Moby Dick: Bonham’s 1970 Drum Solo Will Make You Feel Inept

John Bonham and Moby Dick
We’re not sure what this thing is.

Today we’re taking a look at John Bonham’s performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969. As part of his self-indulgent, but usually brilliant, Moby Dick drum solos, Bonham proceeded to show the world why he was one of the best drummers on the planet.

Whilst many Led Zeppelin fans refuse to accept any drummer can be near Bonham’s level—which we don’t agree with—there’s no denying Bonham was a genius of the highest order. And that’s why we’re including one of his finest moments right here, right now. 

“John Henry Bonham… Moby Dick!”

Bonham’s solos (especially post-1970) could range from a crushingly dull 30 minutes to a more acceptable 15. We have the latter here, in a blistering performance of power and outright virtuosity.

With jazzy fills mixed alongside outbursts of thunderous might, Mr. Bonham mixes innovative chops alongside concepts inspired by the likes of Buddy Rich (notably the ability to under and overpass limbs at high-speed).

If you can’t be bothered watching the full clip, for the best bits skip to:

  • 9 minutes 30 seconds for the beginning of the onslaught.
  • 13 minutes and 50 seconds for the whirlwind of death.

For the record, Bonham’s one of our favourite drummers. He was amazing (he died in 1980 aged 32). However, even though he usually tops Best Drummers Ever lists, we make the claim others are as good—if not better.

Jaki Liebezeit of Can springs to mind, with his remarkable and distinctive drumming gracing three landmark albums.

But we must also consider The Stone Roses’ Reni (take a listen to Daybreak or the Love Spreads isolated drums track). It’s a natural step above what Bonham achieved during his seminal career. At least in our opinion.

Regardless, here’s celebrating Bonham’s genius and his contributions to the world of percussion.

His son, Jason Bonham, continues on his father’s path and still tours with his version of the Led Zeppelin experience.

A good drummer in his own right, he joined the real band on its one-off reformation in 2007 in London. A fine effort he did, too.

But, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll see this again now the others are into their 70s.


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