We’re looking back at the powerful presence and equally heavyweight percussion of the legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham. To do so, we’ve taken a look at the epic isolated drum track on Zep’s ‘Fool In The Rain’.
It’s hard to quantify the impact Led Zeppelin had on music. Each member of the band were behemoths of their field, Jimmy Page, of course, is widely regarded as one of the finest guitarists in rock, John Paul Jones had an internal rhythm that samba dancers could be proud of and Robert Plant sang like a fallen angel. But they would be nothing without Bonham.
The track is a slightly sore point for some fans of the legendary rock band is it came about just before the band’s split, an aching reminder of how bloody brilliant they were and what could have been. ‘Fool in the Rain’ is the third song on Led Zeppelin’s 1979 album In Through the Out Door. It was the last single released in the US before they formally disbanded in 1980. The song reached number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1980.
The facts and figures behind the song may be considered interesting—at a stretch. But it’s most certainly not why we are here. We’re here for the iconic drums of one particular musician. The heavy metal that ran through the core of Led Zeppelin. We’re here to focus on a man who must be considered as one of the best in his field, least of all because he pretty much changed it overnight.
When Zeppelin arrived on the scene they were massively influenced by the extraordinary wealth of talent in London at the time. Whether it was Cream, with iconic drummer Ginger Baker, or indeed The Stones or Beatles, the capital was awash with keen musicians all desperate to prove themselves on the sonic landscape. Bonham wanted to do things differently.
Bonham changed the makeup of what a rock and roll drummer should do, but naturally, he was still keen to prove himself as a “proper” drummer. Back in the mid-to-late sixties, a time before the talent liberation of punk, proving oneself in the gladiatorial pit also known as a ‘jam session.’
But rather than follow the norm of backing the guys up front, Bonham was keen to add his own mark on every song. Using power and precision over finesse and flirtation, Bonham put his kit to work every night. By 1979 he was an expert and a battle-hardened General of heavy metal.
On ‘Fool In The Rain’ Bonham is at his undeniable best. Sharp and meticulous in his timing, he matches every metronomic note with the rugged and robust play that carved him out as an icon. Bonham was adept at adding his own signature with every hit without overshadowing the thrust of the song.
So while we share the sadness of John Bonham’s loss to music, we can at least be grateful that we have this incredible work to enjoy forever.