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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

‘Stair­way to Heav­en’: Watch a Mov­ing Trib­ute to Led Zep­pelin at The Kennedy Cen­ter

Jim­my Page Tells the Sto­ry of Kash­mir

Kei­th Moon, Drum­mer of The Who, Pass­es Out at 1973 Con­cert; 19-Year-Old Fan Takes Over

The “Amen Break”: The Most Famous 6‑Second Drum Loop & How It Spawned a Sam­pling Rev­o­lu­tion

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Comments (11)
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  • Terry says:

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

  • Tim Mason says:

    Drum­mers? Here’s Chris Cut­ler … and the inter­view­er is won­der­ful­ly rock.

  • Jeff says:

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

  • Mike P says:

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

  • Mike T says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

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

  • Roger Johnstone says:

    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 says:

    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!

  • Glenn Norman says:

    This is good stuff Learnt so much from oth­er peo­ple’s com­ments you nev­er want to stop play­ing drums and you want to live long so you can keep play­ing and try new stuff every time you play is so dif­fer­ent from the last good or bad God bless John Bohnam

  • Jon Harris says:

    Sounds awful. Like a 10 yrs old bang­ing on trash cans. I’ll nev­er under­stand why peo­ple wor­ship drum­mers like Bon­ham. He was mediocre at BEST when it comes to drum­ming. I know kids who could out drum Bon­ham with one hand behind their backs. The only rea­son, and I mean the ONLY rea­son he’s so revered is because he was in Led Zep­pelin, a high­ly over­rat­ed band that real­ly only had a hand­ful of decent songs.

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