Connect with us


“Singers tend to be sensitive, but drummers are troubled too, just in a different way”: why I ❤️ John Bonham, by Matt Sorum

Matt Sorum, former drummer with Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and The Cult, on Led Zeppelin’s inspirational drummer John Bonham



“The weird thing is, I was never into Led Zep at the time. At high school I was more interested in smoking pot and listening to prog rock, Genesis and stuff. Everyone else loved Led Zep, but not me. It was only later that I appreciated them.

“John Bonham took these simple R&B influences and he added all this complexity, odd meters and stuff. I love all that. You know, writing a song in 5/4 or 7/4 time. I’ve always tried to do that in the bands I’ve been in but no-one can ever count past four!

“I actually went on the road with Jason Bonham once and I got to see all the old family videos of John. It was fascinating. He’s a hero of mine. I wanted to emulate his attitude, his hot- rod cars, his drinking. I wanted to be that person. And I did become a heavy drinker – I managed that part! But I’ll never be as good as him.

“I have a theory that all good drummers are crazy. You can’t be a regular quiet guy and be a great drummer. It’s amazing how many great drummers have troubled upbringings. Drummers come from hard stock, I think. They often have twisted childhoods. My parents split up when I was a child and that’s when I started playing drums. I was unhappy, angry, aggressive. 

“A lot of drummers have similar stories. Singers tend to be sensitive, but drummers are troubled too, just in a different way. They’re more aggressive with it. The drummer is the one who stands up to the singer and tells him to fuck off. John Bonham never took any shit. And I was always going after Axl. Drummers always play that role.”

This interview originally appeared in Classic Rock 80, published in June 2005.