Friday, May 22, 2009

Remembering John Bonham

John BonhamJohn Bonham via

Remembering John Bonham by Mark Brownlee

The late great John Bonham is still regarded today as one of the greatest ever rock drummers, even decades after his death. Why? Well, why not! John's playing has inspired countless thousands of drummers around the world to pick up the sticks and play. His style has been hugely imitated, copied, and sampled and he paved the way for the hard rock drummers of today. Let's take a closer look.


John's style was one of the best features of his playing, he really got stuck into the drums hard and got a big powerful sound from them. He used big, deep drums when other drummers in the 70's were playing much smaller sizes. Not only that, but he tuned them quite tight and didn't use any padding or dampening at all. He wanted a huge, powerful, open sound, and that's what he got.


Just as good was John's feel, he could certainly lay down a mean groove. On Led Zeppelin tracks like 'Whole lotta love' for example where the beat is almost swung slightly, the track is brought to life and feels much more alive and edgy. Instead of just playing straight and solid, John brought the feel of a real drummer to the music with ghosted notes, dynamics, and a mild swing inspired by some of his jazz drumming influences like Buddy Rich.


Another great thing about John's drumming was his ability to come up with musical ideas that were integral to the song. Zeppelin's riffs weren't just on guitar and bass, they were on drums too! Big driving fills, and crash cymbals propelled the songs forward, while his intricate snare buzz strokes and bass drum triplets added substance and interest to the sound.

Drum Solos

John Bonham was also well known for playing some amazing drum solos, especially 'Moby Dick' that featured in live shows. Here John would use the whole drum set with sticks, play with his hands, and also use percussion like bongos and congas. He even had a large Paiste gong at the back of his set-up and sometimes used large orchestral timpani drums too. Talk about being creative and interesting! These solos could last as long as 15 to 30 minutes and showed the depth of John's drumming ability and technique.


Very few drummers have had such a lasting impact decades after their death. The fact that today's drummers look back at what John did in the 1970's and still regard it as some of the best rock drumming ever, goes to show how important it was. John has influenced, and continues to influence, the playing of tens of thousands of drummers around the world. And rightly so. John Bonham is one of the greatest drummers in rock music.

For further information about John Bonham including videos, pictures, biography, discography, quotes, set-up and more, visit the John Bonham page at

Mark Brownlee has been playing drums for more than 12 years and has obtained a BA Hons degree in popular music studies. He now writes drum related articles and supports the drumming community with his website which features articles, videos, lessons, news, drummer biographies, pictures and more.

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