John Bonham’s all-time favourite drummer

The world of rock drumming was altered by the late John Bonham, the drummer for Led Zeppelin. When the band made its breakthrough in the late 1960s, Bonham, who had a strong technical skill and a jazz background combined with a hard rock edge, revolutionized the drumming world. He was a master of the off-beat, bass drum, and triplets. Many later rhythmic pioneers would not have had their fundamental effect without his efforts, which included compositions in various styles.

Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant reportedly related a story about how Bonham’s thunder completely overwhelmed Jimi Hendrix, who was undoubtedly the most innovative guitarist of his day. This story demonstrated how obvious Bonham’s talent was to everyone. As compiled in A Thunder of Drums, the American told Plant: “That drummer of yours has a right foot like a pair of castanets!”.

Neil Peart, the drummer for Rush, is a legend who was profoundly influenced by Bonham’s work and is largely considered one of the greatest drummers of all time. He even listed one of his all-time favorites as the Led Zeppelin man. He stated in the 2005 motion film Anatomy of a Drum Solo:

“When I was starting out, very young, John Bonham and Led Zeppelin were new in those olden days. John Bonham did always the big triplets with his giant bass drum. I had two little bass drums at the time. So I just added those in. (I also) had kind of four-beat triplets as my variation on it. So then over the years I found many ways to develop that. Also to apply it to songs outside of the solo.”

The legendary Bonham “Moby Dick” solo is so good, Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain said to Louder Sound in 2020. “John’s style was cutting edge. John was the pioneer of the fast right foot, where he put a lot of doubles and played around with triplets on his bass drum and he does that a lot through Moby Dick. What astounded me was the speed and the way he would group the triplet around with the four-note group on the top of it.”

Given how skillful Bonham’s approach was, it seems sense that he studied under some of the best in his field. Consequently, it has long been necessary to provide an answer to the topic of who his all-time favorite drummer was, especially in light of his passing in 1980. Though he never provided a conventionally conclusive response, Bonham’s assessment of jazz drummer and bandleader Gene Krupa as “God” paints a clear picture of his mentality.

One of the first drum pioneers was Krupa, as legendary musician Neil Peart once said: “Gene Krupa was the first rock drummer in very many ways. Without Gene Krupa, there wouldn’t have been a Keith Moon.”John Bonham also would not have existed.

Renowned for his exuberant approach and captivating stage presence, the percussionist greatly inspired a young Bonham with his unique technique. The Led Zeppelin star was heavily impacted by the 1956 movie The Benny Goodman Story, which presented Krupa as the title king of swing, as his brother Michael noted on Bonham’s website. Michael stated, “John went to see the film with his dad” and that for the budding musician, “Gene Krupa was God.”

According to reports, Bonham also had a deep affection for another iconic Krupa film, Beat The Band, in which the Chicagoan performs on a set of steam pipes—a boundary-pushing performance given the very 1947 setting—a musical. Although there isn’t much more information available on Bonham’s affection for Krupa, all the evidence points to the American being the Led Zeppelin hero’s all-time favorite.

Watch the legendary drum duel between Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa below.


Leave a Comment