Tributes have been paid to the “greatest drummer of all time” on what would have been his 62nd birthday.
Legendary drummer John Bonham died suddenly in 1980 at the age of 32. Despite his untimely death, during his years as Led Zeppelin’s drummer he helped guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant create such famous songs as Stairway to Heaven and Kashmir, changing the face of popular music in the process.
Bonham had a unique style and unmatchable talent which ensures he will be remembered as a great musician as well as rock innovator. On the anniversary of what would have been the ex-Led Zeppelin drummer’s 62nd birthday, BBC 6 Music conducted a celebration of his distinguished career and defining talents.
Speaking to the radio station, Led Zeppelin band mate John Paul Jones said that Bonham’s talent on the drums was easy to spot, and that from the first time he watched him play he was convinced about his skills.
“Thirty seconds,” he claimed. “The first thing we ever played together, the first time we met was in a rehearsal studio in Lyle street in London and we played a thing called A Train Kept a Rolling, which was a Yardbirds song, and as soon as we started, by about the fourth bar I realised this is going to be great, this is a great drummer.”
Jones also praised Bonham’s style. “He plays behind the beat or in front of the beat depending on what it needs, what the beat needs, most drummers can only play on the beat if they’re lucky, but he could move it around which takes a good bit of skill and musical awareness to know that it needs to be moved around,” he added.
Bonham has continued to be a major influence for a number of successful artists, with rock drummers such as Tony Thompson, Tommy Lee, Peter Criss, Stewart Copeland and Chad Smith all citing him as an inspiration.
Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters once described him as being the “greatest drummer of all time” and it is likely that he will continue to encourage new generations of drummers for years to come.
Click here to buy Bonham’s biography, featuring a track-by-track recordings analysis, 45 colour photos, and a detailed inventory of his kits and equipment.
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