Today in 1976, Jimmy Page produced an all-percussive track for drummer John Bonham, at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland. It showed up in 1982 on the Coda album as “Bonzo’s Montreux” (credited to “The John Bonham Drum Orchestra”). With Page’s added electronic treatments, including the use of an Eventide Clockworks Harmonizer (resulting in the steel drum sound on the track), this is Bonzo far removed from the tear-away stuff of “Moby Dick”. Divided into sections, the piece rumbles along, sounding like a steel band about to trip and fall.
Although Bonham was a master drummer, he had a realistic attitude toward the role of a rock drummer. “Not everybody likes or understands a drum solo, so I like to bring in effects and sounds to keep their interest,” he explained. “I used to play a hand drum solo long before I joined Zeppelin. I played a solo on the Duke Ellington tune ‘Caravan’ when I was only 16. Sometimes I’d take a chunk out of my knuckles on the hi-hat, or catch my hand on the tension rods. With Zeppelin I tried to play something different every night in my solos. I’d play for 20 minutes sometimes, but the longest ever was 30 minutes. It’s a long time, but when I was playing it seemed to fly by. There were times when I blundered and got the dreaded look from the lads. But that was a good sign; it showed I’d attempted something I’d not tried before.”