Classic Rock Drummer Fite: John Bonham vs. Neil Peart

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Way back in the mid '80s I worked in a Ground Round in Manassas, Virginia. I was at various times a dishwasher, cook, Bingo The Clown and server. I worked with a dude named Mike Wimer who adored Led Zeppelin. He considered them the only group worth listening to. He proudly wore his Zoso shirt beneath his kitchen whites just about every day.

We brought in a dishwasher named Chuck whose last name escapes me. I knew him from High School (we were both a few years younger than Mike) and he was a passionate Rush fan who always seemed to be wearing that classic Rush Starman design, both in school and beneath his uniform.

One day they got into a discussion: Neil Peart or John Bonham? The Professor or Bonzo? Needless to say the debate went along party lines and it was a rather tense showdown which nearly caused them to come to blows (Mike did not approve the various ways that Chuck felt Peart would wipe the floor with Bonham) and my pleas that both were quite good but for markedly different reasons might have doused the fisticuffs but they were still royally pissed about it all.

When last I left that place, Mike discovered Guns N' Roses and decided to expand his horizons to include them alongside Zeppelin. Then he had an affair with a manager which prompted her to break up with her husband although the last time I saw him, he said they were over which means she gave up everything for him for nothing! I don't know what happened with Chuck - he was only an acquaintance in school and he didn't last long at the Ground Round, possibly because Mike indeed pounded him one day over the irritation of this issue, I have no idea.

Oddly enough, this discussion/argument has stuck with me through the decades as a very good debate between technical proficiency at one's craft and sheer bombast. Although I like Rush more than Zeppelin by a rather large amount, I view Bonham's style to be more appealing and certainly more influential in rock and metal's development whereas Peart is a prog metal anomaly. Bonham probably couldn't play half - well, maybe all the shit Peart could, but no way does "Kashmir" kick so much ass without John Bonham's neanderthalian percussive prowess.

So who was right Mike or Chuck?

Poll Results

John Bonham 16
Neil Peart 5

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Thursday, 12 February 2015 04:32 (six years ago) link

Chuck b/c of chops & longevity - over a candle that burned twice as bright ... Easy answer ..

Thank you for a fine bed-time story.

BlackIronPrison, Thursday, 12 February 2015 04:44 (six years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Saturday, 21 February 2015 00:01 (six years ago) link

I'm assuming that, like myself, everyone has refrained from posting because we can't choose?

EveningStar (Sund4r), Saturday, 21 February 2015 01:00 (six years ago) link

I like how they both wore their uniforms beneath their uniforms -- you all work in this shit-hole (jk) restaurant but when it's time for a smoke out back, each had a flag to fly. Those, and the Apple-n-Oranges drummers debates were likely the only real smoke the ribs on your menu would ever see and it's a pity these guys couldn't find a way to see more common ground (even if there isn't very much).

What did these guys drink -- i'm guessing Mike was a Bud and Marlboro man and Chuck did menthols and Molson ??? I do enjoy your premise, though, even though it seems to have been lost on this tl;dr ilx community -- but i cannot choose betwixt them because they are such different quantities.

bodacious ignoramus, Saturday, 21 February 2015 15:44 (six years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Sunday, 22 February 2015 00:01 (six years ago) link

This similar thread had quite a bit of discussion.

Rush Vs. Led Zeppelin CHOPS ONLY Poll

earlnash, Sunday, 22 February 2015 00:04 (six years ago) link

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 22 February 2015 02:39 (six years ago) link

Pretty dumbass results. Bonham is seriously overrated.

Prince Kajuku (Bill Magill), Sunday, 22 February 2015 03:45 (six years ago) link

three years pass...


For shits and giggles I did a Facebook search for Mike (the Zeppelin fan) and I found him! He's married and in one photo is is wearing a shirt from... Alice In Chains!

Debating on sending him a Facebook friend request, wondering how he would feel about the poll.

Loud guitars shit all over "Bette Davis Eyes" (NYCNative), Friday, 13 July 2018 19:26 (three years ago) link

haha, awesome update! i feel like i sort of know these guys (but not really), and i really like bodacious ignoramus' description of them wearing "uniforms beneath their uniforms" upthread.

Karl Malone, Friday, 13 July 2018 19:32 (three years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Matt Cameron pretty much does a double up Neal Peart thing on top of Bonzo's Immigrant Song groove with some James Brown speed and intensity on "Jesus Christ Pose". Probably cut to a metronome and I think there might be a bit of toms overdubbed, but a great drum performance.

earlnash, Saturday, 28 July 2018 03:07 (three years ago) link

hope Zeppelin Mike is doing well

the linked thread rush vs zep chops is still a really good read

The Desus & Mero Chain (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 28 July 2018 13:57 (three years ago) link

three years pass...

My brother's on a Rush kick recently. He's not a drummer but he got hold of a DVD called Neil Peart: Taking Center Stage (sic). It's about six hours long, and is a combination of rehearsal and concert footage from 2010 (focussed entirely on the drumming) interspersed with Neil and an interviewer discussing the technical aspects of each song, influences, ambitions, effects.
I knew he was an eclectic listener, and maybe he mentions this in one of his books, but I was surprised to hear him credit such sources as King Sunny Ade and Godley and Creme's "Sandwiches of You" as influences on the drumming patterns of particular Rush songs.
We watched this over three nights; Peart comes across as a serious and detail-oriented but very genial guy.

Halfway there but for you, Thursday, 18 November 2021 17:16 (two weeks ago) link

This is a really cool set, I love watching the all drum versions

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Thursday, 18 November 2021 17:33 (two weeks ago) link

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