John Bonham: a “cheeky little bastard” as Ginger Baker says

John Bonham: a “cheeky little bastard” as Ginger Baker says

Surely John “Bonzo” Bonham he is considered one of the greatest drummers of all time in the history of rock 'n' roll.

His impetuous personal style and his technical ability contributed to clearly defining the sound universe of Led Zeppelin starting from the end of the '60s and throughout the '70s, before his premature death in 1980.

Like most greats, Bonham was largely self-taught, but his natural talent helped him become one of the most influential drummers of his generation.

Bonham's approach to drumming was characterized by a combination of explosive power, precision and the ability for very fast rhythmic variations.

He shared the stage with the frontman and singer Robert Plantwho always positioned himself in front of him while taking a seat on his left Jimmy Page, one of the greatest guitarists of all time. The rhythm section was completed by a quiet, but excellent, bass player (and if necessary keyboardist) John Paul Jones (in sixth place in the limited top ten bass players of all time drawn up by Rolling Stone).

However, “Bonzo” is not the only one in the Olympus of drummers and so, beyond personal tastes, when different people are asked to name the best on the instrument of all time, the answers are not univocal and there will also be who pushes himself into the field of jazz citing Buddy Rich.

However, it is difficult to compare the complex technical skill of jazz drummers with the often more muscular and powerful approach of rock.

Thus, narrowing the field to the universe of rock and asking its drummers, we obtain a triad composed of Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker And John Bonham.

In 2018 regarding the question of the best behind the drums, Stewart Copeland by the Police and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, two drummers who are “not bad” have agreed that Mitchellthe drummer of Jimi Hendrixwas the best of all time.

“Well, that's the paradox,” Copeland declared in 2018 when questioned about the question of the greatest. “This monument of drumming was Jimi Hendrix's drummer!… Or rather: Jimi was Mitch's guitarist.” , Copeland said.

Copeland and Nick Maison then agreed on a seeing hierarchy Ginger Baker of the Cream (band whose guitar was played by someone Eric Clapton) in second place. In a subsequent 2022 interview Copeland was further asked what Bonham's impact was.

In response, he cited the holy trinity of rock drummers. “I'm more inspired by him now than I was as a kid,” the former Policeman said. “At the time there were only Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell, while Bonham it came later. The first one I liked her style and how Ginger used her tom-toms a lot, while Mitch Mitchell was probably the most inspiring of all.”

Unfortunately, these three legendary drummers are no longer with us and wherever they are we hope an impartial ranking has been drawn up… as far as it goes.

However, we know what (especially) Ginger Baker and John Bonham thought about it. In his memoir, “Hellraiser: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest Drummer,” Baker recalled that Bonham felt he shared the position on the drum throne. With a high level of self-esteem, evidenced right from the title of her autobiography, Ginger Becker wrote: “John Bonham once made a statement that there were only two drummers in British rock 'n' roll: him and Ginger Baker My reaction was, 'You cheeky little bastard!'”