If you went to the dictionary and looked up ‘rock drummer’ chances are there would be a picture of Led Zeppelin’s mammoth percussionist John Bonham pleasantly staring back at you with sticks in his hands and a murderous glint in his eye. That’s because any drummer or professional musician worth their salt would pick out Bonham as the best.
If you needed any further proof of that you need to only listen to the plethora of plaudits Bonham received both during his lifetime and after his tragic death in 1980. The Led Zeppelin man is rightly revered as one of the greatest and it is with performances like this that he made his claim. Below, we’re taking a look at the thunderous isolated drums of John Bonham on Led Zeppelin’s song ‘Ramble On’.
Taken from Led Zeppelin II, the album the quartet released in 1969, the vision for ‘Ramble On’ was one of fantasy from Robert Plant. The singer, like many other artists his age, had become inspired by the work of fantasy fiction writer J.R.R. Tolkein and with the track makes reference to its impact on him.
The singer used moments throughout the lyrics to express his connection, lines like “the darkest depths of Mordor” and “Gollum and the evil one” are both doffs of the caps to the writer. It’s a section of lyrics that Plant later confessed to being embarrassed about.
One of Zeppelin’s more obviously joyous songs, the upbeat tone of the cut is perfectly complimented by guitarist Jimmy Page’s silky solo which saunters in around the one minute 47-second mark. It swirls and spirals like a magician’s spell and there is something entirely hypnotic about it. But, of course, that’s not why we’re here.
Another effervescent pulse to this track comes from Bonzo. The drummer isn’t over-indulgent or too committed, he is cultured and cultivated, smashing through the skins with a heavy degree of sophistication that isn’t often attributed to him with the greatest of ease. Although the drummer was never afforded the opportunity to perform it live, we do have this vision of his performance.
When the drums are isolated and given more space to breathe, the power that Bonham has within his hand is truly out there for all to see. Listen below to John Bonham’s thunderous isolated drum track for Led Zeppelin’s ‘Ramble On’ below.