Individually, the band members of Led Zeppelin can have valid claim that they’re a league of their own. They wouldn’t be where they are if it weren’t for the oozing talent coming out from each one of them. Take John Bonham, for example. Every song has a stellar drum part by Bonzo. He’s a beast behind the kit. And to pick only five of his greatest solos is so tough, mind you. But well, we’re up for the challenge.
If there’s one word that comes to mind, it’s “POWER” in big, bold letters. It’s thrilling to say the least and there’s a touch of unpredictability mostly because of the funk-like groove he lends to the song. His wide and foreboding drum fills perfectly complement Jimmy Page’s guitar playing as his riffs and licks cut through. Bonzo hits it hard, like he’s about to deliver some bone-crunching punches. It swells until it just breaks over the surface. It’s insane how good it sounds, how Bonzo’s perfectly timed beat is all you need to bathe in the glory of his stellar drumming. The title of the track refers to the ‘ocean’ of fans the band sees when they’re on stage. And it’s just fitting because as a listener, it feels like you’re being hit by waves of beats, fills, riffs and licks which are nothing short of perfect. It’s that awesome.
That sizzling cymbal work is something else – like a signal that’s telling you something’s about to blow up. It’s Bonzo’s tour de force, it’s crazy how precise he is with his playing. And he raises the bar for all the other drummers out there. He had it all – finesse and power but he can be delicate once it was needed. His unique style is totally unmatched and with that speed and accuracy, it’s hard not to be amazed every single time he plays. He always seems as if he’s doing a million things all at once and his drum solos are all mind-blowing. It’s as if this guy has never played one off-beat note in his entire life. To him, it was never just how fast you can play, it was more than that. His musicality is off-the-charts and he always shines like the drum god that he is. Need proof? Listen to this song.
Bonzo’s the best at what he did. And if we need any more evidence that he’s not from this world, just take this song for instance. He’s on fire with his powerful and hyperactive pounding. But that’s not all. It may sound like a double-kick drum beat but Bonzo found a way to pull off the sound using his right foot alone. If that isn’t a superhuman ability, we don’t know what is. From the moment you hear the dramatic two-beat opening, you know it’s going to be really good. His explosive energy is almost palpable and those unbelievable beats and solos are insane. He’s on a different level and you can tell how much power he puts into each song. If you were lucky enough to have seen him during their concerts, you could almost see his sweat coming off his body. The man always gave it his 100% and boy, we’re never disappointed.
At one time during their concert, “Moby Dick” was extended to 30 minutes and Bonzo was already hitting the drums with bloodied bare hands. Now that’s dedication. Imagine how much endurance you need to nail it after half an hour of banging and pounding – and he did it without so much as a single mistake. The solo is perhaps one of the finest pieces in Bonzo’s entire career which is often regarded as THE greatest in rock ‘n roll history. He bangs his way into absolute percussion perfection. You know what’s ironic? Timing oozed from him and yet each time you listen to his drumming, it’s as if time stands still. This guy has influenced the next generation of top-class drummers. Well, that speaks volumes on how massive his talent is. His playing is powerful yet subtle. Anyone who has watched him live will agree that he plays like thunder and lightning. John Bonham has no equal, that’s a fact.
The secret behind this masterpiece is by having Bonzo play his part on a three-story stairwell and placing the microphones at the topmost level of the stairs. This made the space conducive to echoes. And what did they manage to create? A muffling and echoing sound. It’s like listening to a hypnotic groove with the drum blows so powerful, it’s jaw-dropping. No one can keep a beat like him, some may come close but that’s all they’ll ever get. This is a drummer so good, he is practically unrivaled. He just works a different kind of magic. How many drummers can still put a spell over us with just one song (something that we’ve already put on repeat more than a dozen times)? He plays complicated fills and solos. Bonzo has surely accomplished some of the greatest sounds you can ever hear on a drum kit. If you’re looking for anything that showcases his skills, all you have to do is plug in ANY Led Zeppelin song. Somehow, he’s managed to add his own magic to each of those tracks.