When Rock and Roll fans discuss who the greatest drummer of all time was, the two most mentioned names are usually John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) and Neil Peart (Rush). The two musicians were a fundamental part of the sound of the bands they were part during their careers and have influenced countless generations of drummers.
John Bonham tragically died in 1980 at the age of 32 and didn’t had the chance to see the evolution of many other famous drummers like Neil Peart. But the Canadian musician was on the music business for decades until his passing in 2019 at the age of 67 and gave his opinion on many of his peers, including John Bonham.
What is Neil Peart’s opinion on John Bonham
In 1980, when John Bonham passed, Neil Peart was a member of Rush for only six years and had recorded six studio albums with them. Even though Peart had unique style, he loved the British drummer and had listed him as huge influence.
“In many ways, my drum solo remains an ever-changing tribute to all the drummers that I have ever appreciated. You don’t have to listen too hard to hear me emulate Gene Krupa’s tom-tom rhythms, Buddy Rich’s driving snare work, Michael Giles’s intricate syncopations, Keith Moon’s explosive fluidity. Or John Bonham‘s ‘big foot’ triplets. They were all so great.”
Neil Peart continued:
“When I was starting out, very young, John Bonham and Led Zeppelin were new in those olden days. John Bonham did always the big triplets with his giant bass drum. I had two little bass drums at the time. So I just added those in. (I also) had kind of four-beat triplets as my variation on it. So then over the years I found many ways to develop that. Also to apply it to songs outside of the solo,” Neil Peart said in the 2005 movie “Anatomy of a Drum Solo”.
Curiously, when Rush released their self-titled debut album, they were compared a lot with Led Zeppelin. The main reason for it was their sound and Geddy Lee‘s vocals. But it was especially when Neil Peart joined the band in 1974 that things started to change. With Peart already as they drummer on the second album “Fly By Night” (1975), they started to move to another direction.
Peart also became the band’s main lyricist and he was an avid reader. The musician added a lot of uncommon words to the songs and themes that were not always included in music. The drum parts also became more complex with a lot of tempo changes and different rhythms. Just like in Led Zeppelin, the drums were also an essencial part of Rush’s sound.
They both loved Buddy Rich
Even though they started their careers six years apart, they had almost the same age. Peart was only four years younger than Bonham. So the two musicians were impacted by the same generation of the drummers who influenced music in the 50s and 60s.
One of them was the legendary Jazz drummer Buddy Rich, who was hero of the two. Bonham was a huge fan of the American Jazz scene and it was a big influence to his style. Just like Peart, who even played on and produced the tribute album “Burning For Buddy”. Released in 1994, the record also had names like Steve Gadd, Matt Sorum, Kenny Aronoff, Joe Morello and Bill Bruford.
What John Bonham’s son said about Neil Peart
Jason Bonham was only 14 when his father died and as he told Eddie Trunk in 2022, it was around that time that he first discovered Rush. “When I do drum seminars and clinics I play Who songs, and Zeppelin. ’Cause those are the things that turned me on: Genesis, Who, and Zeppelin. Even a little bit of Rush, actually. I went through the stage, after dad died, where somebody bought me ‘2112’ (Rush album released in 1976).”
“I was suddenly listening to this guy playing drums and going, ‘Wow!’. When we were in Canada last time, at the end of ‘Whole Lotta Love’, I tipped my hat to Neil Peart. We went into ‘Tom Sawyer’ for about a minute. So it was very cool,” Jason Bonham said.