If you were to ask any drummer who their biggest influence was, chances are they will tell you it’s John Bonham. He was the Led Zeppelin drummer and is well known as one of the best drummers of all time.
His style has influenced so many other drummers. He played with such ferocity and precision on his drums that you can’t help but be blown away by it all. His death at a young age was a tragedy, but he left us with so many amazing beats that we can still hear today.
If you haven’t listened to any Led Zeppelin songs before, we highly recommend starting with their song “When The Levee Breaks” because it features some incredible drumming from Mr. Bonham himself.
What happened to the drummer of Led Zeppelin?
John Henry “Bonzo” Bonham died in 1980 from asphyxiation after choking on his own vomit after a day of drinking. He was only 32 years old. This led to the immediate breakup of Led Zeppelin.
Did Led Zeppelin have 2 drummers?
For a long time, NO, but they did some shows with Jason Bonham in recent years, who is John Bonham’s son. He does an incredible job filling in for his father.
Led Zeppelin never wanted to find a replacement for John. They stated that they couldn’t ever recreate the magic of four of them playing together.
Robert Plant once said, “if you took Bonzo’s drumming away, the band would sound useless.”
Although they were not disbanded officially, they stopped playing in 1980. They said, “We could not continue as we were.”
What killed John Bonham?
John Bonham died in 1980.
How old was John bonham when he died?
He was 32 years old.
Over 30 years ago, many people don’t remember how this happened on September 25th, 1980.
He got up to go to the toilet on his own around midnight, leading to him being found dead at 1:45 am.
The cause of death was said to be asphyxiation after choking on his vomit due to excess alcohol consumption. He was 32-years old when he died.
What was John Bonham’s blood alcohol level when he died?
The morning of September 25th, 1977, was a shocking day for Led Zeppelin. Road manager Ben Lefevre tried to wake drummer Bonham but failed to notice something wrong with his pulse.
A sample taken from The Countryside Drinker’s Bladder showed alcohol levels 276 mg/100 mL or 27+ right square under UK law- not too high considering how many beers he chugged while warming up before showtime…
Pathologist Dr. Edmund Hemstead reported that John died of inhalation after vomiting but didn’t die immediately due to that, and it’s possible his death was hours later.
John Bohnam’s legacy
John Bonham’s death shadowed his drumming and how influential he was, but the drumming community lost one of the best.
Let’s take a step back and mention what was John is known for and some of his drumming licks that still live.
As a drummer, John was most famous for his triplet combinations. Here is a sticking example:
- R L F – L R F
- F R L – F L R
- R F L – L F R
F – foot
R – right hand
L – left hand
Notable songs Led Zeppelin drummer played in:
- Black Dog
- The Ocean
- Whole Lotta Love
- Immigrant Song
- When the levee breaks
His most famous lick is in the songs
- Fool in the rain
- Good times bad times
- Rock and roll
Check out Brian Tichy lesson on Bonham’s licks:
John Bonham’s style
One of the most distinctive things next to Bonham’s famous triplets is his unique sound.
He had a unique approach to tunning, and he always used the same combinations of drums and drum heads along with Paiste cymbals that provide old-school sound.
We musk acknowledge that it’s not all about equipment, and that sound comes from the hand, so here’s his son Jason explains how Bonham hold the sticks:
We have a full article, 10 Ways to Sound Like John Bonham, so make sure to check it out.
Why is John Bonham considered the best drummer?
This question can be heard a lot from young drummers entering the drumming world and hearing names like John Bonham for the first time.
When you are young and inexperienced, it’s is very hard to figure out what makes some drummers great and why is he different from others.
When it comes to being unique, the sound is always first on the list.
What shapes the drummer’s sound:
- hand technique (the way you hold the stick, the way and angle of how you hit the drum, how hard you hit the drum, how relaxed you are while hitting the drum, etc.)
- equipment (sticks, drums, cymbals, microphones, etc.)
- engineering (setting up the microphones)
- drum tunning
So, if we take all these factors under consideration, it’s honest to say that John was unique in every single way. Doing all these things in his own way helped shape his “signature sound.”
Here is a cool video about John Bonham’s sound
Did John Bonham have a son?
Yes, Jason Bonham.
When the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Concert aired on TV in 1988, Jason took his father’s spot and performed with Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones.
Jason teamed up with greats like Paul Rodgers, Slash, David Gilmour to work on a Tribute album for Muddy Waters. The record’s success brought an Academy Award nomination!
Jason was proud to represent his dad when Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Jason had the chance to play drums for one of music’s most iconic bands, Led Zeppelin. On December 10th, 2007, he got his dream and played in front of a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 arena with surviving members Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant.
In addition to being an amazing performance, it also helped Jason get closer friendships as well.
Is Led Zeppelin still alive?
Led Zeppelin is one of the best-selling music artists ever, with record sales estimated at between 200 and 300 million units worldwide.
The band is live commercially but are they touring? No.
Their last performance was in the sold-out O2 Arena in London captured in a concert film called “Celebration Day.”
The next big thing we can expect from the band is the documentary celebrating its 50th anniversary.