LIBERTY DeVITTO [Billy Joel]: The primary Led Zeppelin album blew me away. Sure – it was undoubtedly an affect. Everyone remembers his fancy footwork on “Good Occasions Dangerous Occasions” – which was wonderful and the primary time I had ever heard something like that. However I have to inform you this right here – I imagine that John Bonham was a R&B drummer sitting behind a giant 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 form of stuff. And he performs stable 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 purpose.
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 without doubt one of the all-time best drum solos, ever. There’s a lot happening in it. I beloved 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 drummer.
For those who take a look at The Music Stays the Identical, his snare drumhead, it is worn down proper within the middle. It is not worn down everywhere in the snare. And that implies 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 an awesome 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 several distinctive individuals, which all of us are – is the truth that he performed what he felt. I do not suppose 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, 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 strategy 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 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 enjoying an acoustic guitar…and all you would hear had been drums! [Laughs] Anyone informed 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 plenty 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 alternative ways of enjoying. Clive Bunker is an unimaginable drummer, as nicely.
Bonzo was…no person performed like he did. No one performed with that form of energy. And his footwork was unimaginable. I do not suppose anyone actually realized that he really performed triplets on the bass drum pedal. Mainly what he did was no matter he might 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 would hear him above the whole lot. I am undecided 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 any individual who was enjoying violin on a few the jams. However 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 are an awesome drummer.” He stated, “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 subsequent factor, I am doing a gig with Cliff Bennett, and he was with the New Yardbirds. I met him then and we had previous chat. I might go to a rehearsal room in an previous cinema owned by Greg Lake and Carl Palmer. I walked in there and began enjoying the package, and he stated, “Get off me bloody package!” It was his!
CHAD CHANNING [Nirvana]: On one of many information, they’d his drums arrange down the hallway. They’d 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 package, 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 huge the drums sound.
One factor that’s fascinating about John Bonham is that you could go on YouTube, and there are movies on tips on how to tune drums like Bonham did – proper right down to the snare drum and the kick drum. The whole lot. He was the one drummer that I do know of that folks have tried to repeat his sound. I’ve accomplished 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 best way he did. It is a cool factor I suppose as a drummer that folks would attempt to emulate your sound – I can not consider every other drummer off-hand that really had that.
DAVID LOVERING [Pixies]: If I might consider all of the those who had been an affect, he was most likely within the top-3. My favourite three drummers could 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 the whole lot like that simply took me. He was undoubtedly a significant affect on me. He did lots of stuff like paradiddles, and studying the paradiddle rudiment, he might 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 at the present time. Which I feel is a really invaluable device 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 few of the nice songs that John performed on…the repertoire that Zeppelin had was ridiculous. I imply, it was excellent. They’d so many nice songs. You present me a Led Zeppelin tune and I am going to present you nice drumming – each single one in all them. “The Immigrant Music,” “Good Occasions Dangerous Occasions” is without doubt one of the most technical drum components that showcases triplets – these triplets that he is doing with this proper foot. However he might do it again and again and he made it sound so even. And that was the first document that got here out – that is ridiculous. It is like a masterpiece, that drumming. You’d get fired for those who performed that many notes on a document in the present day! It is wonderful how he made it work – it is so musical.
Learn to play “The Immigrant Music,” “Good Occasions Dangerous Occasions,” “Rock and Roll” the best way John did it, “Entire Lotta Love,” “When the Levee Breaks,” “Kashmir,” “Black Canine,” “The Crunge” – these songs are like going to highschool and studying tips on how to play the drums. “Communication Breakdown,” “The Rover” with the best tempo and the best really feel, “Custard Pie,” “The Wanton Music,” “You Shook Me.” Each single tune I discussed is completely different. “Stairway to Heaven” – these fills when he got here in. “The Ocean,” “Dancing Days.” Each single a type of songs is a lesson. It could possibly be a chapter – you examine the tune for per week and study to play it precisely. It is a data of components, really feel, time. It is unimaginable.
MIKE PORTNOY [Dream Theater, Sons of Apollo, Winery Dogs]: He was one of many all-time greats. He was simply rock stable, and one in all a form. His swing and his really feel is unparalleled. No one performed like John Bonham, and nonetheless to at the present time, no person actually can play like John Bonham – as a lot as everyone tries. He’ll eternally 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 Bear in mind the Legendary John Bonham.