“Rock and Roll” Drum Transcription — John Bonham with Led Zeppelin

Posted on April 4, 2021

Another sleepy post this week: I don’t have much to add about this tune, I just wanted to get my interpretation down on paper, since (surprisingly) there aren’t many transcriptions of this solo out there.

The first one I found is kind of close, but the hertas are written as 16th note sextuplets, which doesn’t feel right to me at all (unless you execute a tempo change, which isn’t written in).

This one is written in double–time for no discernible reason. I also have no idea what’s going on with that first triplet.

The best one I found is from Robert Litten over at DrumsTheWorld.com, although the tempo marking is too fast, a few subdivisions toward the end sound off, and I don’t hear any swing on the record. Also, I can’t find the sheet music on the actual website, only on Pinterest. I’m guessing he left it off for a reason.

The only analysis I have to share is if you’re familiar with John Bonham then the two main licks in this solo should be recognizable: hertas and hand–to–foot triplets. Interestingly, the triplets sound like they’re played RLK, instead of Bonham’s usual lefthand lead (LRK).

As a bonus, I did the intro of the tune, since it still causes confusion amongst drummers to this day. I also included four bars of the groove before the solo because… why not?

The main riff is at 180, but the solo is somewhere around 125, give or take; the pulse is pretty loosey–goosey, and I prioritized the feel of how Bonham likely counted it over precise metronomic subdivisions. The story of this track is that the whole number began as an impromptu jam. If you listen closely, you can hear the reverb on Plant’s final lyric die–off rather abruptly. My guess is that the drum solo was recorded sometime after the rest of the song was tracked, and the band spliced the new tape in–between the vocals and the final chord. Bonham probably used some sort of placeholder until he had a proper chance to come up with something later.

Not much else to say. I really need to get the web work I’m doing all wrapped up. But hey, it’s April, which is the time of year that I first really got into Led Zeppelin.

Download PDF.

“Rock and Roll” on Songwhip.

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