When the DRUM! staff decided to limit its World’s Heaviest Drummers list to a mere ten spots, we knew a grueling task lay before us. So after the shouting matches, shed tears, and suggestions were ridiculed and shot down (or shot down and then ridiculed), we came to a consensus. There may be someone you think we’ve criminally neglected or even a player you’re surprised to see here. But if we’ve simply reinforced what you already believe, well, we wouldn’t be a drumming authority. However, we can almost guarantee after reading the following pages that you’ll walk away with an expanded notion of what it means to be heavy. Let the bruising begin.
The template for heaviosity, John Bonham was so essential to the Zeppelin sound, the band had no choice but to break up after the drummer overdosed in 1980. Unlike some of the other entries here, Bonham didn’t actually strike very hard, and yet his drum sound was huge – the fact that he tuned the reso side much higher than the batters only partially explains it. How many drummers do you know who are practically synonymous with a beat simply because their execution was so tasty? (We’re referring of course to the half-time shuffle from “Fool In The Rain.”) The first to champion acrylic shells, Bonham is also the only guy on our list associated with the look of a drum set. Don’t forget that an entire musicological study could be devoted to the drummer’s right foot, an appendage so agile and strong – check out “Good Times, Bad Times” – it’s hard to believe it’s not a double pedal. We’ll probably never know the reticent Englishman’s secret since he didn’t analyze his own playing – he just did what he did.
“I never had many drum lessons. I just played the way I wanted and got blacklisted in Birmingham. ’You’re too loud!’ they used to say. ’There’s no future in it.’ But nowadays you can’t play loud enough.”
–TRAPS Magazine, Summer 2007
Gear Ludwig drums and hardware; Paiste cymbals; Celina, Ludwig, and Promuco sticks; Remo and Ludwig heads.
With Led Zeppelin (on WEA): Led Zeppelin; Led Zeppelin II; Led Zeppelin III.Led Zeppelin IV; Houses Of The Holy. (On Swan Song): Physical Graffiti.
Style While we could have chosen countless patterns, “When The Levee Breaks” is impressive for both its simplicity and its power. Two microphones, a drum kit at the bottom of a stairwell, and Bonham created a groove that will resonate forever.