Transcriptions
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John BonhamThis John Bonham drum transcription of "When The Levee Breaks" comes from the Led Zeppelin IV album.

"When the Levee Breaks" is a blues song written and first recorded by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie (husband and wife) in 1929, as a reaction to the upheaval caused by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.

Led Zeppelin recorded their version as the last song on their fourth album released in 1971. The lyrics in Led Zeppelin's version were only partially based on the original 1929 recording.

Bonham's drum performance was recorded by engineer Andy Johns, who place Bonham and a brand new drumkit at the bottom of a stairwell at Headley Grange. The drums were recorded using two Beyerdynamic M160 microphones at the top of the stairs, giving the distinctive resonant yet slightly muffled sound. In the Rolling Stones' mobile studio, Johns compressed the drum sound through two channels and added echo via Jimmy Page's Binson echo unit. The opening drum break has long been a popular HipHop and dance music sample.



John Kerr

John Kerr is a freelance drummer and drumset instructor & clinician from Boston, MA.

As an educator and endorser for Vater Percussion, John has had a number of his drum transcriptions published in Modern Drummer magazine. To learn more about John or to arrange private drum lessons, visit his website at www.johnkerr.net.


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