John Bonham’s ferocious isolated drums on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Heartbreaker’
The late, great John Bonham is in the conversation as being the greatest drummer of all time—and for good reason. If, and that is a big if, anybody still needed convincing of this fact then the isolated version of ‘Heartbreaker’ by Led Zeppelin which focuses on Bonham’s skills is on hand to prove you wrong.
If you ask any drummer in the world to name a handful of sticksmen who they most admire as drumming gods then the imperial talent of Bonham is a dead cert to feature on any decent list.
Bonham’s unique furious, commanding technique was the pounding heartbeat behind Led Zeppelin. Following the drummer’s death, the band were never quite the same live act and were unable to recapture that same magic the group concocted every time they stepped foot on stage when Bonham was at the helm.
Bonham was the powerhouse juggernaut of the band, driving it forward and provided the perfect foundations for Page, Plant and Jones to add their gallons of flair to which led to greatness. But without Bonham, this wouldn’t have been possible.
1969 effort ‘Heartbreaker’, which was taken from Led Zeppelin II, quickly became a favourite amongst fans which, it must be said, is down in no small part to do with Bonham’s performance on the track. While Jimmy Page takes the plaudits on this song with his insane guitar solo—which is widely viewed as being one of the finest guitar performances of all time—Bonham is back there propping up the band.
Legendary Rick Rubin described it as being: “One of the greatest riffs in rock. It [“Heartbreaker”] starts, and it’s like they don’t really know where the “one” is. Magical in its awkwardness.”
Page’s show-stealing performance does take the limelight from Bonham’s magnificence somewhat which makes the isolated version even more superb, offering a closer look at a master at work while seemingly slipping under the radar. Detailing a somewhat underappreciated and vital role on the track, the drummer somehow keeps everything together.