“Give the drummer some” . . . : What Makes John Bonham Such a Good Drummer?

Forgive me for I have sinned. I will admit that that I got in Led Zeppelin relatively late. I partially blame high school tribalism for it. You see my group of friends were the freaks. We were into the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, etc. Then there were the greasers. They were into Zeppelin, Black Sabbath. You get the picture. High school being high school, it would have been a major betrayal of the tribe if you were caught listening to their music. Lucky for me I eventually grew out of that parochialism and grew to appreciate them for the absolute amazing band that they were. And as fantastic as Plant, Page and Jones are, the key to it all was drummer John Bonham.

I am not a drummer but as a bassist I think I can appreciate a good drummer. I’ve also come to realize that it would benefit all musicians if they took at least a little time studying drummers. When John McLaughlin asked Miles Davis for advise when he was starting a band, Miles said, “Make sure you have a bitchin’ drummer” (McLaughlin went on to form The Mahavishnu Orchestra with Billy Cobham on drums, nuff said). From my own personal experience with bands, I’ve found that it’s hard for an otherwise good band to overcome a mediocre drummer and likewise, a mediocre band can be elevated by a good drummer.

The video below is from a You Tuber that I’ve highlighted previously, Polyphonic, with a fascinating breakdown of John Bonham’s drum style. He talks about Bonham’s triplet feel and his use of syncopation which he got from jazz and funk respectively. It speaks to my contention that when you take in artistic input from varied sources, your own art will benefit.

What Makes John Bonham Such a Good Drummer? – 

Below is a link to a drum tutorial that deals with the use of triplets that was a key point to the previous video.

John Bonham Triplet Exercisehttp://johnbonham.co.uk/tutorials/triplets/john-bonham-triplets-tutorial.html

Finally a video from Rick Beato that really gets into the nitty gritty of Bonham’s drum setups. It goes way over my head into the minutiae of drum hardware but I found it fascinating on how it reminded me of how guitarists (and bassists) can go all a gaga over gear.

John Bonham: Achieving The Bonham Drum Sound –

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Posted in Classic Rock, Music Appreciation and Analysis

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