When asked the question of who is the greatest rock band of all times, Led Zepplin and The Who would be on many top 10 lists.
When asked who was the greatest Rock and Roll drummer of all times, John Henry Bonham and Keith John Moon would be the top two on many lists.
The Rolling Stone readers poll of the best drummers of all time place Led Zepplin drummer John Henry Bonham at number one, and The Who drummer Keith John Moon at number two.
The two greatest rock and roll drummers of all times lived and died in very similar ways.
John Henry Bonham: 1948 – 1980
Born May 31, 1948 in Redditch, Worcestershire, England, John Henry Bonham was best known as the drummer of English rock band Led Zeppelin.
As a drummer Bonham was known for his speed, power, fast right foot, and distinctive sound. His famous drum solo, first entitled “Pat’s Delight,” later renamed “Moby Dick”, would often last for 30 minutes and regularly featured his use of bare hands to achieve different sound effects.
On September 24, 1980, Bonham was picked up by Led Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray Studios for an upcoming tour of the United States. During the journey, Bonham asked to stop for breakfast, where he drank sixteen shots of vodka. After a long day of drinking and rehearing he retired for the night with the rest of his band members at friends house. Bonham was found dead the next afternoon, at the age of 32.
The coroner’s inquest ruled the death accidental and stated that John Bonham had consumed forty shots of vodka in the twenty four hours before he died, which resulted in him vomiting and subsequently inhaling his vomit causing asphyxiation.
Keith John Moon: 1946 – 1978
Born August 23, 1946 in Wembley, Middlesex, England, Keith John Moon was best known for being the drummer of the English rock group The Who.
As a drummer Moon was known for his dramatic, suspenseful style with ambidextrous double bass drum work and wild cymbal crashes and washes. Keith Moon played on all The Who albums and singles from 1964 to 1978. The 1978 single “Who Are You” was released three weeks before his death.
In one of the sad but famous events of his life, Moon passed out on stage during a concert at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California in 1973 after taking a large mixture of horse tranquillizers and brandy. A member of the audience filled in for the remainder of the concert.
On September 7, 1978, Keith Moon died in London, at the age of 32. The cause of death was a massive overdose of a sedative he had been prescribed to alleviate his alcohol
withdrawal symptoms as he tried to dry out on his own.
Parallel lives with tragic endings
A chilling similarity between Led Zeppelin and The Who is that both groups had drummers that could be described using the same sentence, “Considered one best drummers of all time, died in his prime at the age of 32 of substance abuse.”