Revisit Led Zeppelin’s searing performance of ‘Moby Dick’ as John Bonham plays for his son
There are few drummers who can stand up to the power and precision of John Bonham, except, of course, his son Jason Bonham. The Led Zeppelin man’s son even went on to fill in for his father after the drummer sadly passed away in 1980. We may have found the moment that the inspiration to get behind the kit firmly implanted itself in Jason’s mind.
It’s 1975 and frankly, there is no bigger band on the planet than Led Zeppelin. Performing at Earl’s Court in London, Zeppelin are ready and willing to bring the house down and they choose to do so with Bonham’s ultimate piece of powerhouse percussion, ‘Moby Dick’.
Before his untimely death in 1980, Bonham was the juggernaut of the band, driving it forward and adding a heavy dose of meat and bones to the Page and Plant’s expertly golden-gilded dinner service. He was the engine of a runaway steam train.
Not often do instrumental tracks make it into great rock acts’ top 10 lists, but this song appears in almost every collection created in reference to John Bonham. However, rarely do those aforementioned non-charting instrumental songs include a drum solo from one of the greatest drummers to have ever lived.
We like to imagine that when Zeppelin got ready to lay down the track, Bonzo saw the solo in ‘Moby Dick’ as a warning shot from the band’s 1969 Led Zeppelin II record. It was the first shot at the feet of all the other jazz, rock, and R&B drummers out there that Bonham could do it all.
Back to 1975, and with a huge crowd in front of him, Bonham gets ready to deliver his solo for the adoring audience. The introduction from Robert Plant before the track often signalled he was off for a cigarette break but for this performance, with a special guest in attendance, Plant had something special up his sleeve.
“Tonight, there’s a lad watching his dad,” says Plant addressing the audience, “who is a remarkable drummer even though he’s eight years old. He’s a better drummer than 80% of rock group drummers today and he’s eight years old. So, Jason Bonham, this your dad, John Bonham! ‘Moby Dick’!”
What follows is quite baffling near half-hour-long performance, which for the majority of it sees Bonham deliver a searing solo and create noises out of a drum kit that most people would struggle to achieve with a laptop. As various members of Zeppelin add their own flourishes here and there, Bonham is on a mission to inspire and inflame his young son.
He’s keen to show him what drumming is all about and we couldn’t think of a better teacher. While drum solos aren’t for everyone—especially near 30 minutes of them—here, Bonham does his best to create truly impressive, textured pieces of percussion-led music which will live forever in the minds of all those who watched it.
Below, you can have your chance to see it too as we take you back to Earls’ Court in 1975 to revisit Led Zeppelin’s performance of ‘Moby Dick’.