Phil Collins’ opinion on Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham

John Bonham, who was born in 1948 in Redditch, Worcestershire, England, went on to become a legendary drummer for Led Zeppelin, one of the greatest bands ever. The drummer, who sadly passed away in 1980 at the age of 32, is still regarded as a major inspiration by heavy metal and hard rock drummers worldwide and was essential to his band’s success. Many of his colleagues, including Genesis drummer and singer Phil Collins, have discussed his work and style throughout the years.

What is Phil Collins’ opinion on Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham?

As Phil Collins recounted in a 2016 radio interview with BBC 6 Radio, he was fortunate enough to encounter John Bonham before he was in Led Zeppelin. During his discussion of his top five drummers, the artist mentioned Bonham.

“I saw John Bonham play at the Marquee Club with Tim Rose who was a American singer. He did this hit version of ‘Morning Dew’ and he was on tour and had this guy John Bonham on drums. I went to see Tim Rose. But when I saw Bonham I had never seen anything like it.”

Phil said, “He had the best bass drum of anybody I’ve ever seen. I became a convert there. So I started to follow him wherever he was doing rude to be playing in a band. Next time I saw him was with Led Zeppelin, when they were still called The New Yardbirds. The early Led Zeppelin was something to behold because nobody was doing that.”

John Bonham was angry once because he lost a drummer’s poll to Phil Collins

In an oddly remembered interview with Steve Newton from 2010, Jason Bonham, the late John Bonham’s drummer son, mentioned that his father had once become upset after losing a drummer’s vote in Melody Maker magazine for Phil Collins.

Jason Bonham stated in the interview that he doesn’t recall learning many drum lessons from his father, who passed away when he was just 14 years old. But he does recall that John forced Jason to sing along to the Genesis song “Turn It on Again” just before his father passed away.

Jason Bonham recalled his father and said, “I think Phil Collins had just beaten him in the Melody Maker drummer’s poll. He came in and said, ‘Play this.’ (So) I went over it a few times. Then he said, ‘Yep, okay, that’s cool.’ I think it was probably his way of going, ‘Hey, what’s the big deal about that guy? My son can play that!’”

Phil Collins once played Led Zeppelin remaining members but Jimmy Page wasn’t happy with his drumming

Following John Bonham’s untimely death in 1980, Led Zeppelin came to an end. However, the band’s surviving members, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones, got back together for Live Aid in 1985 for a worthy cause. Phil Collins, the drummer and singer of Genesis, was brought in to perform the Zeppelin classics at the benefit event. The songs “Rock and Roll,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Stairway To Heaven” were played.

But as guitarist Jimmy Page disclosed in a 2021 interview with The Times, he wasn’t pleased with how Phil Collins played the drums. He said, “(It was) not very clever (To reunite and have Phil Collins). “The drummer couldn’t get the beginning of ‘Rock and Roll’. So we were in real trouble with that.”

What Collins said about that Live Aid concert with Led Zeppelin

In 2020, Phil Collins talked about that occasion in a Classic Rock interview. The musician said that while he was contributing to Zeppelin’s participation in Live Aid, he was also performing on Robert Plant’s solo releases.

He remarked, “By the time I got there, me and Robert and Jimmy playing together had become The Second Coming Of Led Zeppelin. John Paul Jones was there too. Jimmy says: ‘We need to rehearse.’ And I said: ‘Can’t we just go on stage and have a play?'”

Collins said, “So I didn’t rehearse when I got there. But I listened to Stairway To Heaven on Concorde. I arrived and went to the caravans, and Robert said: ‘Jimmy Page is belligerent.’ Page says: ‘We’ve been rehearsing!’ And I said: ‘I saw your first gig in London, I know the stuff!’ He says: ‘Alright, how does it go, then?’”

“So I sort of… [mimes the Stairway To Heaven drum part], and Page says: ‘No, it doesn’t! It doesn’t go like that!’ So I had a word with [co-drummer] Tony Thompson. Cos I’ve played as two drummers a lot and it can be a train wreck. I say: ‘Let’s stay out of each other’s way and play simple.’

“Thompson, rest his soul, had rehearsed for a week, and I’m about to steal his thunder – the famous drummer’s arrived! – and he kind of did what he wanted to do. Robert wasn’t match-fit. And if I could have walked off, I would have done. Cos I wasn’t needed and I felt like a spare part.”


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