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'I found it by mistake': How Glyn Johns helped showcase Led Zeppelin’s huge drum sound

Glyn Johns, who engineered Led Zeppelin's 1969 self-titled debut, basically stumbled upon a new way of recording drummer John Bonham - creating the dynamic stereo cadences that drive tracks like Communication Breakdown.

Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page produced the album, but it was a microphone switch by Johns - famous for his work, too, with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and the Who - that changed everything: In setting up multiple mics for Bonham, Johns accidentally had one of them directed to one side of the stereo mix. The rest of his performance was emanating from the middle.

"Half of the drums were coming out of the left, by mistake," Johns says in this Q&A. "And I thought: I wonder what it would sound like if I took the one in the middle, and put it on the other side. And there is was - the beginning of stereo drums."

Communication Breakdown was influential in other ways. Guitarist Johnny Ramone once said he developed his signature down-stroke style based on Page's riff. But everyone began to hear drums in a new way after Led Zeppelin arrived.

Not that Johns is ready to take too much credit: "I found it by mistake. Like anything good that's ever happened to me, really - it's been a fluke of some sort," he says. "So, I can't really take any credit for it, other than recognizing it."

From: Something Else! Reviews

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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

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November 21, 1968 - Robert becomes a father to a baby girl named Carmen Jane.
November 09, 1968 - Robert marries Maureen in London. Their reception is a performance at the Roundhouse in London
November xx, 1969 - Tempers flare over Atlantic in the UK wanting to release singles
November xx, 1969 - Recording for Led Zeppelin III begins at Olympic Studios in London
November xx, 1970 - Plans are in motion for a Yardbirds reunion
November 08, 1971 - Finally after much anticipation, Untitled is released
November xx, 1972 - Houses Of The Holy is mixed and completed
November 10, 1972 - Led Zeppelin sell out 120,000 tickets in one day
November xx, 1973 - Initial recordings for Physical Graffiti commences at Headley Grange
November 04, 1973 - Led Zeppelin finalize the purchase of Headley Grange to be their new corporate headquarters
November xx, 1974 - The band makes plans and rehearses for the tenth North American tour
November xx, 1975 - Led Zeppelin records Presence in a mere 18 days
November xx, 1976 - Led Zeppelin book into Ezyhire Studios to rehearse new material for an upcoming tour
November 04, 1976 - The Song Remains The Same movie premieres in Europe
November xx, 1977 - Jimmy dispells rumors of Led Zeppelin’s break up
November 06, 1978 - Led Zeppelin purchase and ship new gear to Polar Studios to begin work on a new album
November 10, 1979 - Led Zeppelin and their entire entourage attend an ABBA concert
November 07, 1980 - The band meets with Peter Grant to announce the retirement of Led Zeppelin
November 29, 1999 - The RIAA announced that Led Zeppelin were only the third act in music history to achieve four or more Diamond albums, a Diamond album being awarded for accredited sales of more than 10 million units in the US.
November 01, 2007 - An announcement was made that Jimmy Page had fractured his finger on his left hand after a fall in his garden and the reunion show would be postponed to December 10, 2007.
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