R J Holland · 


Pro drummer for over 50 years session and touring drummer.Sep 7

Did John Bonham perform sober?

Yes. He was a professional. He could not have done what he did on stage if he was drunk.

He was not a Keith Moon or Dennis Wilson.

At a Beach Boys concert, I saw Dennis Wilson wavering on his drum throne so bad that his replacement took over. There were times that Moonie could barely perform on stage.

Now I’m not saying John never had a drink before he went on stage but he was never so drunk that he couldn’t perform.

For fun, some John Bonham quotes-

1. “People who don’t take care of their drums really annoy me.”

2. “I remember in the early days when we played six nights a week for a month and I was doing my long drum solo every night. My hands were covered in blisters.”

3. “With Zeppelin, I tried to play something different every night in my solos. I’d play for 20 minutes but the longest ever was 30 minutes. It’s a long time, but when I was playing it seemed to fly by.”

4. “Sometimes you’d come up against a brick wall… or sometimes you go into a fill and you’d know halfway through it was going to be disastrous.”

5. “I hate it when people slag us off. We had done three tours during 1970 and we finished off feeling we had just about had enough. We had done so much in that short space of time, we were drained.”

6. “My nerves before a gig got worse; I had terrible bad nerves all the time. Once we started… I was fine.”

7. “There was absolutely no intention of splitting up. We had so many great ideas to use on the new album. John Paul Jones was incredible, coming to the studio each day with new instruments to play.”

8. “There were times when I blundered and got the dreaded look from the lads. But that was a good sign. It showed I’d attempted something I’d not tried before.”

9. “I dare not drink before a gig because I’ll get tired and blow it. So I have to sit drinking tea in a caravan.”

10. “Not everybody likes or understands a drum solo, so I like to bring in effects and sounds to keep their interest.”

11. “We once did six tours of America in 15 months.”

12. “We had offers to go everywhere and we could have done them. But what would have been the point? We were tired. We had worked hard and needed a break before we got stale. We spent six months at home and writing songs.”

13. “Drumming was the only thing I was ever good at.”

Johnny, we hardly knew ya!”