Hi, MD readers, Roxy here from the ’80s band Vixen. “I know you, you’re Robert Plank!” Believe it or not, my sister Maxine blurted out those words to the one and only Robert Plant! I elbowed her and said, “PLANT, dummy.” Robert smiled and said, “Yes, I’m Robert Plank.” Frozen with embarrassment, we didn’t know what the hell to do next. Maxine and I were hyper-excited, naive young teens who had just met the guys in Led Zeppelin—c’mon! The band was playing in Detroit, and we couldn’t go to the concert, so we decided to find their hotel and meet them. I didn’t fully appreciate the impact of shaking John Bonham’s hand until many years later. (I still have to pinch myself.) My sister and I were not groupies–we didn’t even know what being a groupie meant. We were just hell-bent on putting together a band that rocked hard like Zeppelin and Sabbath.
After the awkward introductions, we went home and jammed on “Communication Breakdown.” I hadn’t been playing drums very long, but instinctively I knew the power of Bonham’s drumming. His feel and placement of fills are so natural, and such an integral part of Zeppelin’s signature sound. And pocket–John had major pocket! It’s what every drummer strives for. I’ve become obsessed with finding that pocket. Intricate beats played in the pocket are impressive especially when you hear someone like Dennis Chambers laying down ridiculously difficult rhythms while keeping the groove sexy and steady. He’s another jaw-dropping drummer, and another one of my faves.
I was recently given a CD of Bonham in the recording studio, and that’s partly why I chose to write about him here. On the CD you can hear John grunting and humming loudly along to the music while laying down these heavy, hard-charging grooves that are passionate and inspiring. His simple beats aren’t so simple at all, and he makes it sound that way. He’s locked in, slamming the snare hard as hell, and driving it home. He’s in total control, and his drum sound is enormous. And every fill that rolls off his sticks, whether easy or difficult, fits the track and flows naturally from him.
I dig Bonham’s playing now more than ever. It took me years to fully appreciate the less-is-more concept. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always have metal in my veins, and I still get off on a good barnburner that calls for machine gun double bass and kick-ass fills. However, laying down a steady, hard-driving groove that’ll bring you to your knees is damn impressive!
I love being a drummer, and I’m still a work in progress. And they don’t call me the “Heavy Slammin’ Groove Queen” for nothing!
Check out what I’m up to and give me some feedback…I’d love to hear from you!