John Bonham’s Isolated Drum Track For Led Zeppelin’s ‘Fool in the Rain’

His playing was as loud as thunder and as fast as lightning. John Bonham of Led Zeppelin was arguably the greatest of rock-and-roll drummers. When Rolling Stone asked its readers in 2011 to name the greatest drummer of all time, Bonham won by a landslide. Drummerworld says of his playing:

Imitators are usually left frustrated, since Bonham made it look so easy–not only in his playing but also in the incredible drum sound he achieved. His legendary right foot (on his bass pedal) and lightning-fast triplets were his instant trademark. He later refined his style from the hard skin-bashing approach to a more delicate wrist-controlled one–which produced an even more powerful and louder sound with less effort.

Bonham’s later playing is on display in this isolated drum track (above) from “Fool in the Rain,” a single from the 1979 album In Through the Out Door, the last album released by Zeppelin before Bonham’s death in 1980. The recording above includes about one-third of the entire drum track, ending just before the samba-style breakdown in the middle. Bonham is playing a variant of the half-time Purdie Shuffle, a pattern developed by the legendary session drummer Bernard Purdie, who began playing it when he was a youngster trying to imitate the dynamics of a train. “The way a locomotive kind of pushes and pulls,” Purdie said in a 2011 MusicRadar interview, “that’s what I was feeling.”

Variations of the Purdie Shuffle can be heard across popular music. Purdie himself played it on Steely Dan’s “Home at Last.” More recently, Death Cab for Cutie’s Jason McGerr played it on “Grapevine Fires.” Perhaps the most famous variation is the so-called “Rosanna Shuffle” played by the late Jeff Porcaro of Toto on the single “Rosanna,” which blended elements of Purdie’s original shuffle, Bonham’s “Fool in the Rain” pattern and the Bo Diddley Beat.

For more on Bernard Purdie and his trademark shuffle, see the 2009 video below from the New York Times. In the accompanying article, David Segal writes: “Created with six bass, high-hat and snare tones, the Purdie Shuffle is a groove that seems to spin in concentric circles as it lopes forward. The result is a Tilt-a-Whirl of sound, and if you can listen without shaking your hips, you should probably see a doctor.”

via That Eric Alper

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by | Permalink | Comments (9) |

  • Terry

    Bonham is pretty good. But I think if you check out Neil Peart (Rush), you might be more impressed. Just my opinion…

  • Tim Mason

    Drummers? Here’s Chris Cutler http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfmyiVViOo0 … and the interviewer is wonderfully rock.

  • Jeff

    Neil Pert is good but no one can match Bonzo best rhythm duo in history Bonham and John Paul Jones

  • Mike P

    You can argue back and forth between Bonzo and Neil….two completely different styles, but both the best.

  • Mike T

    Nobody in the history of rock music (drummers) has had the whole package like Bonham did. He had the perfect SOUND, feel, groove, chops, right foot, finese and power-all in one. And the most important thing, unlike Peart-is that he realized that sometimes, less = more.

  • George

    Better/best drummer debates get stale fast. Stick with your personal favorites and don’t try to crown a champion. I like a lot of drummers. If yer gettin paid or gettin laid, you are good enough.

  • Paul Maselli

    Let’s hear the rest of that track! :-) Some good stuff was coming!

  • Roger Johnstone

    I’ve always enjoyed listening to John Bonham and I also always enjoy listening to Carl Palmer….I just reckon (as a non muso) that no matter how good the front end of a band is, they’ve gotta have a quick thinking/acting drummer to make it all come together. Long live a greatly timed beat and melody.

  • Marc Brassé

    I gues the strength of this rhythm is that it actaully puts most of its energy outside of the normal 4 to the floor accents. It’s very elaborate but if you take everyhting away that is not straight on the beat not much is left. Try it. Just count to four and see how much still gets past your counting.

    Concerning the original Bonham recording: Of all places it was done in the now sadly defunct Polar studio’s of Abba Fame in Stockholm Sweden. Genesis also recorded there (Duke). I love the sound of that room!

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