Happy Birthday John Bonham: Isolated Drums Tracks

By Andy Kahn May 31, 2021 7:00 am PDT

Founding Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham was born on this date in 1948. Bonham was just 32-years-old when accidentally died in 1980, but in his short time behind the kit, the man affectionately known as Bonzo was a driving force propelling Led Zeppelin to the forefront of rock music’s most revered bands. For Bonzo’s birthday today, here’s a closer examination of his specific contributions to a number of the band’s most well-known songs through his isolated drum tracks.

Integral parts of Zeppelin’s live and in-studio efforts, Bonham’s drum solos – notably his signature part in “Moby Dick” – are the stuff of legend. The tracks presented below are Bonzo playing solo, but not soloing, as the contributions from bandmates Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones are (mostly) muted in order to focus exclusively on the talented drumming of the band’s timekeeper.

Here’s Bonham’s isolated drum track from Zeppelin’s final album, In Through The Out Door, on the popular song “Fool In The Rain.” Listen to the 1979 recording at Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden via YouTuber David Blampied below:

“Ramble On” was featured on the band’s 1969, Led Zeppelin II, album. The drum pattern and textured derived by Bonzo on the track has been the source of much debate, with a book about the drummer purportedly stating he employed an empty guitar case and bare hands to pound out the rhythm. Give a listen to “Ramble On” via James P here:

Bonham’s dynamic ability behind the kit is thoroughly on display within his wide-ranging performance on “What Is And What Should Never Be.” His delivery touches equally on heavy and soft tones while shaping the overall feel of the song. Check out the Led Zeppelin II track again via James P:

[Originally published May 31, 2016.]

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