I actually didn't like Led Zep when they first came out. They only grew on me because growing up in Brooklyn in the late 60's early 70's my cousin played the damn album every single morning while we got ready for school...."How many more tiii-iiimes......beat meeee...the wayyy you pleeee-ase!" :-) (How many more times did I want to throw that record out into the street!)...UGH!
I was so into Hendrix and Mitchell that Zep just wasn't even close to being in the same league. Mitchell is THE one that made me want to start playing drums in the first place, (later in '71 I got to record in Jimi's Electric Lady Studios with my NYC original rock band...what a trip!...alas Jimi had already stepped on out across his rainbow bridge)...when I heard Mitch's drumming on "FIRE" that was it for me...I was hooked....hook, line, and sinker....and today I still rate my TOP favorite drummers as Rich, Mitchell, Paice, and Cobham. Compared to these three? Bonham doesn't even come close, can't hold a candle to 'em. To be fair to him, he did fit the music and he's a household name, just like a thousand other guys, but the best drummer ever? The best soloist ever? Methinks not.
Guys back in the 30's and 40's were doing triplets and cross-overs in their sleep. JB had nice 16th foot work, but that was the only technique I saw that was the slightest bit different or stood him out from any of the other contemporaries of the time. He certainly had no 'godly knowledge' of the rudiments fer' cryin' out loud. And let me tell you, those early cats knew their rudiments upside down, sideways, and any other way you can think of.
The bottom line is this. His engineer did a hell of a recording job and THAT'S who deserves the credit for JB's 'BIG' sound. A good sound engineer is worth his weight in gold, an excellent one is priceless....and most of you know you can take THAT to the bank. ESPECIALLY when it comes to drum recording and live stage mix.
Paige probably had a lot to do with a LOT of what Bonzo could get away with recording-wise, and conversely, not get away with. Like I could imagine that JB tried to wrest his acrylics into the studio one day and Jimmy stopped him cold with "Not on me' watch. mate! 'Yer not bringing those bloody plastic tree planters in this studio...you use the bloomin' Maple's!
If any of you have ever watched their 1973 performances at Madison Square Garden, ("The Song Remains The Same" released in 1976) you KNOW they made a shambles out of that concert, horrible, horrible, abysmally horrific! All the songs were mish-mashed, half the band didn't know what the hell was going on, Bonzo's vistalites sounded crappy...as vistalites are wont to do......and I thought to myself...."THIS? This is the best Rock n' Roll band in the world? This is absolutely the worst thing I have ever heard in my life..."...and I had to turn the video off. When I read that they had gotten swindled out of $203,000.00 I thought "Somebody's not happy!" LOL " Shyster promoters got some of their money back probably...."
Bonham purveyed the idea that bigger is better, hence the "iconic" 14 X 26 Luddy. Big deal. Hell, most of the early cats cut their teeth on 14 X 28's....grew up on 'em.....like Chick Webb in the 20's and 30's. Little guy, suffered with tuberculosis of the spine from childhood, short stature, distorted spine, lived with it all his life, drummed with it all his life, led his band while suffering from it, and finally died a young man of 34!
"In 1931 Buddy Rich cited Webb's powerful technique and virtuoso performances as heavily influential on his own drumming, and even referred to Webb as "the daddy of them all".
"Art Blakey and Duke Ellington both credit Webb with influencing their music. Krupa credited Webb with raising drummer awareness and paving the way for drummer-led bands, which Krupa would later employ. His thundering solos created a complexity and an energy that paved the way for Buddy Rich (who studied Webb intensely) and Louie Bellson..."
Don't just take my word on it, read the history for yourself on the Wik link I posted down below.
Talk about an Unsung Hero....Go figure!
Now my generation of drummers, guys like Paice, Powell, Shrieve...all of Zappa's drummers...they had their own thing going on that trumped JHB pretty effortlessly, and the truly greats like drummers/bandleaders/players like Webb, Bellson, Krupa, Rich, Williams and a veritable host of others et al? THEY were the true mentors.
I do love my '70's Slingerland deep cob snare and 1930 Slingerland 16 X 32 bass drum though! JB just used a measly 26" lol
Now when you think on it, the 30's drummers learned from the 20's drummers, the 40's drummers learned from the 30's drummers, and neck bone's connected to the shoulder bone, ...and so on and so forth, so that by the time the 60's and 70's rolled around, we (my generation) had learned from ALL those guys, then on into the 70's 80's and now here in 2010, what a plethora of knowledge this current generation of drummers has garnered...and how about in the next 50 years? It's only been 100+ years since the first drum sets were cobbled together after evolving from drum corps, marching drum techniques (Traditional grip like I play to the now-vaunted matched grip), the evolution of marching rudiments to drum kit exploitation, the vision and construction of first true drum kits and on and on and on et exhaustem infinitum....so no wonder there are so many excellent drummers out there, from every nation and every tribe!
We are the elite, we are a fraternity like no other. The guitarists can have their amps on 11, the bassists can boast more bottom (No pun intended...well maybe a wee bit), and the keyboardists can have their ivories tickled...but who ALLOWS them to play? Who mesmerizes them, and amazes them, and boosts them to their highest potential, ladies and gentlemen?
"Ladies and Gentlemen! The inimitable Mr. CHICK WEBB!!!"
Edited for Bonzo typo