The late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, one of music’s most revered performers, had a profound impact on a whole generation of musicians who would later contribute to the development of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.
But much like those performers, John Bonham drew inspiration from earlier drummers. The identity of the drummer John Bonham adored was disclosed in a 1998 interview with Ray Gun magazine by his bandmate and singer Robert Plant.
The drummer that John Bonham loved according to Robert Plant
Robert Plant told Ray Gun magazine, “I’ll tell you who Bonzo loved. [Legendary funk drummer] Bernard Purdie. Yeah, Pretty Purdie.” Ray Gun magazine was informed by Robert Plant. On Led Zeppelin’s well-known song “Fool In The Rain,” from the group’s last album “In Through The Out Door,” released in 1979, Purdie’s playing style may be detected as a significant influence. According to Open Culture, John Bonham incorporates a Purdie shuffle variation into the song.
Seven years before Bonham, the American drummer was born in Elkton, Maryland, in 1941. He collaborated as a sideman with a number of well-known artists, including Wilson Pickett, Nina Simone, Solomon Burke, John Lee Hooker, Al Kooper, Herbie Hancock, Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, and Aretha Franklin. Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and Mississippi Bigfoot are two of his nicknames.
The American drummer claimed, in an interview with Music Radar from earlier this year, that he created the shuffle employed by Bonham when he was younger and was attempting to mimic “the way a locomotive kind of pushes and pulls,” Bernard Purdie said.
The American drummer’s adaptation of the Blues shuffle, known as the “Purdie Half-Time Shuffle,” was adopted by other well-known artists. Songs like “Walking On The Moon” by The Police and “Rosanna” by Toto have variations of the shuffle.
Inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013, Purdie is one of the most productive and significant drummers ever.
Bonham might have started to like Purdie because of a drum shop that Black Sabbath’s Bill Ward also used to visit
Before they both became well-known, Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward was friends with John Bonham. He said in an interview with Drum Magazine from back in 2010 that Mike Evans, the proprietor of a drum store, used to perform there and demonstrate Purdie’s playing methods to customers, which may have prompted the prompted Zeppelin drummer to develop a like for Bernard Purdie:
“Sometimes on trips to Drum City, the Birmingham city-centre shop owned by BBC Light Jazz Orchestra drummer Mike Evans, I’d bump into Bonham, along with other fine drummers. Offshoots of the cosmopolitan hordes who’d chosen Birmingham as home.”
Bill Ward said, “Some visits turned into mini-clinics. I’d watch Mike do his ’Purdie.’ I think he turned everyone on to Bernard Purdie, whose hi-hat work was incomparable. Bonham would sit in and funk out. His bass drum playing that language everyone seemed to be speaking. But still not applying as well as he did.”
Even when both of the musicians achieved success as rock stars, they remained close friends. Ward, however, forbade Bonham from playing the drums. The musician for Led Zeppelin would hammer them so hard that it would break the instrument, which was the cause.
In 1980, John Bonham passed away at the age of 32. Following that, the band’s surviving members concluded they could no longer function as a unit. Only a few shows in 2007 would see the trio rejoin, with Jason Bonham serving as the drummer. The band put out 8 well-received studio albums and a number of singles between 1969 and 1979. They continue to be among the bands with the highest lifetime sales. Led Zeppelin has reportedly sold more than 200 million albums worldwide.