Led Zeppelin Engineer on Recording John Bonham: 'I Could Have Used Anything' to Get His Epic Sound

Led Zeppelin Engineer on Recording John Bonham: 'I Could Have Used Anything' to Get His Epic Sound

When you go back through the Led Zeppelin studio albums, you have to stop and marvel at some of the production techniques Jimmy Page used recording the band. And while that list begins with John Bonham’s drum sound on “When the Levee Breaks,” there’s plenty more to consider. The marvelous echoes you hear on Robert Plant’s “Whole Lotta Love” vocals offers another example. But most of all you have to admire the clarity Page managed to get from each instrument. Knowing he had a dream band, Page wanted every note to ring clearly in the mix. For many casual listeners and Zep fanatics, it starts with the sound of Bonham on drums. Whether he was swinging, bashing, or somewhere in between, it’s hard to tire of hearing Zeppelin’s world-class drummer in your speakers. And while you have to thank some first-rate engineers for capturing Bonham’s sound over the years, the great Eddie Kramer said he could have used just about any microphones to record him. To Kramer, Bonham’s physicality and technique transcended studio equipment limitations. Eddie Kramer said the way John Bonham ‘hit the damn drums’ made it work RELATED: When John Bonham Kicked Off a Classic ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ Track With a Little Richard Beat If you wanted to get Bonham’s vast, otherworldly sound on “When the Levee Breaks,” that took some doing. Page and Led Zeppelin IV engineer Andy Johns made that happen by miking the drums from the second floor of the massive hallway ...
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