Led Zeppelin

Why Stewart Copeland couldn’t take Led Zeppelin seriously

Stewart Copeland has had one hell of a life. The drummer made his name drumming for best-selling British rockers The Police, before going on to write orchestral works for ballet, opera, and film. As a musician who frequently crops up on ‘Hall of Fame’ lists, it’s no wonder Copeland has some pretty strong opinions about the world of rock, as well as some of its biggest names, including Led Zeppelin and their drummer John Bonham.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 back in 2019, Copeland explained that he supposedly met the infamous rock drummer just before his death. “His son Jason (Bonham) says we met,” Copeland began. “But how can I not remember meeting John Bonham for Christ’s sake? So I don’t have a memory of meeting him. Although I’m told that we met. How is possible? Because it was before (Copeland got famous), he was him (Famous) and I was just little old me at the time. It’s hard to imagine.”

Never one to shy away from telling the truth, Copeland went on to explain that Bonham “was not known to be wonderful company as a human being. But dang, drummers argued long into the night about how did he get that monstrous sound. The size of it, not just what he plays but how he plays it. It’s like he is playing on a mountain, the earth shakes when he hits those tom-toms. How does he do that? We are all scratching our heads about that.”

Despite his latent reverence for Bonham, it took Copeland to fully appreciate Led Zeppelin’s music, mainly because he wasn’t a fan of Robert Plant’s singing. But it wasn’t just Plant. After confessing that he’d never been much of a fan of Keith Moon, Copeland said: “I wasn’t a Bonham guy either until years later. I was a Mitch (Mitchell) guy and a Ginger (Baker) guy. Bonham I didn’t get. I didn’t notice him because the singing put me off. So I couldn’t take Led Zeppelin seriously because of that singing. I never even got as far as checking out the drums. But later on, I came to realise what a monster he was.”

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