John Bonham

By: Erik Davis
May 31, 2009

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Back when rock’s head was swelling, when the attention deficit disorder of a Keith Moon could be mistaken for genius, JOHN BONHAM (1948-80) was largely dismissed as a ham-fisted lout. Now we know that the quintessence of rock is the ham-fisted lout. As such, Bonham’s volume and physical command, his concern for rhythmic commitment rather than finesse or filigree, lends his sounds the meaty presence of a Rodin sculpture. The funkiest of classic rock drummers, Bonham peeled away the sluttish sauciness of the groove to reveal a chthonic vein of bubbling pitch that rooted his rhythms in the earth. Though many find the use of such organic metaphors a dodgy move in criticism, with Bonham one must simply bow before the upwelling force. If we do not acknowledge how low the lo in hilo can go, we are lost in the muddle of the middle, the fussy fill before the resounding return to the beat.

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Gilbert Shelton | Rainer Werner Fassbinder | Darryl “D.M.C” McDaniels | Johnny Paycheck |

READ MORE about the Blank Generation (1944-53).

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Categories

HiLo Heroes, Pop Music

What do you think?

  1. just got turned on to you via a friend. read your critique of Symphonie Fantastique. Please consider a gig as a Classical Music critic. THANK YOU for speaking up for Bonham. He made Zeppelin’s sound, NOT Plant and/or Page (in my not so humble opinion). He understands the highs and lows of meter (and rhythm). There are plenty of Page like guitarists (eddie van halen) and Plant voices (the lead singer from motley crue or ac/dc). It’s hard for me to come up with another Bonham.

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