John Bonham Wasn't Playing That Hard, According to Simon Phillips

Vistalite Black

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I'm sure that's what he'd say if you pressed him about it, but his statement seems to imply that he didn't thump them tubs, which we all know he did regularly.
Actually, I think Phillips was pretty clear when he said, "The whole tone came from the fact that he wasn’t playing that hard."
 

JDA

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everyone can see Bonham playing hard when he's letting loose... Can also see him playing soft when accompanying the quiet passages..

What a certain generation of Drummers after him...took were just the Loud forceful parts....glossing over the quiet sensitive parts... maybe was what .....Simon Says.
Advocating an appropriate balanced approach.

or

when he had the 16" cymbal on the left
 
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Houndog

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Beating them senseless does give a song a different feel though ....???
 

dsop

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Man, I had no idea that Anthony Jackson had a stroke and is in assisted living. I hope he manages to recover. :sad11:
 

BennyK

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His touch had the authority to pull exactly what he was looking for out of those Ludwigs . I'm curious to know exactly why he switched to acrylic shells . More sound from less effort ? Is there an interview in which he explains this ?
 

Matched Gripper

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everyone can see Bonham playing hard when he's letting loose... Can also see him playing soft when accompanying the quiet passages..

What a certain generation of Drummers after him...took were just the Loud forceful parts....glossing over the quiet sensitive parts... maybe was what .....Simon Says.
Advocating an appropriate balanced approach.

or

when he had the 16" cymbal on the left
Hurtin' those drums!
 

Hop

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On John Bonham: "The thing that makes me laugh, though, is a lot of young players think that to play like John, you have to play real hard. No. It’s not like that. We were playing drum kits that would have fallen over had people played as hard as people play now. They weren’t that strong. The whole tone came from the fact that he wasn’t playing that hard."
I don't know how old that article is, but may be likely that Simon formed that opinion after he performed on a Bonzo Bash bill...
Or as I like to call it, the RRP** Fest, due to the more than exuberant performers trying to live up to the legend of JHB by beating the kit like it owes them a 'hunert bucks or worse, like a like a rented mule.

**Rape, Rob, Pillage
 

langmick

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Watched some of the players on the Bonzo Bash.

Every single one of them was hitting as hard as possible, turning those 2002s into splash cymbals. No dynamics at all. From players that really should know better, but whatever.
 

High on Stress

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Even in the loud parts he's not smacking the drums like most modern rock drummers.
I think Simon is 100% correct.
This.
In the footage from the earlier years there are a lot of big arm movements that are mostly showmanship. In his later years there is visibly less of that but the sound and power is still there. Compared to someone like Dave Grohl or Atom Willard, he’s not hitting that hard. And watch any of the guys on YouTube that have worked on emulating his style and sound. They also play with a lighter touch than you may be thinking. Bonham played hard but not the same way some modern players do.
 

Cauldronics

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Haven't you all seen The Song Remains the Same? You can watch the whole spectrum of Bonham's dynamic range in that movie. Sometimes, he's bashing, but much of the time, he's not. About what I'd expect from a great rock drummer.
 

JDA

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or a jazz drummer..

Bonham was jazzy wasn't he : D
I think he knew drums were; treated drums; as a musical instrument.

Look how he danced (both hands) on that 24" GB in the early show video
almost big band
 
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stuart s

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To me Bonham sounded like a Jazz and Funk drummer playing in a hard rock band, he used just the right amount of swing and funk to propel himself and Zep above all the rest. Lots of dynamic range in all his hits, all tastefully done.
 

wflkurt

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I have personally never cared for watching a drummer beat the crap out of a drum set. it sounds choked with little tone to my ears. I once saw Soul Asylum play with Cheap trick when Bun E was still in the band. Soul asylum had a drummer named Michael Bland that was a beast of a guy and he hit those drummers harder than anyone I have ever seen. I thought his cymbals would literally explode he hit them with so much force. I think he actually would come off the seat a little before coming down on them. My whole body cringed watching him pulverise the drums so hard.

On the flip side, Bun E sounded fantastic. He certainly wasn't tapping the drums but his set sound warm and full of resonance. His cymbals had a nice wash to them with great tone to them. It was night and day between the two.
 


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