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John Bonham's last Led Zeppelin drumkit was "intimidating"

Ludwig black and white swirl Vistalite heads for auction

The last remaining John Bonham owned drumkit is joining Jimi Hendrix's torched Fender Strat at auction. The Ludwig black and white spiral Vistalite was used by the drummer during his time with Led Zeppelin, and is reportedly the only kit in existence outside of the Bonham estate.

The drums are drenched in history, originally given to music critic Chris Welch as a gift from John Bonham, before being acquired by Phil Harris, owner of vintage gear suppliers Harris Hire.

We spoke to Chris Welch about how he came to own the drums: "I was just having a drink with John [Bonham] and he asked me if I wanted it. He was always very generous like that".

"I was just having a drink with John and he asked me if I wanted it. He was always very generous like that". Chris Welch

"He gave me the metal shell snare drum first, which was my favourite part of the kit", he continued.

"I used to play with it in a traditional jazz band. People were always pretty stunned when I turned up with it – they were impressed with its size, but intimidated at the same time. They'd expect to hear Led Zeppelin, not When The Saints Go Marching In!"

"I did want to keep the snare drum, but decided to sell the kit as a whole - it was just collecting dust in my garage. I was pleased that other bands would have the opportunity to use it".

The Vistalite's current owner Phil Harris discussed his time with the kit: "It's the equivalent of John Bonham's stage kit - a 26" bass drum, a 14" rack, a 16" floor and an enormous 20" floor that's so à la Bonham it's unreal".

"It's been used a lot", he added. "I hired it out to the Manic Street Preachers and Robbie Williams. When Robbie hired it, they set it up and put it in a studio on its own. Everyone stood around looking at it in awe of the presence of the late Mr John Bonham".

Keen eyes last spotted the familiar black and white swirls at The Mighty Boosh festival earlier this month. If the comedy duo Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt want to keep it, they'll have to get bidding on 4 September at The Fame Bureau with the rest of us.


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