John Bonham

English drummer (1948–1980) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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John Henry Bonham (31 May 1948 – 25 September 1980) was an English musician who was the drummer of the rock band Led Zeppelin. Noted for his speed, power, fast single-footed kick drumming, distinctive sound, and feel for groove,[1] he is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential drummers in music history.[2][3][4]

Quick facts: John Bonham, Background information, Birth na...
John Bonham
Bonham performing with Led Zeppelin in 1973
Bonham performing with Led Zeppelin in 1973
Background information
Birth nameJohn Henry Bonham
Also known as
  • Bonzo
  • The Beast
  • Powerhouse
Born(1948-05-31)31 May 1948
Redditch, Worcestershire, England
Died25 September 1980(1980-09-25) (aged 32)
Clewer, Berkshire, England
  • Drums
  • percussion
Years active1962–1980
Formerly of

Bonham was born in 1948 in Redditch, Worcestershire, and took up drums at the age of five, receiving a snare drum at the age of 10 and a full drum set at the age of 15. He played with multiple local bands both at school and following school, eventually playing in two different bands with Robert Plant. Following the demise of the Yardbirds in 1968, Bonham joined Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bass guitarist John Paul Jones to form Led Zeppelin. With the band, Bonham mostly showcased a hard-hitting hard rock style, but also handled funk and Latin-influenced grooves in later releases. Like Keith Moon of the Who, Bonham's drum set grew in size following the band's 1969 concert tours, including congas or timpani and a gong. His drum solo "Moby Dick" was featured on the group's second album and was a staple of their concerts, often lasting over 20 minutes. Outside of Led Zeppelin, Bonham played drums for other artists, including the Family Dogg, Screaming Lord Sutch, Lulu, Jimmy Stevens and Wings. Bonham played with Led Zeppelin until his death at the age of 32, in September 1980 following a day of heavy drinking. The surviving members disbanded the group out of respect for Bonham after his death.

A mostly self-taught drummer, Bonham was influenced by Max Roach, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. He was close with Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice, who introduced him to Ludwig drums. While he was primarily known for his hard-rock style during his lifetime, his reputation as a drummer has grown beyond that genre following his death. He has influenced various drummers, with just a few prominent examples including Dave Grohl, Neil Peart, Chad Smith and Dave Lombardo. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 as a member of Led Zeppelin. In 2016, Rolling Stone named him the greatest drummer of all time.[5]