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Music

The Police, Jimi Hendrix and more: Inside John Bonham's personal vinyl collection

When one thinks of the greatest drummers of all time, you’re typically met with the same names. Neil Peart, Ginger Baker, Gene Krupa, Keith Moon, it’s a case of the usual suspects when it to discussing rhythmic masterminds. This is partly down to the fact that it is rare for a drummer to be truly excellent, unlike with guitarists and frontmen. 

Many of our favourite drummers are dextrous, versatile and, more often than not, slightly unhinged. Billy Moony, the sticksman in Roddy Doyle’s 1987 novel The Commitments and the classic film of the same name, is a perfect caricature of the modern drummer.

One would argue that the most iconic figure in drumming belonged to English rock titans Led Zeppelin. Their rhythmic lynchpin was John Bonham, who can only be described as a genius. Tragically, he passed away at only 32 in 1980, but it’s a testament to the power of his work that he is still so revered to this day. He gave Ginger Baker and Gene Krupa a run for their money and managed to influence the proliferation of many different styles of drumming. 

Notably, Bonham hit the drums with Thor-like power, and his fluid style marked him out from the crowd. He managed to blend strength with groove, and without him, it is certain that Led Zeppelin would not have risen so meteorically and replaced The Beatles as the biggest band on the planet. He cherrypicked from jazz, world music and rock, and cultivated an unmistakable style that many have tried and failed to imitate. 

Duly, for a figure who was so game-changing, a large mythos surrounds him. He’s one of the best examples of a ‘rock god’, to such an extent that his legend precedes his music. Since his passing, Bonham’s disciples have sought to get to know him a little better, as, by all accounts, he was a brilliant bloke.

John Bonham’s five favourite artists of all time

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Whether it be who he considered his drumming heroes, his lifestyle outside of the band, or even what his beer of choice was, Bonham’s life has been picked apart by fans of five different generations. Amongst all the golden nuggets of information that fans have unearthed, there is a real gem that accounts for just how eclectic his musical tastes were. This is the fact that John Bonham was a fan of new wave heroes The Police. 

During an interview with Chris Welch for Traps, his sister Deborah Bonham recalled: “The house was always full of music: James Brown, The Everly Brothers, a lot of Motown. John’s record collection had everything. And it was all great music: Little Feat, The Police, Kansas, Hendrix.” 

When you stop to think about it, it’s not that surprising that Bonham was a fan of The Police. They were one of the most dynamic outfits of the era, and were augmented by their own stellar rhythm section, bassist Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland. Copeland is a lauded drummer in his own right, and his jazz-inspired style rightly confirmed his place amongst the greats. 

The thought of John Bonham kicking back with a cold one listening to ‘Roxanne’ is an incredible one, so cherish it.

Listen to ‘Roxanne’ by The Police below.