Ask a rock 'n' roll fan who the greatest rock drummer of all time is, and odds are they'll say John Bonham.
John Bonham (Wikimedia Commons/Dina Regine)
Sure, there are other fantastic rock drummers out there, both past and current, but Bonham is the one who shows up at the very top of best-drummer lists by Rolling Stone, Classic Rock, Rhythm, and an ever-growing list of rock magazines and websites. He was simply amazing – the Led Zeppelin drummer coaxed power out of his Ludwig kit that few could match. And he was a massive influence on almost every rock drummer who came after him. Rock 'n' roll owes a lot to John Bonham.
Bonham would have turned 64 today – twice the age he was upon his premature death in 1980. We've got the speakers cranked in tribute to his mastery.
"Immigrant Song" showcases Bonham's technical skill and his tight interplay with the rest of the rhythm section.
To achieve the heavy, slightly muffled drum sound of "When the Levee Breaks," Bonham had the idea to put the drum kit at the bottom of a staircase and a microphone at the top. The result was legendary.
And then there's Bonham's tour de force, "Moby Dick." The quick guitar-and-bass intro led into a drum solo that sometimes lasted up to 30 minutes, at times included Bonham casting his sticks aside to play with his hands, and on occasion left him bleeding.
Bonham is gone, but the blood, sweat and tears that he put into his music make him a hard act to follow – and decades after his death, he’s still number one.
Written by Linnea Crowther