Today would have marked another trip around the sun for John Bonham. Had he lived, we’d be celebrating 50 years of Led Zeppelin music and this list would, undoubtedly, be bigger. It’s hard to comb through the Zep catalog and just pick 5, but these are the best of the best drum tracks from John Bonham.
5) The Ocean
Mannnn, this jam is classic Bonham to me. The tone of his snare. The power behind it. The unpredictability of the hit and then the loose swinging beat towards the end. One of my favorites off Houses of the Holy.
4) Moby Dick
Talk about endurance! John would finish this drum solo with bloody hands after pounding away for up to 30 (!) minutes on stage. On Led Zeppelin II, the solo spans 3 minutes of brilliance and makes it’s mark as rock’s best drum solo to this day.
3) Trampled Under Foot
This is funky one. Inspired by Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, it’s alllll rhythm from the first hit. Snare snare snare. A real surprise of a track from Physical Graffiti. John was a true artist and chameleon.
2) Four Sticks
Two sticks in each hand, John Bonham mastered this one in two takes for a truly unique sound. It was much harder to mix as a result of the compressor on the drums, and only performed live once. Creative and abstract, this track is truly a stand out on Zoso.
1) When The Levee Breaks
John Bonham at his best. Although it’s a cover, John brought a distinct sound to the recording session by thinking outside of the box. The drums were recorded in a stairwell at Headley Grange with the microphones planted 3 stories up. The drum sound echoed skyward and was captured on the mics, creating a mammoth tone not fit for just 7 minutes of music.