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While there’s certainly no shortage of Led Zeppelin covers available on the internet, too many of the tribute acts behind them stop short of properly dedicating themselves to replicating their musical heroes. Sure, there are people out there willing to perform the band’s songs while dressed as Transformers, in groups composed of child percussionists, or as soloists who can play every instrument on “Black Dog” at once, but even the most devoted cover artists, as we’ve learned in the past, don’t necessarily try to perform new versions of entire Zeppelin shows.
Not George Fludas, a drummer who’s created a YouTube channel where he covers all of John Bonham’s parts—including entire playthroughs of Zeppelin’s recorded live performances.
Rolling Stone spoke to Fludas about Bonhamology, a channel whose “About” section calls itself a destination for “thorough and comprehensive analysis and demonstrations of John Bonham’s masterful drumming,” from covers of “every album track [and] many ‘live’ performances” to “tutorials on Bonzo’s drum grooves and solos.”
Fludas, a 55-year-old dad from Chicago, is a jazz drummer by trade and a longtime Zeppelin fan who set out on his current path after buying the How The West Was Won live album when it was released in 2003. From there, he got “really into collecting the shows” and then taking “more of an analytical approach” that involved studying the evolution of Bonham’s playing over the years through released and bootlegged live recordings.
LED ZEPPELIN - FULL SHOW PLAY ALONG - OSAKA 9/29/71 - 50th ANN.
As he worked on learning and documenting his playing on YouTube, Fludas moved from posting studio covers to performing along to entire shows, some of which might run for “well over two hours.” He “doesn’t notate anything and just spends a couple weeks immersing himself in a given bootleg before attempting a cover,” Rolling Stone writes. “He then simply cues up the show and goes for it, adhering to a strict no-edits policy.”
So far, Fludas has played through an entire 2 hour, 13 minute show played by Zeppelin in Copenhagen in 1979. He’s worked through the band’s 1970 Royal Albert Hall gig. He’s performed its 1971 Osaka date.
As to why he goes to such lengths, Fludas says he’s drawn to “that childlike sense of dissociation with the rest of the world” that comes from getting lost in a musical performance. He’s also, quite understandably, eager to spread the gospel of Bonham by playing in his style.
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