CARMINE APPICE: 'JOHN BONHAM Told Me I Was One Of His Influences'
October 12, 2020
In a new interview with the "Aftershocks" podcast, legendary drummer Carmine Appice was asked if it's important for him to keep the legacy of John Bonham (LED ZEPPELIN) alive through his recordings and live performances. He responded (see video below): "Well, for me, it's different, because I was around before him. [LED ZEPPELIN] opened up for [VANILLA FUDGE], and when they did, John Bonham had told me I was one of his influences.
"I got a call from Steve Smith — you know, Steve Smith from JOURNEY — one day, and he said to me, 'I just listened to VANILLA FUDGE's 'Renaissance' album, and what I heard on there was everything John Bonham ever did.' I said, 'Oh, thank you, Steve. I really appreciate it.'
"Drummers are like a different kind of breed — we all take from each other," he continued. "John Bonham did stuff I did because I was around before him. He used to listen to VANILLA FUDGE records. I used to listen to Max Roach and Joe Morello. I listened to Ginger Baker. I listened to this one, I listened to that one.
"When [LED ZEPPELIN] came on tour with [VANILLA FUDGE], I got him his drum set. I've got a picture of my drum set and his drum set, and it was the same drum set, which were big, oversized drums. I started that fad with the Ludwig drum company back in 1968, and they toured with us at the end of '68. When he saw my drum set — he had a little 22 bass drum. I had a 26 bass drum. I had a big tom in the middle and big toms on the side, a big, fat snare drum. And when he saw that, he said, 'Man, can you help me get a deal with Ludwig?' So I called Ludwig and said, 'Hey, I have this new band opening up for us, this guy John Bonham. I think they're gonna be big.' Now I say it's an understatement of five decades. So with that, they gave him the same set as mine. We had two blond maple kits — double bass drums even he had. And we did one tour in '69 with both those drum sets. I often wondered how silly it was when they went on, he had his double-bass drum set, and I went on, and I had mine. They took his off and they put mine on. But the audiences probably said, 'Why did they take that drum set off and they put it back on again?' It was the same exact drum set. After that tour, Robert [Plant] and Jimmy [Page] told him it was too busy with two bass drums: 'Take one away.' When he took one away, the LED ZEPPELIN drum set was born. So that's the story.
"But I've had this kind of drum sound ever since the beginning of my career with VANILLA FUDGE," Carmine added. "ZEPPELIN worked with the same engineers that I worked with — like, back in the day, Andy Johns was a tremendous engineer that helped develop that drum sound. But Jimmy Page had it in his head what the drum sound would be like. It was mostly ambient drum sound, using big rooms and a couple of mics, instead of everything mic'ed.
"My whole drum sound, ever since VANILLA FUDGE days, has been based on ambient room mics. And that's what Bonzo's drum sound was based on."
Back in 2014, Carmine said that he would love to play with a reunited LED ZEPPELIN, claiming that he is a better fit to replace Bonham than is John's son Jason.
"Everybody in that band there is legendary… They're old school and legendary. Jason isn't legendary, and he's not old school," Appice explained to the "Totally Driven Radio" podcast. "He's John Bonham's son, but he don't play like John Bonham. He plays more… He plays like him. He's not John. He's got that name, but he's not John Bonham. I'm not John Bonham either, but I think my style might be close, 'cause I came first, and John listened to stuff I did and did it his own way. And we took 'em on their first tour. It's very close-sounding stuff in feel."
Carmine previously said that Bonham took the bass drum triplets from the VANILLA FUDGE song "Ticket To Ride", telling Classic Rock Revisited in a 2006 interview: "When I first heard John Bonham do that triplet thing on the bass drum, I went up to him and said, 'John, that is amazing. I have to admit that I took that from you.' He looked at me and said, 'What are you talking about? I took that from you!' I replied, 'I don't do that. You couldn't have taken it from me.' He proceeded to tell me where I did actually do that on the first VANILLA FUDGE record and he was right. I only did it for a moment on that album and he took it and made something bigger and better out of it."
Last month, VANILLA FUDGE released a remastered version of its cover of LED ZEPPELIN's "Immigrant Song" via Golden Robot Records.