in Philly [July 12th at the Spectrum] – the place the drummers all jammed collectively. And that might have been Bonzo, myself, and Clive Bunker from Jethro Tull. That was actually one thing, as a result of all of us had our other ways of enjoying. Clive Bunker is an unbelievable drummer, as effectively.

Bonzo was…no person performed like he did. No one performed with that sort of energy. And his footwork was unbelievable. I do not assume anyone actually realized that he truly performed triplets on the bass drum pedal. Mainly what he did was no matter he may do together with his palms, he was doing together with his foot. I by no means heard him play two bass drums – however apparently he did for some time. He was fairly particular – you would hear him above all the pieces. I am unsure if Kim Simmonds [of Savoy Brown] was enjoying guitar or whether or not Jimmy was enjoying guitar with the three drummers on stage. We had one guitar participant, and there might need been anyone who was enjoying violin on a few the jams. Nevertheless it was principally a drumfest.

LEE KERSLAKE [Uriah Heep, Ozzy Osbourne]: I sat and watched him play – he was nice. And I mentioned to him, “You are an amazing drummer.” He mentioned, “Thanks very a lot. I such as you, I used to be watching you – we’re very comparable, aren’t we?” We parted firm – I did not see him once more for ages. After which the following factor, I am doing a gig with Cliff Bennett, and he was with the New Yardbirds. I met him then and we had an excellent previous chat. I would go to a rehearsal room in an previous cinema owned by Greg Lake and Carl Palmer. I walked in there and began enjoying the equipment, and he mentioned, “Get off me bloody equipment!” It was his!

CHAD CHANNING [Nirvana]: On one of many data, that they had his drums arrange down the hallway. That they had two or three mics, so the drums had this pure reverb coming off of it, and he needed to play cymbals very gentle, in any other case, they’d wash over all the pieces and it will be an excessive amount of within the mics. So, he performed the equipment, however he would hit the cymbals frivolously. It’s a problem to try this. However after listening to that story about that, I can hear that within the recording – how huge the drums sound.

One factor that’s fascinating about John Bonham is you can go on YouTube, and there are movies on learn how to tune drums like Bonham did – proper all the way down to the snare drum and the kick drum. The whole lot. He was the one drummer that I do know of that individuals have tried to repeat his sound. I’ve executed that earlier than – simply out of curiosity. I used to be like, “How does he get the drum to sound so huge like that?”

I discovered a video of one in all his drum techs explaining the sound, so I began tuning all my drums to the way in which he did. It is a cool factor I suppose as a drummer that individuals would attempt to emulate your sound – I am unable to consider every other drummer off-hand that truly had that.

DAVID LOVERING [Pixies]: If I may consider all of the folks that had been an affect, he was most likely within the top-3. My favourite three drummers can be John Bonham, Neil Peart, after which any drummer that drummed for Steely Dan. That is it. Particularly rising up, you might be impressionable with music on the time, and he was main. His enjoying, the beats, and all the pieces like that simply took me. He was undoubtedly a significant affect on me. He did quite a lot of stuff like paradiddles, and studying the paradiddle rudiment, he may apply that to drums – and that was one factor that he used lots, that I feel I gathered lots from him, which I nonetheless use to this present day. Which I feel is a really invaluable instrument for any drummer – studying the paradiddle and using it on the drum set.

KENNY ARONOFF [John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, Smashing Pumpkins]: “Kashmir” – as a result of it is not technical however it’s very troublesome to play. And it actually confirmed that he was a musical drummer. The factor that makes it difficult to select a number of the nice songs that John performed on…the repertoire that Zeppelin had was ridiculous. I imply, it was excellent. That they had so many nice songs. You present me a Led Zeppelin music and I will present you nice drumming – each single one in all them. “The Immigrant Music,” “Good Instances Unhealthy Instances” is among the most technical drum elements that showcases triplets – these triplets that he is doing with this proper foot. However he may do it over and over and he made it sound so even. And that was the first report that got here out – that is ridiculous. It is like a masterpiece, that drumming. You’d get fired should you performed that many notes on a report immediately! It is wonderful how he made it work – it is so musical.

Discover ways to play “The Immigrant Music,” “Good Instances Unhealthy Instances,” “Rock and Roll” the way in which John did it, “Complete Lotta Love,” “When the Levee Breaks,” “Kashmir,” “Black Canine,” “The Crunge” – these songs are like going to highschool and studying learn how to play the drums. “Communication Breakdown,” “The Rover” with the precise tempo and the precise really feel, “Custard Pie,” “The Wanton Music,” “You Shook Me.” Each single music I discussed is totally different. “Stairway to Heaven” – these fills when he got here in. “The Ocean,” “Dancing Days.” Each single a kind of songs is a lesson. It could possibly be a chapter – you examine the music for per week and be taught to play it precisely. It is a data of elements, really feel, time. It is unbelievable.

MIKE PORTNOY [Dream Theater, Sons of Apollo, Winery Dogs]: He was one of many all-time greats. He was simply rock strong, and one in all a form. His swing and his really feel is unparalleled. No one performed like John Bonham, and nonetheless to this present day, no person actually can play like John Bonham – as a lot as all people tries. He’ll without end be one of many biggest rock drummers within the historical past of music. And he deserves it.


Greg Prato is a longtime AllMusic contributor and writer of a number of books, together with BONZO: 30 Rock Drummers Keep in mind the Legendary John Bonham.



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