John Bonham on drum kit

Led Zeppelin Drummer

Bonham consumed 40 measures of vodka in just 12 hours. John Paul Jones: 'We tried to wake him. [Dead] It was terrible. I had to break the news to Jimmy and Robert.' Read about how John Bonham died.
NEW: John Bonham triplet drum tutorial.

John Bonham Tribute Concert Featuring Stella Drum Line Up - 24th January 2013

Watch Led Zeppelin interview David Letterman - 3rd December 2012

John Bonham (31st May 1948 – 25 September 1980), also known by his nickname ‘Bonzo’, is celebrated as being one of the greatest rock drummers of all time, remaining a constant source of inspiration to generations of drummers since his work in the Rock band Led Zeppelin.

John Bonham Drums                 Drum Set

According to John's parents, his enthusiasm for drumming was evident when he was still a small child of five. He would transform handy household objects laying around into percussion instruments for him to bang on. These included bath salt containers, pots and pans from the kitchen and a circular coffee tin which he would beat with knives and forks as a substitute for drumsticks, resulting in a snare drum like sound.
At the age of ten, Joan bought him his first piece of true drumming equipment: a snare drum. Although buying a drum kit for a teenager can be an alarming decision for any parent to make, John's parents knew that their young son had a true passion to learn the instrument. John received his first full drum kit from them aged 15. John later recalled: "It was almost prehistoric... Most of it was rust."

John was an ardent listener of music on the radio and records. Amongst John's favourite British groups were: Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, The Hollies and The Graham Bond Organisation with one of his drum idols Ginger Baker on drums. He was also a keen listener of American Jazz with drummers such as Buddy Rich, Art Blakey, Max Roach and Louis Bellson.

By early 1968, John Bonham had built up a strong reputation amongst musicians and bands in the Redditch area for being one of the best drummers around. He had the combination of power, stamina, technique and stage presence that made him stand out.

Robert Plant recommended John Bonham as a potential drummer to join Jimmy Page's new group. Page and manager Peter Grant went to check out John's drumming first hand at a Tim Rose concert which took place at a club in Hampstead, North London, July 1968. Jimmy was impressed and invited John to join Led Zeppelin. However, around this same time John had also been receiving other tempting offers from esteemed artists such as Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe who were in positions to offer John more financially lucrative prospects. Plant and Grant bombarded Bonham with telegrams of persuasion (eight from Plant and fourty from Grant) sent to John at his favourite local pub: 'Three Men in a Boat' in Walsall. Bonham finally decided to accept Grant's offer, joining the band in early September 1968. Bonham said: "I decided I liked their music better than Cocker's or Farlowe's."

Read the full John Bonham biography

John Bonham Drums:
Bonham played exclusively on Ludwig drums for the duration of his career in Led Zeppelin.

Standard Set Up:

John Bonham Standard Drum Kit Setup

A large bass drum [A] with a mounted tom [B] and mounted ride cymbal [3], two floor toms [C & D], two horizontally mounted crash cymbals [2 & 4] and a hi-hat [1]. This set up was used by Bonham both in the studio and on tour.

This format was also used by the big band legend Buddy Rich, one of Bonzo's drum idols.

Learn more about the different Ludwig Drum Sets used by Bonzo. (with pictures!)

John Bonham Story
Listen to the BBC's documentary narrated by the drummer Dave Grohl.

Watch an interview with the great Led Zeppelin Drummer from 1970.

Death Of John Bonham

Have a look at this List Of Bands that John Bonham was in before he joined Led Zeppelin

John Bonham's Life Timeline

John Bonham's Discography


Have a look around and have fun!