John Bonham’s Ludwig Vistalite Black & White Candy Stripe Swirl drum kit used during his time with Led Zeppelin was originally given to music critic Chris Welch by Bonzo himself. The kit is one of the only drum sets ever owned outside of the Bonham estate.
Of the kit Welch said,
“I was just having a drink with John and he asked me if I wanted it. He was always very generous like that. He gave me the metal shell snare drum first, which was my favourite part of the kit, I used to play with it in a traditional jazz band. People were always pretty stunned when I turned up with it – they were impressed with its size, but intimidated at the same time. They’d expect to hear Led Zeppelin, not When The Saints Go Marching In!”
Welch wrote this book about John Bonham…
Here’s a few more photos of Bonham at home on the drum kit (you can see a few more parts on the left up against the wall)…
In 1998, Welch sold the kit to Phil Harris of Harris Hire Vintage Musical Instruments for £950 who used to rent it out. Welch said,
“I did want to keep the snare drum, but decided to sell the kit as a whole – it was just collecting dust in my garage. I was pleased that other bands would have the opportunity to use it.”
Here’s Mick Fleetwood,who some say acquired the kit from Harris before it was auctioned off on September 4, 2008.
Phil Harris discussed his time with the kit:
“It’s the equivalent of John Bonham’s stage kit – a 26″ bass drum, a 14″ rack, a 16″ floor and an enormous 20″ floor that’s so à la Bonham it’s unreal. It’s been used a lot, I hired it out to the Manic Street Preachers and Robbie Williams. When Robbie hired it, they set it up and put it in a studio on its own. Everyone stood around looking at it in awe of the presence of the late Mr. John Bonham“.
The estimated sale price was $50,000.