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 Dangerous Instances” – which was wonderful and the primary time I had ever heard something like that. However I need 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 data and Motown and all that sort of stuff. And he performs strong like that. Each word that he performs means one thing – there isn’t any nonsense in what he does. Each time he hits that drum it is for a motive.
RICHARD CHRISTY [Death, Charred Walls of the Damned]: Rising up, I might watch The Tune Stays the Identical on TV, and Bonham taking part in “Moby Dick” – that is likely one of the all-time biggest drum solos, ever. There’s a lot occurring in it. I liked that he had the tambourine on his hi-hat. His drum sound was simply good in that live performance video. I used to even take 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.
For those who take a look at The Tune Stays the Identical, his snare drumhead, it is worn down proper within the heart. It isn’t worn down all around the snare. And that signifies that he was so exact with hitting that drum within the good 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 a fantastic sound, that I believe 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 is why his efficiency on The Tune Stays the Identical and particularly taking part in “Moby Dick” was an enormous affect on me.
JERRY GASKILL [King’s X]: I believe 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 tune. That is what makes anyone distinctive – to me.
STEVE GORMAN [Black Crowes]: For those who 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, but it surely’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 on the lookout for 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 taking part in an acoustic guitar…and all you might hear have been drums! [Laughs] Anyone advised me the drummer’s title, 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 attention-grabbing – he was undoubtedly a bit of labor.
However the first time I performed with Zeppelin, I used to be in Savoy Brown. It could have been ’69. We did quite 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 believe 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 will 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 taking part in. Clive Bunker is an unbelievable drummer, as properly.
Bonzo was…no one 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 really performed triplets on the bass drum pedal. Principally what he did was no matter he might 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 might hear him above every little thing. I am unsure 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 might need been anyone who was taking part in violin on a few the jams. However it was mainly a drumfest.
LEE KERSLAKE [Uriah Heep, Ozzy Osbourne]: I sat and watched him play – he was nice. And I stated to him, “You are a fantastic 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. After which the subsequent 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 outdated chat. I might go to a rehearsal room in an outdated 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 data, they’d 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 mild, in any other case, they might wash over every little thing and it will be an excessive amount of within the mics. So, he performed the equipment, however he would hit the cymbals evenly. It’s a problem to do this. However after listening to that story about that, I can hear that within the recording – how large the drums sound.
One factor that’s attention-grabbing about John Bonham is that you could go on YouTube, and there are movies on tune drums like Bonham did – proper right down to the snare drum and the kick drum. Every little thing. He was the one drummer that I do know of that individuals have tried to repeat his sound. I’ve completed that earlier than – simply out of curiosity. I used to be like, “How does he get the drum to sound so large 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 is a cool factor I suppose as a drummer that individuals would attempt to emulate your sound – I can not consider some other drummer off-hand that really had that.
DAVID LOVERING [Pixies]: If I might consider all of the folks 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 is it. Particularly rising up, you might be impressionable with music on the time, and he was main. His taking part in, the beats, and every little thing like that simply took me. He was undoubtedly a significant affect on me. He did numerous stuff like paradiddles, and studying the paradiddle rudiment, he might apply that to drums – and that was one factor that he used quite a bit, that I believe I gathered quite a bit from him, which I nonetheless use to today. Which I believe 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 tough to play. And it actually confirmed that he was a musical drummer. The factor that makes it difficult to choose among 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 tune and I am going to present you nice drumming – each single considered one of them. “The Immigrant Tune,” “Good Instances Dangerous Instances” is likely one of the most technical drum elements that showcases triplets – these triplets that he is doing with this proper foot. However he might do it time and again and he made it sound so even. And that was the first file that got here out – that is ridiculous. It is like a masterpiece, that drumming. You’d get fired in case you performed that many notes on a file in the present day! It is wonderful how he made it work – it is so musical.
Discover ways to play “The Immigrant Tune,” “Good Instances Dangerous Instances,” “Rock and Roll” the best way John did it, “Complete Lotta Love,” “When the Levee Breaks,” “Kashmir,” “Black Canine,” “The Crunge” – these songs are like going to highschool and studying play the drums. “Communication Breakdown,” “The Rover” with the fitting tempo and the fitting really feel, “Custard Pie,” “The Wanton Tune,” “You Shook Me.” Each single tune 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 might be a chapter – you examine the tune 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 considered one of a form. His swing and his really feel is unparalleled. No one performed like John Bonham, and nonetheless to today, no one actually can play like John Bonham – as a lot as all people tries. He’ll perpetually 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 creator of a number of books, together with BONZO: 30 Rock Drummers Bear in mind the Legendary John Bonham.