We love Bonzo!
To mark what would have been John Bonham's 68th birthday we have trawled through the vaults and picked out some of drumming's biggest stars paying tribute to Bonzo. We didn't have to search too hard...
"John Bonham was one of those guys that I just wanted to be like. Who puts a drum solo on their second record and gets away with it?
"That took balls, but they had the confidence to do it. After that record they couldn’t do a thing wrong. [Led Zep IV is] definitely an album for drummers. ‘Stairway To Heaven’, for me growing up and hearing that song on the radio, I couldn’t wait for that song to come on. You have to wait a while for the drums to come in, but when they do it’s so awesome.
"It’s probably one of the greatest songs ever recorded without a chorus. I always think about the way Zeppelin worked. ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ is a drummer’s dream. The drums sound explosive, then that snare roll at the end. There’s so much feel in that song, the way he pulls it back. After that is ‘Four Sticks’, and he played that with four sticks. The time signature of that song is a little strange to catch. He has the hi-hat going the whole time. The way it was recorded was kind of avante garde at the time because it doesn’t really go into anybeat, just toms.”
“Bonham’s intro and solo outro on ‘Rock And Roll’ can’t be topped. And, the way he brings in the band with that perfect fill and groove on ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is simply magical. I can’t wait for it every time I hear the song!”
“My first influence was Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts, then the great Keith Moon. Bonham’s right on the back of that.
That drum sound was what really drove me and pulled me into it. That’s where my style really generated from – those four guys. The first song that really inspired me was ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and the middle breakdown, where he was playing a lift hat. then he would play a percussive motif on the bell. I never heard anything like it in my life!”
"Every album Bonzo recorded with Zeppelin is mandatory listening for every drummer... but Led Zeppelin IV perhaps is the band and Bonham at theirmost iconic. ‘Black Dog’ is a great example of Bonham laying down such a strong groove in the midst of changing odd time signatures... ‘
"Four Sticks’ is a great example of Bonzo’s creativity with instrumentation as well as his ability to make an odd time signature still swing (in this case 5/4)... And of course, the drum intros to both ‘Rock And Roll’ and ‘When The Levee Breaks’ are perhaps two of the most famous drum intros of all-time! This is the stuff of legends...”
“I love any musician with a strong character that is able to adapt to the music. He had such a wonderful groove and sound and blended the two perfectly. having played with Jimmy and knowing how tricky his songs can be I really understand the mastery of John’s approach to those iconic tunes. Always puts a smile on my face to hear him play!”
“IV was the record that really inspired me on drums. The first song I learned how to play was ‘Black Dog’. Every track on that record is incredible!
‘Stairway To Heaven’ is such a classic, timeless song. Come on! ‘Rock And Roll’, ‘Misty Mountain Hop’! It doesn’t get better than that and Bonzo’s feel, sound and overall performance is the reason why he was the King!”