John Bonham’s Birthday – This Week In Rock History: May 27 – June 2

“Brushes..? Nah. Hit ’em as hard as you can.” – John Bonham

John Bonham, Rock’s Elite Drummer, Was Born on May 31, 1948

John Bonham has been called by many people the best rock drummer in rock history. They say he signaled a new era of rock drumming. And he’s routinely listed as one of rock’s most influential and important drummers. It’s hard to overestimate how important John Bonham was to Led Zeppelin. He was in many ways not just the beat but also the heart beat, the soul, a spring of primal energy that exploded in a music fury every time he took his place behind the kit. Nobody sounds like Bonham, but everyone tries. On the other hand, Bonham couldn’t help sounding like himself, no matter what drum kit he used. He was an aggressive minimalist, eschewing much cymbal work in favor of the sound of the heavy drums. Bonham excelled in his mastery of speed, power, and feel for the groove. His sound is immediately recognizable and impossible to copy. Born on May 31, 1948, his drumming is some of the most admired and beloved in the history of modern music. And don’t just take my word for it. Here’s some things some other people had to say about John Bonham:

“Bonzo had very broad listening tastes. When we weren’t listening to James Brown or Otis Redding, he might be listening to Joni Mitchell or Crosby Stills Nash & Young. Bonzo was a great lover of songs.” – John Paul Jones

“John was the greatest rock drummer ever, as far as I’m concerned.” – Jimmy Page

“I spent years in my bedroom – literally fucking years – listening to Bonham’s drums and trying to emulate his swing or his behind-the-beat swagger or his speed or power,” Dave Grohl of Nirvana and The Foo Fighters once said  in Rolling Stone, “not just memorizing what he did on those albums but getting myself into a place where I would have the same instinctual direction as he had.”

To be mentioned in the same sentence as my father when it comes to drumming is… I’m very flattered. The show I do is kind of my side work, I do about 30 shows a year when I’m not doing my regular work, and it’s just my way of saying how great I think he is.” – Jason Bonham

Here’s what else happened this week in rock history:

Born this Week in Rock History

Pete Sears: May 27, 1948 (Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna, bass and keyboards)
T-Bone Walker: May 28, 1910 (blues singer-songwriter and guitarist)
Papa John Creach: May 28, 1917 (Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, violin)
John Fogerty: May 28, 1945 (Creedence Clearwater Revival, guitar)
Gary Brooker: May 29, 1945 (Procol Harum, piano)
Nicky “Topper” Headon: May 30, 1955 (The Clash, drums)
John Bonham: May 31, 1948 (Led Zeppelin, drums)
Ronnie Wood: June 1, 1947 (The Rolling Stones, guitar)
Charlie Watts: June 2, 1941 (The Rolling Stones, drums)

Died this Week in Rock History

Carl Radle: May 30, 1980 (Derek and the Dominos, bass)
John Kahn: May 30, 1996 (The Jerry Garcia Band, bass)
Vince Welnick: June 2, 2006 (Grateful Dead, keyboards)
Bo Diddley: June 2, 2008 (Rock and Roll singer-songwriter and guitarist)


Music releases and the top of the charts

The Doobie Brothers’ LP Stampede is certified gold: May 28, 1975
The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” hits #1: May 29, 1971
Alice Cooper’s LP Welcome To My Nightmare is certified gold: May 30, 1975
The Eagles, “One Of These Nights” was released: May 31, 1975
Paul McCartney and Wings, “Live And Let Die” was released: June 1, 1973
KISS, Love Gun was released: June 1, 1977
Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” hits #1: June 1, 1968
The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released: June 2, 1967
David Bowie, David Bowie was released: June 2, 1967


This week in rock History

Herndon Stadium in Atlanta holds one of the first outdoor rock concerts, featuring Ray Charles, Jimmy Reed, and B.B. King. Nine thousand people attend: May 29, 1959

The Beatles hung out with Bob Dylan in  his hotel room at the Mayfair in London, watching scenes from his upcoming concert documentary Don’t Look Back. One of rock’s greatest bands hangin’ with one of rock’s greatest solo artists. Pretty cool: May 28, 1966

Bill Graham organizes a Vietnam Veterans benefit concert featuring The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Starship, and Country Joe: May 28, 1982

Three dozen audiences members attending the day’s Grateful Dead show at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom are treated for hallucinations after drinking apple juice purposefully spiked with LSD (some say by the band themselves): May 29, 1971

KISS play their last concert in their traditional makeup (although, reformed with all original members, they would return to the painted faces in 1996): May 29, 1983

Led Zeppelin begin recording what would be their final studio album while still together, In Through The Out Door: May 30 1978

Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and B.B. King gather for a benefit concert to raise money for New Orleans public schools struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Though too ill to perform, Katrina survivor Fats Domino attends as a special guest: May 30, 2009

During his vocal overdub on the Beatles song “Revolution 1,” John Lennon begins to shout and scream “all right” and other wordless nonsense vocalizations over the long six-minute jam of the original recording, joined by Yoko Ono (attending her first Beatles session). The screaming and conversation between he and Yoko would become an integral part of the eventual track “Revolution 9”: May 31, 1968

Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham celebrates his 25th birthday with a Robert Plant-led audience singalong of “Happy Birthday” at the band’s show in Los Angeles, then by carousing with friend George Harrison afterward. Harrison playfully throws the birthday cake at Bonham, who tosses George into the hotel pool: May 31, 1973

The Who secures its place as the World’s Loudest Rock Band with a 120-decibel, 76,000-watt blast of a performance at Charlton Athletic Grounds in London. The record would stand for nearly a decade: May 31, 1976

The Rolling Stones visit the US for the first time, arriving at New York’s Kennedy Airport in order to kick off their first American tour, an event which would inspire their song “Flight 505.” June 1, 1964

The Rolling Stones play a sold out gig at the 100 Club in London, for 400 people. Very lucky people: May 31, 1982

The Beatles added some overdubs to “Yellow Submarine.” These included John Lennon blowing bubbles in a bucket of water while shouting “Full speed ahead Mister Captain!” The Beatles also marched around the studio in a conga line singing “We all live in a yellow submarine”: June 1, 1966

That’s all for This Week in Rock History. Did we miss anything big? Let us know in the comments below, or leave us a message on Facebook at or on Twitter at @tributapparel.

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