Given the fact that John Bonham is undoubtedly one of the greatest drummers the world has ever known, we thought we’d take a look back at the Led Zeppelin man’s greatest moment. That moment is his insane drum solo for ‘Moby Dick’ at Royal Albert Hall in 1970—clocking in around 15 minutes of pure powerhouse percussion.
The drummer will go down in the rock and roll history books as easily one of the best musicians in his field—flanked only by Keith Moon and Ginger Baker. Despite the backing of his unstoppably talented band, Led Zeppelin, without which the world may never have got to witness the sheer power and precision of his percussion. In the clip, Bonzo shows that he could lead a band all on his own.
Before his untimely death in 1980, Bonham was the powerhouse juggernaut of the band, driving it forward and adding a heavy dose of meat and bones to the Page and Plant’s expertly 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 songs include a drum solo from one of the greatest drummers to have ever lived.
Bonzo’s solo in ‘Moby Dick’ was 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.
His complex patterns were wired like circuit boards and he unleashed his unique fills with an electrified charge. So much so, that when Led Zeppelin performed the song live, Robert Plant would simply introduce Bonham to the audience and leave the stage.
It’s likely he did so to avoid serious burns from Bonham, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones deep and filthy 12-bar blues as they unleashed one of the greatest instrumental songs of all time. While sometimes they can feel stilted or noodling, Led Zeppelin’s version of the instrumental song is a powerful injection of heavy rock remedy.
Below, watch one of the finest performances of the song ever seen as Led Zeppelin take to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970 and let rip a ‘Moby Dick’ capable of creating a tsunami.