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24 September 2019 1,732 views 9 Comments

Remembering John Bonham 39 years gone today…

To mark the 39th anniversary of his passing, I’ve rounded up 39 examples of his percussive perfection. Along with countless fans around the world I will be indulging in many of these remarkable performances as we remember the man who still remains at the heart and soul of Led Zeppelin…

John Bonham 1948 – 1980:

Always loved…Always remembered… Always played…

Play these and remember him this way…

She’s A Mod – The Senators – (1964)

The earliest appearance on record of the young John Bonham on record. There’s plenty of busy fills on this Twist and Shoutish typical mid 60s beat boom outing.

Hear it: Brum Beat Compilation/YouTube

For What it’s Worth –  Band Of Joy (1967)

* Another early recorded remnants of the teenage Bonham with the Band Of Joy and fellow Midlander one Robert Plant.

Robert Plant said: ‘’You can hear Zeppelin in there. Bonzo’s doing a lot of those drum figures and fills which were quite popular with drummers like Carmine Appice all that virtuoso drumming. It was like ‘’Here I am everybody: somebody get me in a really big band quick -I want to get away from Plant!‘’

Hear it: Robert Plant – Sixty Six To Timbuktu (Atlantic)

Good Times Bad Times (1969)

*From the dramatic two beat opening, John Bonham puts the whole kit through its paces. That pioneering use of bass drum triplets heralded the arrival of a very special drummer.(DL)

Jimmy Page said: ‘’In terms of John’s playing, a big point of reference is Good Time Bad Times. He’s playing brilliantly on everything else but this is right out of the norm – playing a bass drum pattern that no one else has ever heard.’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)

 How Many More Times (Live BBC Playhouse Theatre 1969)

* An early live fave of course with that stimulating Gene Krupa inspired jazzy opening.

John Bonham said :‘’Gene Krupa was the first big band drummer to be really noticed. He came out and played the drums much louder than they ever had before. People didn’t take notice of drums until Krupa came along’’

Hear It: BBC Sessions (Atlantic)

bonzo may 31

Whole Lotta Love (1969)

One of one of their most potent studio moments and perhaps Bonzo’s best studio performance.

Clock the percussive perfection: Where else but that battering ram snare roll at 3.02 that leads into Page’s solo

Hear It: Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic)

Ramble On (1969)

* The pitter patter of bare hands against drum dominates throughout.

John Bonham said: ‘’You get a lovely little tone out of the drums that you couldn’t get with the sticks. You get an absolute true drum sound because there’s no wood involved’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic)

We’re Gonna Groove (Live Royal Albert Hall 1970)

* Simply Devastating. From the moment Bonzo warms up the kit through the frenzied opening and ride cymbal onslaught. Definitive John Bonham.

John Paul Jones said: ‘’I’ve seen all three James Brown drummers stand around him at the Newport Festival in disbelief wondering how one guy does what all three of them did’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Music Vision)

Moby Dick (Live Royal Albert Hall 1970)

* Yes seeing is believing – superbly restored for the 2003 DVD this is 15 minutes of sheer percussive brilliance. Bonzo clatters, rattles, shakes and bangs his way into percussive immortality.

John Bonham said: ‘’My son Jason plays. I’ve got a kit made to scale for him. He’s got a great sense of time- even when we go out in the car he takes his sticks to bash on the seats.

Before the end of Led Zeppelin I’m going to have him onstage with us at the Albert Hall’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Music Vision)

Since I’ve Been Loving You (1970)

* Proving there’s no sin in omission, Bonzo’s sparse incisive back beat allows the rest of them to build the tension.

Clock the percussive perfection: 48 seconds in with that positively nuclear cymbal crash over Page’s Gibson squeals and Plant’s instinctive shout of ‘’Oh!’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic)

Bathroom Sound (1970)

Not so much out on the tiles as inside the drum heads…and what an instrumental percussive feast…

Hear It: Led Zeppelin III Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

Gallows Pole (1970)

* Clock the percussive perfection: The tension builds and then blam!-  he’s in at 2.04 to gallop amongst the gallows.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 3 (Atlantic)

 Poor Tom (1970)

* An invigorating New Orleans jazz straight eighth shuffle opens and carries the track throughout. An absolute masterclass of controlled percussion.

Hear It: Coda (Swan Song)

Rock And Roll (1971)

* Guaranteed to cause severe outbreaks of air drumming from the moment that cymbal crashing intro commences.

Clock the percussive perfection: It has to be that final flurry at 3.25. The most concise percussive statement ever committed to tape.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (Atlantic)

Four Sticks (1971)

* Yet another remarkable percussive statement. Bonzo tears along with a four stick attack clicking the rims of the drums in the process. Innovative and totally infectious.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin IV (Atlantic)

 When The Levee Breaks (1971)

* One drum kit, one stairwell, one microphone over the banister…a thousand samples…and the greatest of beats.

Robert Plant said: John always felt his significance was minimal but if you take him off any of our tracks, it loses it’s potency and sex. I don’t think he really knew how important he was‘’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin IVv (Atlantic)

Dazed And Confused (Live LA Forum 1972)

* A 25 minute tour de force with Bonzo in the middle of it all guiding them through early stabs at Walters Walk and The Crunge in the process.

Hear It: How The West Was Won (Atlantic)

The Crunge (1973)

* Talking of which – the boys get off on the good foot and Bonzo applies a ridiculous 9/8 time. Could anyone do The Crunge..?

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy (Atlantic)

D’yer Ma’ker (1973)

* Less reggae, more 50’s fun time led all the way by Bonzo’s huge upfront wide screen playing -leading to a deserved lead song writing credit.

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy (Atlantic)

No Quarter (Live Madison Square Garden 1973)

* Clock the percussive perfection: From 9.01 as Bonzo plays behind Jimmy’s wah wah solo displaying a hi hat syncopation favoured by the likes of 70’s funkateers Sly Stone and Tower of Power

Hear It: The Song Remains The Same Soundtrack (Swan Song)

The Ocean (Live Madison Square Garden 1973)

* Totally uplifting. This is mid period Zep in all it’s unchained unabashed carnal glory. Via the DVD we can vividly see Page playing not only to an ocean but right off the drummer’s cues and shouts.

Hear It: The Song Remains The Same Soundtrack (Swan Song)

The Rover (1975)

* First tried for Houses, it’s eventual release three years later was worth the wait. Bonzo’s machine gun snare torrents subside for  Page’s melodic embellishments.

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

In My Time Of Dying (1975)

* Perhaps their most intense and brutal performance – and it’s Bonzo constantly underpinning it all.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 7.12 and those four military barrages of power shared by Bonham and Page before Robert comes in with the line ‘’And I see it in the streets’’

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Kashmir (1975)

* Led Zeppelin in full splendour  and yet another masterful Bonham contribution. There’s no doubt that the economy in his playing gave the song it’s vastness.

Robert Plant said: ‘’A lot of Kashmir was done to Bonzo. He was a real thrifty player. It was often what he didn’t do that made it work.’’

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

The Wanton Song (1974)

* Classic machete Zep. Again it’s John Henry steadying the ship as Page’s angular riffs take hold. It’s that rock steady beat that keeps all in line.

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Over The Hills And Far Away (Live Earls Court 1975)

* Always a live favourite – the studio version was merely the starting point for the tangents within the framework.

Clock the percussive perfection: From Plant’s shout of ‘’Acapulco gold’’ at 2.35 as Bonzo drives the rhythmic experiments of Page’s solo with a two hit snare run not dissimilar to that employed on Candy Store Rock

Hear It : To Be A Rock And Not To Roll (Watch Tower bootleg)

Achilles Last Stand (1976)

* The chemistry of all four perfectly in sync to pull off perhaps their most inventive composition.

Clock the percussive perfection: So many to choose from – how about 1.17 and the first fill ,then again at 2.29 and another burst of power, or there’s the point at 4.08 when the first machine gun rally with Page kicks in.

Hear It: Presence (Swan Song)

Royal Orleans (1976)

* Bonzo cleverly plays against the riff with a funky edge on another of his co compositions.

Clock the percussive perfection: 1.56 and the interjection of bongos with the main drumming. A deft touch.

Hear It: Presence (Swan Song)

Hots On For Nowhere (1976)

* As Charles Shaar Murray noted, what the Glenn Miller orchestra would have sounded like had they been a murderously heavy four piece rock band. This one swings along with some incredible fills.

Clock the percussive perfection. At 4.01 through to the finish as he clatters around the spiralling Page runs.

Hear It: Presence (Swan Song)

Beware My Love with Paul McCartney and Wings (1976) 

This demo version of the song on Wings At The Speed Of Sound surfaced on the extended remastered package in 2014.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 1 minute 54 when John gives it a roll on the snare drum as Paul shouts out ”Intro!”

Hear it: Wings At The Speed of Sound remastered expanded edition (MPL)

Bonzo’s Montreux (1976)

* Enter the John Bonham orchestra. Bonzo had long harboured a plan for a dramatic new solo piece and the period in tax exile gave him the opportunity to experiment in Mountain Studios. The result -another percussive landmark.

Hear It: Coda (Swan Song)


The Song Remains The Same (Live LA Forum 1977)

* Despite all the off stage lunacy surrounding them now, Bonzo came through when it mattered. It certainly mattered any time they played Los Angeles and this opening night in LA was a triumph.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 1.25 to 1.36 a ten second torrent of furious snare attack as the song builds.

Hear It: Listen To This Eddie (Empress Valley bootleg)


Keep Your Hands On The Wheel – (with Roy Wood 1979)

A little known cameo performance – this track was recorded in 1978 and released on Roy Wood’s solo album. Bonzo helps out his fellow Midlands chum adding suitably widescreen drumming to a rollicking stomp.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 3 minutes when Bonzo leads them back in with a familiar clatter across snare and tom -tom.

Hear It: Roy Wood On The Road Again (Warners)

Fool In The Rain (1979)

* On this outstanding Bonham showcase we can hear the fusion influence of jazz players such as Bernard Purdie and Alphonse Mouzon.

Clock the percussive perfection. Firstly at 2.25 when the whistle blowing ushers in a Latin samba delight, then to the dexterity of his playing from 3.32 to 3.50 and the entry of Jimmy’s solo.

Robert Plant said: ‘’If you listen to Bonzo on that album -things like Fool In The Rain ,well he was weaving with as much dexterity and finesse as on the early days. One or two of us might have been struggling at that point but Bonzo still had it‘.’

Hear It: In Through The Out Door (Swan Song)

Wearing And Tearing (1979)

* He’d mixed it with the punks down at the Roxy club in ‘77 so attacking this track with Rat Scabies like vigour was chicken feed. Fast and loose and then some…Punk Rock? Never ‘eard of it…

Hear It: Coda (1978)

Sick Again (Live Knebworth 1979)

* Knebworth was a triumph for Bonzo -his playing throughout was exemplary. One of the surprise highlights of the set was this   stand alone version of Sick Again – and he is just phenomenal all the way.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 3.44 and onwards as he puts the metallic kit through it’s paces and whips up a storm right through to the stop gap ending at 5.07

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Home Vision)

In The Evening (Live Knebworth 1979)

*More magnificence as Bonzo builds the drama with that phased tympani intro.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 7.10 onwards as he compliments Plant’s pleading and Page’s Stratocaster strut with a tribal tom tom assault.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Home Vision)

Stairway To Heaven (Live in Berlin 1980)

An extraordinary performance. Page’s solo on this last ever Zeppelin delivery meandered to take the track to nearly fifteen minutes in duration. Bonzo’s task was to intrusively follow the guitarist lead which he does with deft skill.

The camaraderie of recent weeks seemed to will them on to keep the flame burning for as long as they could on this final night.

A little over 80 days later Led Zeppelin were no more

Robert Plant said: ‘’The band didn’t exist the moment Bonzo had gone to me. Sometimes I still shout up there at that mass of blue and go ’’That was not a very good trick’’

Hear It : Last Stand (Toasted Condor bootleg)

Communication Breakdown ( BBC Session 1969 )

* This take from their first John Peel session cut on March 3 1969 and aired on March 23 this fairly sizzles along -and Bonzo’s right at the heart of it.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 2 minutes 22 seconds the point were it veers off and the drummer free falls across tom tom and snare of the much employed maple Ludwig kit.

Hear It: The Complete BBC Radio Sessions CD 3 (Rhino/Atlantic )

Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod) (Reference Mix) (1975)

The outtake from the Presence sessions as recorded in November 1975. Mournful, forlorn and reflective, it creates a beautiful atmosphere. Jimmy drifts in at 2mins 39 with some minor descending electric strumming, quite possibly courtesy of the Telecaster B bender. Behind all that there’s an acoustic guitar – all very autumnal and Ten Years Gone- ish. Then John Bonham enters at 3 mins 01 and like Jimmy says, it will make you smile – it might even make you cry…

Clock the percussive perfection: At 2.25 when the drums enter with typical Bonham graceful precision.

Hear It: Presence Companion Audio Disc (Rhino/Swan Song)

”Listening to John Bonham, well that always  makes me smile ”- Jimmy Page Olympic Studios Led Zeppelin Reissue playback March 2014

Compiled by Dave Lewis

John Bonham 1948 – 1980 Always loved…Always remembered…Always played…

Dave Lewis – September 24, 2019


Redditch Rocked – September 21,2019:

I had a great time in Redditch last Saturday.

In the afternoon  I caught the Palace Drum Clinic competition

It was great to meet up with the John Bonham memorial crew including Rios Sidaway and Gemma

Ros informed me plans are underway to stage the John Bonham Celebration II event next September over the weekend of September 25/6. There are some exciting plans developing for this – more news will follow.

In the  evening I attended the superb Coda performance at the Queens Head pub. Coda never fail to hit the mark and their brand of class musicianship coupled with singer Pete’s wry between song observations made for a fantastic night with the crowd well engaged throughout. The highlight of the night for me was a a tremendous Song Remains The Same/Rain Song




As ever it, was great to meet up with so many like minded people, many I’ve known for years – Ian Avey, Chis Maley, his son John (Chris’s tales of collecting Robert Plant/Zep memorabilia were compelling!),  the legend that is Andy Adams and the man who made it all possible for me Mr Gary Davies – a cream of Zep knowledge there I’d say. As ever track, two side one of Led Zep III got it absolutely right. Friends – I’m blessed with many and seeing these guys yesterday and many others, was life quite affirming… Redditch rocked…here’s to next year and like i said more on that to follow soon.

Dave Lewis, September 2019


Led Zeppelin News Update:

In conjunction with the Led Zep news site, each week I will be re- producing highlights from their weekly email update news summary. This goes out every Sunday. Sign up details are below. Many thanks to James Cook


 Upcoming events:

September 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Moorhead, Minnesota.
September 27 – Robert Plant will perform in Missoula, Montana.
September 29 – Robert Plant will perform in Spokane, Washington.
October 1 – Robert Plant will perform in Salt Lake City, Utah.
October 3 – Robert Plant will perform in Bend, Oregon.
November – The “Play It Loud: Instruments Of Rock And Roll” exhibition will move to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
December – Jimmy Page’s new book, “Jimmy Page: The Anthology,” will be released.

Many thanks to James Cook.

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out every weekend. To receive it each week sign up here:


Jimmy Page new interview in Uncut:

This is a lengthy interview in which Jimmy talks about his career in the light of his forthcoming book The Jimmy Page Anthology via Genesis Publications. There’s some very good insights here – including a great story about how he first acquired a sitar. There are some quite prickly questions and answers too. Looking ahead, Jimmy reveals the following :

Q: You were practising this morning. Are you writing new music?

JP: There will be something next year. But before that there’s a project that will be announced later this year. It’s not necessarily musical. I’m old school, I don’t announce anything too early.

Q: is there more Led Zeppelin music in the archives?

JP: . I am always collating bootlegs and comparing them with what I have. I am meticulous. If it’s already out there, then what’s the point? I want to give fans things they have never heard.

This is the first major interview Jimmy has done for Uncut in years – and quite a coup for them. However, they have let themselves down a bit with some sloppy captioning – minor irritations maybe but irritations nonetheless:
On page 69 the pic that states it’s from their first gig in Gladsaxe on Sept 7 1968 is in fact from the Gladsaxe March 15 1969 gig –the pic on page 72 states Page and Plant perform for the live No Quarter album Marrakech 1995,it was actually in 1994,the pic on page 73 that says ‘With Roy Harper and friend 1970’ is from 1973. On page 63 there’s a typo mistake on mentioning The Yardbirds tour of Australia and NZ as being the start of 1969. I think not and I’d like to think you would not get such errors in the TBL mag!

Overall though, this new issue of uncut with a new Jimmy Page interview is well worth checking out – DL


The Beatles – Abbey Road 50th Anniversary…

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the iconic Beatles Abbey Road album – as a 13 year old, I vividly remember the impact of this album back in 1969. I am very much looking forward to the new Giles Martin produced extended package which is released on Friday. On Saturday the good lady Janet and I are meeting with Krys Jantzen to attend the world’s leading Beatles historian, Mark Lewisohn newly-created Abbey Road show HORNSEY ROAD at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre. This is part of a nationwide tour Mark is undertaking.

This two-hour live theatre presentation – full of surprises, delights, humour and excitement – will be a swift and smart illustrated history of our forever national-heroes the Beatles and their biggest album Abbey Road, providing a unique insight into the band who changed the course of culture and whose influence is still substantial.

It’s described as follows:

This two-hour live theatre presentation – full of surprises, delights, humour and excitement – will be a swift and smart illustrated history of our forever national-heroes the Beatles and their biggest album Abbey Road, providing a unique insight into the band who changed the course of culture and whose influence is still substantial.

HORNSEY ROAD illuminates Abbey Road from every angle, telling the stories behind the songs and the lives of its four creators, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – the youngest of them just 26, the eldest 29 at the time it was made. The show will explore the many momentous events that occurred during its recording, when the Beatles were creatively together inside the studio but falling apart outside. This was the year of their breakup, and the album was made at a time of turmoil in their personal and business lives, when two of them were newly married and the band lost business assets and couldn’t agree on future direction.

More details at:

Full report to follow next time around.


DL Diary Blog Update:

Friday treats at the Vinyl Barn: At the always excellent Vinyl Barn last Friday, I was well pleased to find a copy of The Bachelors album Bachelors’ Girls – not least because one James Patrick Page plays on it and even has an in joke name check on the sleeve.

Friday treats at Slide Records: Also on Friday I picked this gem up from the excellent Slide Records – the Jefferson Airplane double set that includes both Surrealistic Pillow and After Bathing At Baxter’s French/German pressing – a fiver? – I’ll take it!
Slide Records in Bedford celebrated its second birthday on Saturday. Congratulations to Warren Alsop and Nerys Bannister on establishing the shop which always has something of interest – Happy Birthday!

Busy here on various things here – not least some preparation on a new project – more on all this soon.


Dave Lewis  – September 24, 2019

Until next time –  have a great  weekend…

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

Follow TBL/DL on Facebook:

The TBL/DL Facebook page has regular updates and photos – be sure to check it out.

And follow TBL/DL on Twitter


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  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Ed many thanks – no news on that!

  • Ed said:

    I too remember all to well hearing about john’s death tickets were going onsale the next day for the chicago shows via a order form in the chicago newspaper i was 12 years old and big brother was going to take me to see led zep. on the evening of the 25th my mom took me and my brother to the shopping mall and while we were there she bought me a led zeppelin iron on t-shirt, i was so pumped i was going to get to see them and when we got home the 9pm news was on and the announcement was made what a terrible loss for music R.I.P. John Bonham

    so i see jimmy says new music next year well i too have grown a bit tired of hearing that from him every year and nothing comes out Outrider was in 1988 surely during the last 31 years he could of got another solo album out. And what about the zep live cd?? there was talk last year of a live cd of material we havent heard and the only thing we got was yet ANOTHER remaster of tsrts soundtrack
    dont get me wrong here im a HUGE fan and i dont want to sound like im bashing but come on jimmy where is this new music we keep hearing about???(from you and the live zep stuff??)

    hey Dave any updates on the zeppelin streaming service that was talked about last year? does it look like its still going to happen?? thanks and keep this fantastic work of running this site and keeping us up to date with zep activities you do a GREAT job

  • kurt said:

    Thanks as always Dave, well done. I am at peace with Zeppelin having the O2 Show as the bookend to their performance career….And I love my Tour Over Europe 1980 bootleg—wouldn’t mind if Mr. Page would give us an official release from that time? having the Zep DVD Knebworth footage also keeps me at peace. Regarding one Bobby Plant, solo artiste….The Man Himself can do whatever the hell he wants and I can piss off….However, that being said, I still find myself wondering if it would really kill him to Rock out again? Like Neil Young does, he does all the things he wants, even fully acoustic shows, then he goes out and cranks it up and Rocks! Seeing Robert onstage couple years back with Jack White (one song…sniff sniff..), maybe Robert takes Jack out and they turn it up and go for it? My last time seeing Robert Live was the DreamLand tour, and it was sooooo good. Since then, all the albums are fine, and much respect to The Man, but I just don’t give it a lot of air time….which is not a huge deal, I don’t listen to that much new music from any of the Heroes…I guess the newest stuff I play quite often is Jeff Beck’s “techno trilogy”, simply fantastic! But regarding Robert’s material, I usually don’t go beyond DreamLand album. Loved the John Paul Jones Zooma and Thunderthief so much, would love to see him revist that material live. Ok, thanks again for all the work, Cheers!

  • Larry said:

    Thanks as always Dave.

    It would be great if Mark Lewisohn would also bring his Beatles show to the USA. Obviously there are plenty of Fabs diehards on this side of the pond, my guess is he would do well here with that.

    Bonzo forever!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Dave

  • VHP said:


    Hearing about John’s death is something I will never forget. I remember seeing it on the newspaper bill boards as I traveled home on the bus.

    I will have a look at Uncut magazine. Good to hear that Jimmy is still playing guitar, but disappointed to read that as promised in January there is once again nothing new from him musically being released this year.

    New music next year, I am sorry but that comment is just way too familiar rom Jimmy.

    People knock Robert, but hey, how many tours and new music has he done since the O2 gig?

    Anyway Dave, keep up the good work.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Great stuff there Rick!

  • Rich Farquhar said:


    Always love seeing you in UK record stores proudly displaying your rare finds! If you are ever in Atlanta, Georgia I suggest the following (locally-owned and operated) stores:
    Wuxtry – the original is in Athens, GA where REM met and worked. Was just there this past Saturday
    Decatur CD
    Wax n Facts

    There are others but those would be a good place to start.

    A great day is spent shopping for music.

    Thank you for everything-Zeppelin.

    All the best,

  • Kevin ellacott said:

    Nice article on remembering John bonham. Travelled up to Birmingham on Tuesday for the black sabbath exhibition, travelled back via cutnall green and rushock today, pay my respects to J H Bonham and left flowers and comment in the church book.

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