Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were formed in England back in the early 60s and changed the course of Rock and Roll music, becoming the reference for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. The two first Zeppelin albums came out in 1969 and one year later Sabbath released their debut record.
Some members of both groups already knew each other before fame and they continued to be good friends after they became Rock stars. Curiously, the Led Zeppelin members even visited the Heavy Metal group in the studio when they were recording the classic 1973 album “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. The late legendary drummer John Bonhm liked the band and had a favorite song.
The Black Sabbath song that John Bonham loved the most
By the time Led Zeppelin went to see Black Sabbath in the studio, they had already released their most famous albums with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals: “Black Sabbath” (1970), “Paranoid” (1970), “Master of Reality” (1971) and “Vol. 4” (1972). Those albums had most part of the songs that were the biggest Sabbath hits that continued to be played over the decades during their concerts.
But according to the drummer Bill Ward and guitarist Tony Iommi, Zeppelin’s John Bonham liked a song that is not often remembered as one of Sabbath’s most famous tracks. In an interview with Classic Rock in 2022, Ward who knew Bonham since they were teenagers, said that he loved “Supernaut”, from the 1972 album “Vol. 4”.
“Bonham really loved “Supernaut. He really had that song down. We were in the studio one day and he came by. He saw I was playing the double bass drum. And he said: ‘I’ll do it on one.’ He was, without question, the best rock drummer in the world,” Bill Ward said.
When the group visited Sabbath in the studio, at first Bonham wanted to play that track with the group but they ended up just jamming as Tony Iommi revealed in an interview with Classic Rock back in 2017.
“We were really good mates with Led Zeppelin, especially Robert Plant and John Bonham who came from the Midlands. Zeppelin had wanted us to be on their label, Swan Song. But we couldn’t make it work out. During the recording of the ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ album, Zeppelin came into the studio for a jam.”
“John wanted to play ‘Supernaut’ but we jammed instead. We were in the middle of recording so it fucked up the session. I know that it was recorded, and I’d love to hear it. The tape must be around somewhere,” Tony Iommi said.
Bill Ward said that Bonham sounded like a modern Hardcore band playing “Supernaut” these days
“We were recording in Morgan Studios in London, and John came down to see us. He brought Planty and John Paul Jones – Jimmy Page was the only one who wasn’t there. They came in and John’s going, ‘Let’s play Supernaut!’, cos he loved that song. So he sat behind the kit and we started to play it. Of course, he didn’t play it right, but we just carried on and went into a jam,” Tony Iommi told Classic Rock in 2016.
Although Iommi said that Bonham didn’t knew how to play the song exactly right, Sabbath’s Bill Ward recalled that Led Zeppelin would let his friend play with only one bass drum and then when he used Ward’s kit to play “Supernaut” with two bass drums, he would sound like a modern Hardcore band.
“Bonzo was kickin’ the crap out of my drum kit!” Ward laughed. “I can still hear him playing that intro on the hat, over and over. Bonham’s bass drum work, of course, was incredible. I played two bass drums, and they only let him play one in Led Zeppelin, so there he was playing two bass drums. ‘Supernaut’, I tell you, sounded like something from the hardcore bands of today, where they play two bass drums with such incredible speed.”
Bill Ward continued:
“And you know, Bonzo was doing that easily. He was having a good time, playing two bass drums. He was playing all the down beats and some quiet treble with all the high hats. So, he was playing ‘Supernaut’ with a whole different feel. All the while yelling ‘Supernaut!’ for pretty much the whole time. It was crazy, man,” Bill Ward told Backpage Magazine in 2011.
“Supernaut” was also Frank Zappa‘s favorite Black Sabbath song. But is often overshadowed by other more famous tracks from Vol. 4, “Snowblind” and the ballad “Changes”.
In the early days Bill Ward wouldn’t allow Bonham to play on his kit because he would break it
Curiously, in the early days John Bonham would often go see Black Sabbath playing in small clubs and asked to play with them. But Bill Ward wouldn’t allow him because he would hit the drums so hard that used to break it.
The guitarist Tony Iommi recalled that in an interview with Rolling Stone back in 2011. “In the early days, John would want to come up and play with us, but Bill [Ward] wouldn’t let him play his kit. John did get up on one occasion, and broke Bill’s kit. It was in the early days, and Bill couldn’t afford to buy new cymbals and snares. Of course, after that, John would come along. (He would) say, “Can I have a go on your kit, Bill?” He’d go, “NO!” Tony Iommi said.
I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG