Dave Grohl’s Favorite Led Zeppelin Album Shaped How He Plays Drums

When it comes to classic rock drummers, they don’t get much more iconic than John Bonham. The Led Zeppelin timekeeper defined the band’s thunderous sound with his heavy hitting behind the kit. He was such a crucial member of the band that Led Zeppelin decided to suddenly split after his 1980 death rather than attempt to carry on. Dave Grohl made his name as a drummer in Nirvana before fronting Foo Fighters. Grohl’s favorite Led Zeppelin album includes a powerhouse Bonham performance as one of its standout tracks, one that molded his drumming approach.

Dave Grohl (second from left) with Led Zeppelin members John Paul Jones (from left), Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant. Grohl's favorite Led Zeppelin album is one with a powerhouse John Bonham performance.
John Paul Jones (from left), Dave Grohl, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant | Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham earned a reputation as the greatest rock drummer ever

Whether it was deftly mixing beats and fills on Jimmy Page’s “Dazed and Confused” guitar solo, making a pedestrian beat sound otherworldly on “When the Levee Breaks,” or soloing on the aptly-titled “Moby Dick,” Bonham displayed his hard-hitting chops throughout Zeppelin’s run. Bonham was so indispensable that he earned songwriting credits on several Led Zeppelin tracks even though he didn’t write the music.

John Paul Jones, Bonham’s rhythm partner as Zep’s bassist, accurately sized up their dynamic at the band’s first rehearsal.

When a standout drummer from another generation calls you the greatest drummer ever, as Metallica’s Lars Ulrich said of Bonham, you know the praise is justified. Grohl also took inspiration from Bonham, but his favorite Led Zeppelin album might be a little unexpected.

Dave Grohl’s favorite Led Zeppelin album has one Bonham showcase

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Bonham’s heavy-handed (in a good way) playing helped give Led Zeppelin their signature sound. Page, also Zep’s recording engineer, capably replicated Bonham’s live assault on the studio albums.

While several of the band’s signature songs came early in their career, Dave Grohl’s favorite Led Zeppelin album was their final release, CODA, specifically because of Bonham’s drum solo track “Bonzo’s Montreux.” The current Foo Fighter and former Nirvana drummer said CODA molded him into the drummer he would become because of “Bonzo’s Montreux” (per Far Out):

“Led Zeppelin completely molded the way I play the drums. No one can deny that band anything. All their albums are great. I prefer ‘Houses Of The Holy’ and ‘In Through The Out Door’ to their first two, but ‘Coda’ was the best, ‘cos “Bonzo’s Montreux” was on it – John Bonham’s one drum symphony. I stayed up many a night working on that one. I’ll play it for you right now if you want!”

Dave Grohl explains why CODA is his favorite Led Zeppelin album

CODA was a contractual filler that Page pieced together after Bonham’s death. A secret rehearsal session that Page taped formed the basis for “Bonzo’s Montreux.” The guitarist added other sonic flourishes before putting it on CODA.

Grohl is almost an honorary Zeppelin member at this point

RELATED: Why Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham Didn’t Worry About Drumming Technique 

Led Zeppelin isn’t getting back together anytime soon, but Grohl is almost an honorary band member.

He sat behind the kit to play Bonham’s rollicking part when Page and Jones joined Foo Fighters to play “Rock and Roll” at Wembley Stadium in 2008. Former Foo drummer Taylor Hawkins did a respectable Robert Plant impersonation on vocals. The two Zep members also played “Ramble On,” with Grohl singing and Hawkins on drums.

The following year, Grohl, Jones, and Queens of the Stone Age founder Josh Homme teamed up to form Them Crooked Vultures. The supergroup released their self-titled album in 2009, toured in 2009 and 2010, and reunited at Hawkins’ tribute concert in 2022.

Dave Grohl’s favorite Led Zeppelin album might be an oddity in the band’s catalog, but it shaped his drum playing and eventually allowed him to share the stage with two of Zep’s original members.

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