John Bonham’s son picks his father’s finest moment: “It’s the drum intro of the Gods”

The tumultuous 1960s witnessed a seismic shift in the landscape of rock music, particularly in the United Kingdom, where innovative groups like The Yardbirds were skillfully merging rhythm and blues nuances with the raw energy of rock and roll. The disbandment of The Yardbirds, a group that boasted the talents of Jimmy Page, laid the foundation for the birth of Led Zeppelin. With the addition of Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham, this collective would go on to etch its name as one of the most triumphant in the annals of musical history.

John Bonham, a prodigious drummer who had embarked on his musical journey as a child, garnered acclaim for his unparalleled skills, infusing each track with meticulously crafted beats. His ability to seamlessly navigate through various drumming styles earned him accolades, and as Dave Grohl aptly observed, “He really knew how to put down a groove.”

Grohl expounded on this sentiment, emphasizing the art of maintaining a groove over gratuitous fills: “I’ve learned that keeping the groove is more impressive than playing a hundred fills every 4 bars. John Bonham played drums hard but kept the groove.”

Bonham’s percussive mastery featured prominently on every Led Zeppelin release, some of which are regarded as pivotal moments in the evolution of hard rock. While the band was hesitant to embrace the heavy metal label, their musical influence undeniably paved the way for numerous metal outfits that emerged in the wake of their popularity.

Regardless of one’s affinity for Led Zeppelin, the undeniable truth remains that Bonham was a virtuoso drummer. Among his myriad of impressive drum solos, fills, and grooves, one of the most revered takes place in ‘When The Levee Breaks.’ This iconic track, originally penned in 1929 by Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy, transformed in 1971 when Led Zeppelin infused it with their distinctive style on the fourth album, Led Zeppelin IV.

Jason Bonham, John Bonham’s son, who has stepped into his father’s drumming shoes during Led Zeppelin reunion shows, singled out the intro of ‘When The Levee Breaks’ as his father’s magnum opus. In an interview with Q Magazine, he expressed, “It’s the drum intro of the Gods. You could play it anywhere, and people would know it’s John Bonham. I never had the chance to tell Dad how amazing he was – he was just dad.”

The indelible drums from ‘When The Levee Breaks’ have transcended generations and genres, finding resonance in the works of modern artists. Beyoncé and Jack White sampled them in ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ from the groundbreaking album Lemonade. Dr. Dre incorporated the beats into ‘Lyrical Gangbang,’ Massive Attack added them to ‘Man Next Door’ on Mezzanine, and The Beastie Boys weaved Bonham’s rhythms into ‘Rymin’ And Stealin’. This iconic drum sound stands as one of the most sampled in the rich tapestry of music history.

Explore the timeless rhythms of ‘When The Levee Breaks’ once more.

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