Best Drummer and Best Acoustic Guitarist Share Same Birthday

The man I consider the best drummer and the man I consider the best acoustic guitar player ever were both born yesterday. First, the drummer. John freakin’ Bonham would have been 76 today if he hadn’t drank 40 shots of vodka on October 26, 1980. 

John did everything with ferocious excess including beating the life out of his drum set. I remember a review of Physical Graffiti in, I think Creem Magazine, where the author said it sounded like Bonzo must have had photos of Nixon on his drums. Whenever he’d take a break in the studio Page would hide the second bass drum because he played so heavy with his feet that it caused distortion on the tapes. No one pounded the skins harder than Bonham. Kashmir. Achilles Last Stand. And the ultimate rock drum sound of all time on When the Levee Breaks. 

But John didn’t just pound harder than anyone else; he combined that power with a groove and showmanship that simply have not been equaled. Zep had several secret ingredients, one being the variety of each individual band member’s musical tastes. Page was a rock, blues and rockabilly fan. Plant loved folk and bluegrass. Jonesy was a classical and jazz buff. And Bonham? Motown and R&B. His ability to swing and groove was something that set Zeppelin apart from all of the many pretenders to their throne. Just listen to Fool in the Rain – Isolated Drum Track on YouTube. For technical musicians, there are thirty-two measure single stroke rolls, unique high hat and kick dynamics, and timekeeping solid as a metronome. For music lovers, it is literally a song within a song. Or name another band that could pull off both The Ocean and The Crunge on the same album. Bonzo, baby. 

And the best acoustic guitar player? Lots of jazz and flamenco guys could play lightning fast, but no one plays quite like Tommy Emmanuel. His secret? He grew up in Australia at a time that TV was not prevalent so, when he was a lad hearing those Beatles songs, he thought one person was singing and playing the lead, rhythm, and bass, and one playing the drums.

Well, what can a poor boy do, except play like a rock and roll band? Young Tommy taught himself how to play the lead and rhythm guitar parts, and bass part, seemingly all at the same time. Just watch/listen to him play a Day Tripper/Lady Madonna medley on YouTube. He is in a class unto himself. 

Whole lotta talent born on this date. Who is your favorite drummer? Who is your favorite acoustic guitarist?

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