There is a reason that John Bonham is dubbed a thunder of drums and boy oh boy if this particular solo doesn’t prove to you why then nothing will. The late Led Zeppelin member may very well be the most influential drummer of all time and the bulk of this Promethean feat resides in his sheer unabating power.
Modern greats like Matt Helders of the Arctic Monkeys have borrowed a slew of tips from the swashbuckling star. As Helders said himself: “I’d have to say that John Bonham is my favourite drummer of all time. He’s somebody that I always come back to. The reason why I picked this record purely comes down to a fill he does at the end of the ‘Moby Dick’ solo — before the band comes back in. It gives me chills, and that’s no exaggeration. I can hardly even express what it does to me. It’s perfect, absolutely perfect.”
Helders then acknowledged why Bonham was so inspirational, attributing it to his unique way of approaching the drums. He said: “I hadn’t been playing the drums all that long when I heard it for the first time, and I thought, ‘It sounds unreachable to get to a standard like that.’ It’s not that it’s so difficult – a lot of people could learn to play it, and I’m sure they have. But the way that he executes it is just so unique – there’s so much character to it.”
He concluded: “Half of the albums on this list could easily have been by Led Zeppelin, but I picked this one because, in addition to being incredible, there is that lick on ‘Moby Dick’. Sure, it’s part of a drum solo, and drummers love drum solos – well, not everybody; some people get bored of them, I guess. But there’s something special to that one moment where he comes out of the solo. It gets me every time.”
These are words that have been echoed by everyone who has ever picked up the sticks and stuck with their passion enough to bring it to fruition. Nowhere is that force made clearer than when Bonham really gets going in clips like the one below where he fittingly lays into the aforementioned ‘Moby Dick’ like a man possessed.
The epic 17-minute drum solo was dedicated to Bonham’s son, as he pounds his way through ‘Moby Dick’ one fateful night at Earls Court in 1977. Even Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones watch on in awe-inspired wonder as awakens spirits from the rafters with his unearthly rhythm and force. If you’re feeling a little bit sensitive about your own drumming ability at the moment then perhaps leave it for another day, for everyone else, enjoy…