John Bonham

By: Erik Davis
May 31, 2009


Back when rock’s head was swelling, when the attention deficit disorder of a Keith Moon could be mistaken for genius, JOHN BONHAM (1948-80) was largely dismissed as a ham-fisted lout. Now we know that the quintessence of rock is the ham-fisted lout. As such, Bonham’s volume and physical command, his concern for rhythmic commitment rather than finesse or filigree, lends his sounds the meaty presence of a Rodin sculpture. The funkiest of classic rock drummers, Bonham peeled away the sluttish sauciness of the groove to reveal a chthonic vein of bubbling pitch that rooted his rhythms in the earth. Though many find the use of such organic metaphors a dodgy move in criticism, with Bonham one must simply bow before the upwelling force. If we do not acknowledge how low the lo in hilo can go, we are lost in the muddle of the middle, the fussy fill before the resounding return to the beat.


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Gilbert Shelton | Rainer Werner Fassbinder | Darryl “D.M.C” McDaniels | Johnny Paycheck |

READ MORE about the Blank Generation (1944-53).


HiLo Heroes, Pop Music