Happy Birthday: John Bonham
It was on this date in 1948 that John “Bonzo” Bonham first arrived on this planet, and rock ‘n’ roll was as blessed by his presence as it was devastated by his early departure. In celebration of the drumming legend’s life, here are five quotes of note – two from the man himself, one each from his former Led Zeppelin bandmates – which should remind you just how great he was at his craft. And if for some reason you should need additional reminding, then the official Led Zeppelin playlist is right there for you to play and enjoy.
"I've always been obsessed with drums. They fascinate me. Any other instrument - nothing. I play acoustic guitar a bit. But it's always been drums first and foremost. I don't reckon on this Jack-of-all-trades thing. I think that felling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts." - John Bonham: The Powerhouse Behind Led Zeppelin, by Mick Bonham
“Five months before Led Zeppelin appeared, I was playing with Robert [Plant] in a group called Band of Joy, and we did a tour as a supporting act with Tim Rose when he was playing England. Then Tim Rose went back home and we continued for a bit longer, then we broke up. Tim Rose was coming back for another tour and he remembered me from the Band of Joy and offered me the job, and I took it. So Robert and I lost contact for about two or three months. The next time I saw him was with Tim Rose, and he’d joined what was then the Yardbirds, because at that time it was just going to be the Yardbirds. He said they needed a drummer for the new group. About two weeks later he came with Jimmy to one of TimRose’s concerts and saw me playing, and then I got offered the job.” – interview with Ritchie Yorke, 1970
"He only used a small kit, but he used to play large drums. He never played a large kit in terms of the number of drums - he only ever used four drums most of the time, and never had racks of stuff, like people did in the beginning of the 1970's. He could do most of what he wanted on a small amount of equipment. It didn't matter what drums they were: I'd hear him sit down on all sorts of strange drum kits and he'd immediately sound like him. It was just the way he hit them, plus an impeccable sense of timing." – John Paul Jones, John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums, by Chris Welch
"Almost the moment he died, they put him in Playboy as one of the greatest drummers, which he was - there's no doubt about it. There's never been anybody since. He's one of the greatest drummers that ever lived - John was the greatest rock drummer ever, as far as I'm concerned." – Jimmy Page, John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums, by Chris Welch
"Bonzo was the main part of the band. He was the man who made whatever Page and I wrote basically work, by what he held back, by what he didn't do to the tempos. I don't think there's anyone in the world who could replace him." – Robert Plant, John Bonham: The Powerhouse Behind Led Zeppelin, by Mick Bonham