John Bonham Remembered By Renowned Rock Drummers

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September twenty fifth will mark 42 years because the passing of considered one of 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 Remember 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 first Led Zeppelin album blew me away. Yes – it was positively an affect. Everybody remembers his fancy footwork on “Good Times Bad Times” – which was wonderful and the primary time I had ever heard something like that. But I have to inform you 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 information and Motown and all that type of stuff. And he performs stable like that. Every observe that he performs means one thing – there is no such thing as a nonsense in what he does. Every time he hits that drum it is for a motive.

RICHARD CHRISTY [Death, Charred Walls of the Damned]: Growing up, I’d watch The Song Remains the Same on TV, and Bonham taking part in “Moby Dick” – that is without doubt one of the all-time best drum solos, ever. There’s a lot occurring in it. I cherished that he had the tambourine on his hi-hat. His drum sound was simply good 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 a very good drummer.

If you have a look at The Song Remains the Same, his snare drumhead, it is worn down proper within the middle. It’s not worn down everywhere in the snare. And that implies that he was so exact with hitting that drum within the good spot. But watching it, I used to be at all times scared, like, “His snare head goes to interrupt!” But he was such a exact drummer, and had such an ideal sound, that I feel that attributed to it – utilizing his worn-out heads, that had a heat to them, as a result of they have been damaged in. That’s why his efficiency on The Song Remains the Same and particularly taking part in “Moby Dick” was an enormous affect on me.

JERRY GASKILL [King’s X]: I feel what made John Bonham distinctive – like every 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 track. That’s what makes anyone distinctive – to me.

STEVE GORMAN [Black Crowes]: If you play the intro beat for “When the Levee Breaks,” it by no means feels fairly precisely like Bonzo. Nobody does the Purdie Shuffle like John Bonham. I can – on paper – play “Fool within the Rain” precisely like he does, but it surely’s not going to sound the identical and it is not going to really feel the identical. Because I haven’t got the identical really feel. I’ve the identical method possibly, and I’m on the lookout for the identical factor.

ROGER EARL [Foghat]: The first time I had heard John Bonham play was within the mid-60’s – he was backing an American people 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 taking part in an acoustic guitar…and all you could possibly hear have been drums! [Laughs] Somebody informed me the drummer’s title, and I remembered it – as a result of he performed nice. He dominated. I do not even bear in mind if there was a bass participant. It was fascinating – he was positively a bit of labor.

But the primary time I performed with Zeppelin, I used to be in Savoy Brown. It would have been ’69. We did quite a few dates with them – Savoy Brown, Jethro Tull, and Led Zeppelin. And one of many issues I distinctly bear in mind, it was a few occasions – 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 alternative ways of taking part in. Clive Bunker is an unimaginable drummer, as properly.

Bonzo was…no person performed like he did. Nobody performed with that type of energy. And his footwork was unimaginable. I do not assume anyone actually realized that he really performed triplets on the bass drum pedal. Basically what he did was no matter he may do together with his fingers, 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 could possibly hear him above the whole lot. I’m undecided if Kim Simmonds [of Savoy Brown] was taking part in guitar or whether or not Jimmy was taking part in guitar with the three drummers on stage. We had one guitar participant, and there may need been any individual who was taking part in violin on a few the jams. But it was principally a drumfest.

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

CHAD CHANNING [Nirvana]: On one of many information, that they had his drums arrange down the hallway. They had two or three mics, so the drums had this pure reverb coming off of it, and he needed to play cymbals very mild, in any other case, they’d wash over the whole lot and it might be an excessive amount of within the mics. So, he performed the equipment, however he would hit the cymbals frivolously. It is a problem to do this. But 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 that you could go on YouTube, and there are movies on easy methods to tune drums like Bonham did – proper right down to the snare drum and the kick drum. Everything. He was the one drummer that I do know of that folks have tried to repeat his sound. I’ve carried out 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 considered one of his drum techs explaining the sound, so I began tuning all my drums to the best way he did. It’s a cool factor I suppose as a drummer that folks would attempt to emulate your sound – I am unable to consider another drummer off-hand that truly had that.

DAVID LOVERING [Pixies]: If I may consider all of the those that have been an affect, he was in all probability within the top-3. My favourite three drummers can be John Bonham, Neil Peart, after which any drummer that drummed for Steely Dan. That’s it. Especially rising up, you’re impressionable with music on the time, and he was main. His taking part in, the beats, and the whole lot like that simply took me. He was positively a serious affect on me. He did a variety of stuff like paradiddles, and studying the paradiddle rudiment, he may apply that to drums – and that was one factor that he used loads, that I feel I gathered loads from him, which I nonetheless use to this present day. Which I feel is a really invaluable software 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 but it surely’s very troublesome to play. And it actually confirmed that he was a musical drummer. The factor that makes it difficult to select a few of the nice songs that John performed on…the repertoire that Zeppelin had was ridiculous. I imply, it was excellent. They had so many nice songs. You present me a Led Zeppelin track and I’ll present you nice drumming – each single considered one of them. “The Immigrant Song,” “Good Times Bad Times” is without doubt one of the most technical drum elements that showcases triplets – these triplets that he is doing with this proper foot. But he may do it over and over and he made it sound so even. And that was the first file that got here out – that is ridiculous. It’s like a masterpiece, that drumming. You’d get fired in the event you performed that many notes on a file as we speak! It’s wonderful how he made it work – it is so musical.

Learn easy methods to play “The Immigrant Song,” “Good Times Bad Times,” “Rock and Roll” the best way John did it, “Whole Lotta Love,” “When the Levee Breaks,” “Kashmir,” “Black Dog,” “The Crunge” – these songs are like going to high school and studying easy methods to play the drums. “Communication Breakdown,” “The Rover” with the fitting tempo and the fitting really feel, “Custard Pie,” “The Wanton Song,” “You Shook Me.” Every single track I discussed is totally different. “Stairway to Heaven” – these fills when he got here in. “The Ocean,” “Dancing Days.” Every single a type of songs is a lesson. It may very well be a chapter – you examine the track for every week and be taught to play it precisely. It’s a information of elements, really feel, time. It’s unimaginable.

MIKE PORTNOY [Dream Theater, Sons of Apollo, Winery Dogs]: He was one of many all-time greats. He was simply rock stable, and considered one of a form. His swing and his really feel is unparalleled. Nobody 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 will perpetually be one of many best 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 Remember the Legendary John Bonham.



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