Why Stewart Copeland Didn’t Like John Bonham’s Drumming and Robert’s Voice
via WIRED / Youtube
Not known for holding back his opinions, Stewart Copeland, the former drummer of the iconic trio The Police, openly expressed some strong views in 2018.
At that time, Copeland faced initial difficulty in embracing the musical artistry of hard rock titans Led Zeppelin, primarily attributing his reluctance to Robert Plant’s distinctive singing style.
However, in 2019, Copeland made a revelation that he had encountered John Bonham shortly before the latter’s demise, though he had no recollection of the encounter. Additionally, Copeland didn’t mince words when he remarked that Bonham was not a particularly enjoyable company.
It took Copeland some time to recognize how monstrous Bonham was
In a candid interview with Ultimate Guitar in 2018, Copeland revealed that his appreciation for Led Zeppelin’s music didn’t happen instantly due to his initial aversion to Plant’s singing style.
Copeland admitted that, at the time, he was more inclined towards drummers like Mitch Mitchell and Ginger Baker, and John Bonham’s talent didn’t capture his attention until much later. He expressed his sentiments, saying:
“I wasn’t a Bonham guy either until years later. I was a Mitch (Mitchell) guy and a Ginger (Baker) guy. Bonham I didn’t get. I didn’t notice him because the singing put me off. So I couldn’t take Led Zeppelin seriously because of that singing. I never even got as far as checking out the drums. But later on, I came to realize what a monster he was.”
Copeland’s retrospective acknowledgment of Bonham’s drumming prowess highlighted the evolution of his musical tastes and the eventual recognition of the legendary drummer’s impact on the world of music.
Copeland didn’t remember meeting Bonham
In a 2019 interview with BBC Radio 4, Copeland disclosed an intriguing revelation regarding his purported encounter with John Bonham, as recounted by Bonham’s son, Jason.
Despite Jason Bonham insisting that Copeland had met his father, the former Police drummer expressed genuine surprise at the absence of any recollection of the meeting.
Copeland conveyed his bewilderment, stating, “His son Jason (Bonham) says we met, but how can I not remember meeting John Bonham for Christ’s sake? So I don’t have a memory of meeting him.”
“Although I’m told that we met, how is this possible? Because it was before, he was him and I was just a little old me at the time. It’s hard to imagine,” the Police drummer shared, expressing how Bonham was already too famous at the time for him to not remember.
“How does he do that?”
Continuing the discussion on Bonzo, Copeland touched on the drummer’s personality, characterizing him as a challenging individual to interact with personally.
Despite Bonham not being renowned for his amiable demeanor, Copeland couldn’t help but marvel at the sheer enormity of Bonham’s drumming prowess.
The drummer remarked on his fellow legendary drummer, “He was not known to be wonderful company as a human being. But dang, drummers argued long into the night about how did he get that monstrous sound. The size of it, not just what he plays but how he plays it.”
“It’s like he is playing on a mountain, the earth shakes when he hits those tom-toms. How does he do that? We are all scratching our heads about that,” an amazed Copeland commented.
Legend recognizing legend
Despite only recognizing Bonham’s drumming prowess later in his musical journey, Copeland acknowledges the profound influence that Bonham had on him.
In a 2022 interview with Farout Magazine, when questioned about the fairness of comparing himself to Bonham, Copeland responded, “I find myself more inspired by him now than I was during my formative years.”
Reflecting on the drummers who initially left an imprint on him, the drummer of The Police explained, “It was all Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell then, and Bonham came later.”
The evolution of Copeland’s musical appreciation illustrates that, even as the original drummer of one the most influential 80s bands, one can continue to discover and be inspired by the talents of fellow musicians.