Carmine Appice on how John Bohnam ‘borrowed’ his fills from Vanilla Fudge

Many would consider John Bonham the greatest rock drummer of all time: a powerhouse with a strong sense of groove, lightning-fast right foot and the thunderous fills are all standout elements of his playing. 

However drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Rod Stewart and many more) claimed in a recent radio interview with The Freewaves WUNH, that Bonham borrowed a lot of his Vanilla Fudge stick tricks and drum fills.

"I did a lot of things with twirling and grabbing cymbals." says Appice. "When I met Tommy Lee, he said, 'So where'd you get that? I got it from John Bonham'. I said 'John Bonham got it from me'. He didn't believe me."

"When we got home, he came to my house, I played the Ed Sullivan show with Vanilla Fudge in 1968 where I was doing that, and Led Zeppelin wasn't even out yet. He said, 'Dude, I can't believe you were doing it first.'"

"I played him the end of [Vanilla Fudge’s 1968 single] Shotgun, which was out like five years before Rock and Roll, [1971] the same kind of ending on Rock and Roll that I did at the end of Shotgun, so I blew Tommy Lee's mind."

The interviewer then asked “Does it ever annoy you? Do you think, 'Oh my god! He's sampling me, he's stealing’?

"You know, when [Bonham] was coming up and we toured with him, we did that very first gig - they opened up for Vanilla Fudge, and we became friends."

"He would do something, look at me like, deliberately, and do one of my fills, and we both laughed. Who knew that those fills were going to become associated with him?


"People that know my playing know his playing say 'Wow!'. Like Steve Smith, the great drummer from Journey called me up one day and said, 'Man, I just listened to your Renaissance album and all the John Bonham fills are all over your album.' 'Yeah, I know.'"

John got so big with Zeppelin, but there are a lot of people that realise where things originated - like Modern Drummer magazine, Drum Magazine said that I created heavy metal drumming, and I'm the first heavy drummer by Modern Drummer."

"And at the time, we didn't know what we were doing; nothing was labeled, we were just trying to do what we do and become heard without a PA system."


Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.