CARMINE APPICE Knows For A 'Fact' That JOHN BONHAM Was Influenced By His Drumming

May 28, 2024

In a new interview with RadioBypass, legendary drummer Carmine Appice was asked if he thinks LED ZEPPELIN's John Bonham "picked up" any "tricks" from him when ZEPPELIN opened for VANILLA FUDGE early in the latter band's career. Carmine responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I know [it] as a fact. [John] were friends, and he told me that I was his idol. You've gotta understand this. Nobody could really get this now. When [LED ZEPPELIN] came over [to the U.S. for the first time], nobody knew them. They opened up for VANILLA FUDGE. They were THE NEW YARDBIRDS, and then they changed the name to LED ZEPPELIN [after THE WHO drummer] Keith Moon said, 'Oh, you go down like a lead zeppelin,' which means down. It's hard to believe now that nobody knew Robert Plant, nobody knew John Bonham. They were brand new kids — younger than us — and [John] told me he'd been listening to my records."

Repeating the claim that one of Bonham's licks, a triplet bass drum motif used most prominently on "Good Times, Bad Times", the opening track on the first LED ZEPPELIN album, was inspired by something Carmine did on either the first VANILLA FUDGE LP or the "Renaissance" record, Appice said: "I told [John], I think [what] you're doing [on] 'Good Times, Bad Times'. I love it. It's fantastic.' He said he got it from me. I said, 'I don't even do that. What do you mean?' He showed me on one of my songs somewhere in my catalog, I did it once, and he just did it and repeated it. And then I was blown away. He loved my drum set. I got him the same set that I had. Exactly the same set… And we became friends. I used to do the spin like I do on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' and grab the cymbal. So he used to go, 'Hey…' He'd be playing one time. He'd go, 'Watch this.' He'd do the spin and grab the cymbal. And then when they became big, he was doing that. So people grabbed that from him and indirectly got it from me, like Tommy Lee [MÖTLEY CRÜE]. I saw him doing it when [MÖTLEY CRÜE] opened up for Ozzy [Osbourne], when I was [playing] with Ozzy. I said, 'Where'd you get that?' He goes, 'From John Bonham.' I said, 'Well, indirectly, you got it from me.' He goes, 'No way, dude. I got it from John Bonham.' 'Cause John Bonham was the guy. Then I showed him some videos of 'The Ed Sullivan Show' before ZEPPELIN came out as my proof, and he said, 'Wow, dude. I can't believe it.' I said, 'Look, things have to start somewhere.'"

Carmine added: "[John and I] were good friends. He would come to L.A. and I'd go hang with him, go to the gigs, get backstage, hang out with the guys. So when I see John Bonham [voted the] number one [drummer] in all the [polls], I feel good because he got a lot of his stuff from what I did.

"I saw a thing on the Internet where a girl was saying, 'The John Bonham triplets.' I did it before John Bonham, but I got it from Max Roach, the jazz drummer. So it's not John Bonham triplets, it ain't my triplets — it's just the triplet."

Last August, Carmine was asked by Marci Wiser of the 95.5 KLOS radio station what he thinks it is about his playing style that influenced so many other legendary rock drummers, including Neil Peart, Roger Taylor, Phil Collins and John Bohnam. He responded: "Well, basically, I've been around longer than those guys. And back in the day, when it was, like, '67, there were no monitor systems, there was no P.A.s hardly, so I used to have to really beat the drums to get the sound out. And then I said, 'I'm gonna get a big bass drum,' 'cause the bigger, the louder. So I got the bigger bass drum. Then THE RASCALS had Dino Danelli, who was kind of an influence on me… [And I thought], 'I'm gonna outdo him. I'm gonna get a 26-inch bass drum that I bought in the pawn shop. That was very loud. So when I got an endorsement, I got all big drums, very all oversized drums, and I had to hit 'em harder to get the sound best. I was playing harder than most drummers of the day. And by doing that, I had my own sound. It was a big fat drum sound played very heavy, very hard. And I did that outta necessity. I didn't sit down and go, 'I'm gonna create a new drum sound,' you know? And I did that outta necessity, and then people followed me to do that, like John Bonham. And then, as it went on, after CACTUS and BECK, BOGERT & APPICE, other people followed it."

He continued: "I saw an interview, a YouTube thing all about VAN HALEN's '1984', and Eddie [Van Halen] said, his favorite [CACTUS] song 'Parchman Farm' was the template for their song 'Hot For Teacher'. I've heard that before — Alex [Van Halen] told me — but I'd never seen it written down or shown in the video, and they showed the band, they played the song and they put what Eddie said on there, [his] comment. So that was pretty nice. It's just stuff like that. 'Cause we were pioneers. I was a pioneer in the drums. That song was the fastest double-bass drum shuffle that was recorded up to that date."

Back in November 2021, Appice discussed how Bonham's "Good Times, Bad Times" triplet bass drum motif was inspired by something he did. Carmine told the "Musicians On Couches Drinking Coffee" podcast: "What it was I heard [LED ZEPPELIN's debut] album. [LED ZEPPELIN and VANILLA FUDGE] had the same attorney, and they were on the same label. And my manager was connected to their manager, Peter Grant; they were both heavyweights. So when that album came out — before it came out — they gave us a copy and they said, 'We wanna put Jimmy Page's new band on with you guys.' We knew Jimmy Page; we used to do gigs with THE YARDBIRDS. So when I heard the record and I heard the triplet on 'Good Times, Bad Times', I said, 'Woah! What a foot on this guy. It's pretty amazing.' So on the very first gig that they played with us, I said to John, before the gig, I said, 'I love your foot on the record. It's unbelievable.' And he said, 'Thanks. I got that from you.' I said, 'You did. I don't remember doing that.' He said, 'Yeah, it's right on your VANILLA FUDGE record.' I said, 'Where is that?' Because in those days — still today, I don't play what I rehearse; I play whatever comes to me when I'm doing it. So I had done it somewhere on a record, so he pointed it out — I think it was on the 'Renaissance' record… And he said, 'So I just got that concept from what you did and then did what I did.' And I said, 'Wow.'"

Appice went on to say that he didn't feel comfortable bringing up his influence on Bonham in interviews for a long time due to the way the LED ZEPPELIN legend is credited with being an innovator who brought an unprecedented level of power, speed, and control to rock music, thereby setting the bar for all drummers coming after him.

"There was a time I couldn't really talk about this because ZEPPELIN was so big and people envisioned John Bonham like he was 'it,' he was God, and you can't talk about that he got something from you, 'cause he was God — God doesn't get anything from anybody," Carmine said. "And when I said it, people would say that I was crazy, I was egoing out, this and that. Then there was a book that came out called '[John Bonham:] A Thunder Of Drums'. When that came out, it told these stories and it told about when John Bonham came back from playing with VANILLA FUDGE, how gaga he was about meeting me. And he was hanging out with Cozy Powell, telling him the stories about hanging out with me. And they were both gaga about hanging out with me. I didn't know anything about that until this book came out. After that book came out, it told, with that being said, that he actually did listen to me and that I was an influence on him."

A 2017 blog post by Rain City Drummer, a blog dedicated to the art of drumming, attempted to get to the bottom of Appice's claim that Bonham lifted the lick from Carmine, apparently without any success.

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."

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 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."

VANILLA FUDGE released a collection of LED ZEPPELIN covers, "Vanilla Zeppelin", digitally in September 2022 via Golden Robot Records.

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