John Bonham Quotes Interview

John Bonham Quotes

Starting Out - Pre-Zeppelin

"I've wanted to be a drummer since I was about five years old. I used to play on a bath salt container with wires on the bottom, and on a round coffee tin with a loose wire fixed to it to give a snare drum effect. Plus there were always my Mum's pots and pans. When I was ten, my Mum bought me a snare drum. My Dad bought me my first full drum kit when I was 15. It was almost prehistoric. Most of it was rust."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"When I left school I went into the trade with my Dad. He had a building business, and I used to like it. But, drumming was the only thing I was any good at, and I stuck at that for three or four years. If things got bad I could always go back to building."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"I was so keen to play when I left school, I'd have played for nothing. In fact, I did that for a long time, but my parents stuck by me."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"I swore to Pat that I'd give up drumming when we got married, but every night I'd come home and just sit down at the drums. I'd be miserable if I didn't."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"I never had any lessons. When I first started playing I used to read music. I was very interested in music. But when I started playing in groups I did a silly thing and dropped it. It's great if you can write things down."
Mick Bonham Book Interview from 1973

"I've always been obsessed with drums. They fascinate me. Any other instrument - nothing. I play acoustic guitar a bit. But it's always been drums first and foremost. I don't reckon on this Jack-of-all-trades thing. I thing that felling is a lot more important than technique. It's all very well doing a triple paradiddle - but who's going to know you've done it? If you play technically you sound like everybody else. It's being original that counts."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"Your drummers not much good, is he? Let me have a go and I'll show you."
Source: Thunder Of Drums

"I had a group with Nicky James, an incredible lead singer. But we had so much of the equipment on hire-purchase, we'd get stopped at night on the way back from a gig and they'd take back all of the PA."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"It really started to happen when I was with Tim Rose. I was doing OK and I was getting offers. Joe Cocker was interested, so was Chris Farlowe and Robert and Jimmy. It was baffling. I had to consider so much. It wasn't just a question of who had the best prospects, but which was going to do the right kind of stuff."
Source: Mick Bonham Book - Bonham interview in 1973

Early Influences

"I don't consider that I'm particularly influenced by anyone or anything. But when I started playing, I was influenced by early soul. It was just that feel, that sound."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"When I listen to drummers I like to be able to say "Oh! I haven't heard that before." Being yourself is so much better than sounding like anyone else. Ginger Baker's thing is that he is himself. So it's no good trying to do what he does."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"When I started playing I was most impressed by those early soul records. I like the feel and the sound they achieved. I suppose I said to myself, I'll get that sound too."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

On Joining Led Zeppelin

"I had so much to consider before I joined Led Zeppelin. It wasn't a question of who had the best prospects, but which was going to do the right kind of stuff. I knew Joe Cocker was going to make it. But, I already knew from playing in Band of Joy with Robert Plant what he liked, and I knew what Jimmy Page was into, so I decided I liked that sort of music better. And it paid off."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"I was pretty shy. I thought the best thing was not to say much but suss it all out. We had a play and it went quite well."
Source: Thunder Of Drums pg64 - Bonzo on his first rehearsal with Page, Plant and Jones.

"When I first joined the group, I didn't know Jimmy, and I felt a bit shy. He was the big star, and had been around for ages with The Yardbirds. Now the group is closer than ever, and there is a lot of scope for all of us."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

His Drumming Style / Technique

"I've always liked drums to be bright and powerful. I've never used cymbals much. I use them to crash into a solo and out of it, but basically I prefer the actual drum sound."
Source: Mick Bonham Book pg24 - 1973 interview.

"I really like to yell out when I'm playing. I yell like a bear to give it a boost. I like our act to be like a thunderstorm."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"It's all to do with the swing. You get a much better tone with a big stroke than you do with a short stab."
Source: Mick Bonham Book - On playing drums with hands

"Brushes..? Nah. Hit 'em as hard as you can."
Source: Thunder Of Drums

"My ambition is to record the 1812 Overture. I would over-dub all the rhythm sections - the bells, cannons and timps. I'll do it one day."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

During Led Zeppelin

"I don't think I had any idea the group would achieve so much."
Thunder of drums

"The band just goes from strength to strength. I keep thinking we're going to wake up one morning and find it's all over. Sure we've had criticism. When we first came up we were called a second Cream, but now you see they call some new groups a second Zeppelin."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"I'm still the same person. I enjoy decorating and gardening , and I'm still as hot-headed as ever. I'm a bit quick tempered. I never sit down and think about things. I couldn't do what Jimmy does and shut myself away in the country. I like people around me all the time. Parties, going out and general looning. I suppose I'm a bit of a noisy person. In fact I'm probably the noisiest of the four of us."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"I can't say what we are going to sound like in the future, and I don't really wasn't to know. If I could tell you what we're going to sound like in two years time it would ruin it anyway. We might be on top next year, or I might be back on the buildings."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

On The Led Zeppelin Break-Up Rumours

"The whole group gets on well. To me some groups get too close, and the slightest thing can upset the whole band. In this group we're just close enough. It's never a case of somebody saying something and the whole band being on the verge of breaking up. You get more enjoyment out of playing with each other if you don't know everyone too well. Sometimes it isn't any fun anymore to play with a group you've been in for years, but with Led Zeppelin we're always writing new stuff, doing new things, and every individual is important and getting into new things themselves."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"I can't say how long Led Zeppelin will last, but we'll go on for as long as we can."
Mick Bonham Book

"To put an end to all the break up rumours, anyone who goes to Bath will see and hear Led Zeppelin play as they've never heard us play before."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

On Touring & Playing Live

"We enjoy playing. Every gig is important to us. In this business, it doesn't matter how big you are, you can't afford to become complacent. If you adopt that attitude you're dead. That'll never happen to us."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"There are some bands who tour America as many times as possible, but although we could do this, the result would be that the audience would go along for the sake of going to a concert and not because it's an event. Before long your prestige goes and you burn yourself out. You must create your own demand."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"Sometimes touring gets a bit wearing, but that's only I'm married with kids at home. I've never gotten pissed off with the actual touring. I enjoy playing - I could play every night. It's just being away that gets you down sometimes. I still enjoy going through different towns that we haven't been to before. But you get fed up with places like New York because they're not interesting anymore."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"The restaurant scene in the South can be unbelievable. We've stopped for a coffee and watched everybody in the place get service. People who came in after we did. Everybody sits and glares at you, waiting and hoping that you'll explode and start a scene."
Source: Mick Bonham Book- talking about touring in the USA

"We even had a gun pulled on us in Texas. Some guy was shouting out and giving us general crap about our hair and all: we simply gave it back to him. We were leaving after the show and this same guy turned up at t he door. He pulls out this pistol and says to us, "You guys gonna do any shouting now?" We cleared out of there 'Tout de suite'"
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"The atmosphere was fantastic, when you consider it was cold and windy. And even when it rained they sat through it and could still be happy. I didn't think you could get an atmosphere like that at a concert."
Source: Mick Bonham Book - John Bonham after the Bath Festival

"It was a fantastic place to play. Rock music only started to really happen there a few years ago, but it's now the second biggest market in the world. The people were so friendly and we had the best rock promoter in the world there looking after us. It turned out the 'Immigrant Song' is one of our biggest favourites in Japan, and it's the number we always open with. So the audiences were going potty right from the start."
Source: Mick Bonham Book - Japan tour

"I've got worse. I have terribly bad nerves all the time. Once we start into 'Rock And Roll' I'm fine. I just can't stand sitting around, and I worry about playing badly - and if I do then I'm really pissed off. If I play well, I feel fine. Everybody in the band is the same, and each has some little thing they do before we go on, like pacing about or lighting a cigarette. It's worse at festivals. You might have to sit around for a whole day and you daren't drink because you'll get tired and blow the gig. So you sit drinking tea in a caravan with everybody saying, "Far out, man.""
Source: Mick Bonham Book

Moby Dick (Drum Solo)

"I usually play for twenty minutes, and the longest I've ever done was under thirty. It's a long time, but when I'm playing it seems to fly by., There have been times when I have blundered, and got the dreaded look from the lads. But that's a good sign. It show you're attempting something you've not tried before."
Source: Mick Bonham Book

"I can get an absolutely true sound. It hurts at first, but the skin soon hardens and now I can hit a drum harder with my hands than with drum sticks."
Source: Mick Bonham Book - Talking about drumming using his hands


"If we'd have said we were not upset, they would have thought we were so rich it meant nothing to us, and if we say we're upset about it, they'll say money is all we care about."
Source: Mick Bonham Book - About the $180,000 theft from concert ticket sales in New York in 1973

"My son Jason - he plays you know. I've got him a little Japanese drum kit, made to scale. It's got a 14 inch bass drum. He's got his mother's looks, but in character he is just like me. He's always drumming, even when we go out in the car he takes his sticks to bash on the seats. Before the end of Led Zeppelin I'm going to have him on stage with us a the Albert Hall."
Source: Mick Bonham Book - Chris Welch interview talking about moby dick. 1975

"I'd like to have it publicised that I came in after Karen Carpenter in the Playboy drummer poll! She couldn't last ten minutes with a Zeppelin number."
Source: Mick Bonham Book - 1975 interview

"My names John Bonham, I'm a drummer and I'm potty about cars."
Source: Thunder Of Drums pg 17

Unsourced Quotes:

"Bollocks this for a game of soldiers"

"Just watch me tonight, I'm gonna totally demolish this drum kit."

"It's all right for you. All you got to do is go out there and look good, wiggle your arse, because nobody gives a fuck whether you miss a note or not!" - to Robert Plant during one of their good-natured arguments