When listening to the radio, it's quite easy to spot the late John Bonham's drum sound. His lazy backbeat with a deep in-the-pocket groove made Led Zeppelin's songs drum-dominant. Friday at Revolution Bar & Music Hall in Amityville, a birthday bash tribute concert is being held for the man affectionately called "Bonzo." Bonham, who died from alcohol-related causes at age 32 in 1980, would have turned 65 Firday.
"There's something going on with the way Bonzo played that you can't touch," says drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Foreigner). "It's the way he held the stick, how hard he hit and where he connected. You can't duplicate his style, it's just him."
Tichy developed the idea of a tribute band -- "The Moby Dicks" named after Bonham's famous solo -- that plays a three-hour Zeppelin set with drummers rotating on each song. He recruits his famous percussive friends to perform, depending on who is available.
"There have been other Bonham tributes, but not like this," says Tichy. "It's basically a killer party for the best rock drummer in the world. We even use a replica kit from 'The Song Remains the Same' tuned the way Bonham liked it."
SHOW MOVES EAST
Bonzo Birthday Bash has been held exclusively in California for three years, and now it's coming here for the first time. Tichy rallied many drummers who will pay tribute.
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Seaford native Liberty DeVitto, formerly of the Billy Joel Band and currently with the Slim Kings, will be taking on "Misty Mountain Hop."
"I believe Bonham was an R&B drummer in a rock setting," says DeVitto. "He taught me how every note counted. From him I learned how to play with conviction and meaning."
Twisted Sister drummer A.J. Pero, who will perform "Nobody's Fault but Mine," grew up playing in Led Zeppelin cover bands on Staten Island.
"Bonham was a forceful innovative leader, not just a backbeat," says Pero. "He was a musical drummer who not only played intricate beats but rhythms as well. Bonzo brought drumming to the forefront, making it better for other drummers like me to go forward."
Bonham's friend and drum inspiration Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Cactus) of Brooklyn will co-host.
"When John saw my kit, he flipped out and asked me to help him get an endorsement," says Appice. "I called up Ludwig drum company and said, 'I think this band is going to be big.' Boy was that an understatement of five decades."