Originally Posted by ClockworkOrange
So many fallacies still exist about the man, it's a shame really.
Bonham never played intoxicated on any Zeppelin show, he took great pride in being the glue that held the band together, the buck stopped with him. He knew that if he was 'off' the band never stood a chance of sounding it's best...the other members of Zeppelin knew this, also. The pride also manifested itself in a 'phobia' that was stronger than his inclination to overindulge in drink to combat the feelings of guilt he would get while touring(from being away from his family) and the boredom that accompanys it, he was more afraid of having a 'bad night' and the guilt he'd feel as a result(similar to Charlie Watts in this 'perfectionist' regard), than the other guilty feelings that were drowned in drink. He had a JOB to do, and he was gonna do it to the absolute best of his ability.
He did overindulge greatly off stage, and often 'jammed' with other groups totally drunk. The comment about demolishing the drumkit applied to a drumkit that belonged to a poor unsuspecting drummer of whom, Bonham was about to jam on his kit...perhaps in a state of intoxication...as this was when the 'devil' would come out in him.
On his own drumkits, he never 'thrashed' the drums and cymbals were struck correctly. He broke very few things. When younger, he would be harsh on sticks, this changed qtuickly, however, and he rarely broke them afterwards. Heads? He had the same Emperor snare head on that 402 for three US tours. Follow the performance history from the DVD....very little bashing, if any, is evident.
I will tell you he was a master drum tuner. EVERY tension rod was tuned in perfect pitch to the others on that particular head. Tuning is a lost artform, his ears were sensitive enough to perceive any discrepancy. I believe Joe Morello has this talent, also.
He loved to sing. He often wished he was, in fact, the singer, not Plant, and loved the opportunity to put harmonies of lines in on Zep tunes, even his tune count offs were sung...we've done four already....and from the 'outtakes' of Fool, One ah, Two ah...etc . Kinda reminds one of Buddy Rich's forrays to the mic.
He was an originator of a specific new style of drumming for a newly emerged genre. It wasn't the straight ahead metal of Sabbath or the classically influenced metal of Purple, it was the 'metal' that would incorporate every other type of music from English Folk, to Blues, to Psychedelic to Middle Eastern and Indian to Country and Pop, everything into an immediately recognizable sound that could only be attributed to Zeppelin. The vehicle he would choose to draw the template from would be the R+B and Funk styles that were newly emerging from the US with selected synchopated Blues ones. The backbeat influences of these styles were coupled with the desire to shadow and mimic the rhythmic strum patterns of the Electric Guitar in the many and varied compostions and make the rhythmic 'thrust' of the music as potent, yet, unassuming, as possible....quite brilliant, really.
Through all these involvements in all these music genres, his drum sound fit perfectly. Some may complain about D'Yer Maker, BUT, if you played the typical cross sticked and accented reggae pattern that accompanies the upstroked guitar of the genre, it would have fit as appropriately as all the other compositions.
As Carl Palmer says 'He(Bonham) got it right, I got it wrong'.....though, this is a comment regarding the style of music for the American marketplace, it is just as appropriate concerning the approach to the instrument, as it was Bonham's drum style that was the underlying foundation to the compositions of Zeppelin, and indeed as witnessed by the beginning drum beats of 'Levee' or D'yer Maker or Moby Dick or Ramble On....artistry that is immediately recognizable.
For those who don't recognize this, one day the light bulb will go on and you'll understand the magic, majesty and magnificence that was John Henry Bonham.