John Bonham Quotes Interview

Garry Allcock Interview

Information On Interview:

Short interview with Garry Allcock a fellow drummer, and adviser to a young John Bonham.
Source: Thunder Of Drums pg 17, 18


I had been playing with orchestras for some years. John was working on a building site at the time - he was obviously much younger than me, but someone had told him there was a drummer living up at Astwood Bank that he should have a chat with. So the front door bell rang and there's this lad standing on the doorstep saying, "Are you Garry Allcock? Do you play drums? Do you work at Austin? My name's John Bonham, I'm a drummer and I'm potty about cars." He just turned up at the house and asked to come in. I never gave him lessons as such - I didn't teach him at all - but we'd sit in the front room with sticks and a practice pad and I'd show him a few things. It was just a case of: 'do you know this one?' I remember him playing on one of my snare drums and me saying, "For Chrissakes, John, take it steady!" I thought he was going to knock it through the floorboards. He certainly hit hard.

One of the points that Kenny (Johnny Dankworh's drummer) was into was a powerful double stroke. It was something I learnt from Kenny that stood me in good stead during my playing career. It's difficult to describe, but he always said that you should treat a double beat as a single stroke, in terms of one hand or arm movement. Even a four-stroke ruff [a four-beat drum sequence] was only two hand movements. He used to say, "It's all in the mind, Garry." So I can remember going all through this with John, and he really picked up on that idea and capitalised on it to make himself a very powerful player. But that wasn't down to me. I was only passing on the information from Kenny Clare.

To be honest, I never thought John was very good, although he was a quick learner. Being brought up on Count Basie and Stan Kenton, I was into big-band drumming. For me all the beat group stuff was comparatively easy.

He came up to the house a few times and we set up some kits in the front room, although it was a very small house and my wife wasn't too keen. It was like, "Do we really need a bass drum in the kitchen?" Half the time we were talking about cars. I could see why he sought me out, because I was a drummer doing a car design apprenticeship.

We became good friends, and I remember when he first began recording with Robert Plant in The Band Of Joy, he came to my house and showed me a cheque for £600. He went out and bought a secondhand Jaguar.