Many people consider John “Bonzo” Bonham the greatest rock drummer ever – who am I to argue – and any discussion of his almighty skills would start with the booming, echoey, thunderous sound he constantly generated (cue the opening of ‘When The Levee Breaks’). This song, however, is different. On this one, Bonham plays the Purdie Shuffle. The what, you ask? The Purdie Shuffle is so named for being created by Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, a renowned funk and jazz session player who developed a drumbeat so distinct it became his namesake trademark. You’ll hear it on Steely Dan’s ‘Babylon Sisters’ and ‘Home At Last,’ for instance, as played by Purdie himself, as well as on ‘Rosanna’ by Jeff Porcaro of Toto. Here, from the massive cymbal crash on which the song opens, you know Bonham’s up to something unusual, and that swinging groove uniquely carries all the way through one of Led Zep’s last late-period hits – in fact their final single before breaking up in 1980 – well, all the way to 2:25 when the parade leader’s whistle, also played by Bonham (can one actually ‘play’ a whistle?), interrupts the song and introduces the even more peculiar samba-style piano and marimba breakdown that runs a little over a minute, before his shuffling duly resumes again at 3:43. Yes, as another fairly well known Zeppelin tune once said, there are two paths you can go by, and for this trip Bonzo chose to shuffle on.
Bernard “Pretty” Purdie
Isolated drum track
DuckJune 7, 2018 12:03 pm
Led Zeppelin – They make me shaved and confused….
Jules J.June 8, 2018 11:54 am
One of my favorites songs. I’ve listened to Fool in the Rain a thousand times, but after reading your comments and focusing on Bonham, it’s a completely different experience. And learning about the Purdie and the shuffle, pretty cool. Well done!
Mark ZuckerJune 17, 2018 1:16 pm
John Bonhamâ€™s place in the drummers pantheon continues to escalate since his death. We all know he was a monster while He was still alive and recording drum tracks as diverse as: Good Times Bad Times, Dâ€™yer Makr, Nobodyâ€™s Fault But Mine and Fool in the Rain. A fun exercise is to put together your own list of â€œ10 most diverse songsâ€ that Bonham played. Luckily we have the technology to have each Classic broken down on YouTube my many drummers. (Canâ€™t tell you how many times Iâ€™ve watched the solo at the end of Rock n Roll and still canâ€™t do it justice).
Your article on Fool In The Rain is spot on. To really appreciate the genius of Bonzo, you have to listen to the drum track solo. When he first transitions to the ride, itâ€™s astkunding. As is the end of the song assault on the snare that fuses swing with Latin. Great article – another great shuffle song is: â€œAsiaâ€ featuring Jeff Porcaro