Bonzo’s birthday

by Spencer Doar

Today is not just any Friday; it’s also the birthday of John Bonham, the legendary drummer for Led Zeppelin.  He occupies an exalted position in the drumming world—an untouchable whose legacy is distorted by its own, earned hubris.  It wasn’t until I began to play the drums that I gained real appreciation for what Bonham could do on a drum set.  (Example, really kicks off at 1:20).  To the unaccustomed ear, his solos can be a muddle of frantic thrashing, but the skill, power and sense of anticipation that accompanies his drumming will always reveal itself.

Only Keith Moon of The Who rivals Bonham in my mind, but Moon’s legend is aided by his absolute insanity (see his penchant for blowing up toilets and all-around destructive behavior).  That is not to say that Bonham wasn’t a crazy rock star, I mean, he died at 32 (coincidentally the same age as Moon) from asphyxiating on his vomit after some 40 shots of vodka. Anyway, pump up “When the Levee Breaks,” and absorb how good, yet simple, Bonham could be.