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John Bonham

John Bonham, Berlin, Germany, Jul. 19, 1970
John Bonham, July 19, 1970, Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, Germany
Vital Stats
Birth Name: John Henry Bonham
Born: May 31, 1948
Redditch, Worcestershire, England
Died: September 25, 1980
Clewer, Windsor, England
Occupation(s): Musician, Songwriter
Instrument(s): Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Associated Act(s): The Band Of Joy, Led Zeppelin

John Henry Bonham was born on May 31, 1948 at Redditch, Worcestershire. His parents were John Henry "Jacko" and Joan. He had two younger siblings, Mick (1951-2000) and Deborah (1962-).

As a toddler, he beat on his mum's pots and pans, signaling that he knew his future career plans at and early age. He received his first snare drum at the age of 10 and by 15 his father, Jacko, had purchased him a Red Sparkling Ludwig Drumkit.

At the age of 17, he married Pat (Phillips), whom he met at a dance at Kidderminster. They had two children, son Jason (1966-) and daughter Zoe (1975-)

Some bands John played in were Blue Star Trio (1963), Terry Webb and The Spiders (1963), The Senators (1964), A Way Of Life (1966, re-joined in 1967), Crawling King Snakes (w/ Robert Plant) (1966), The Nicky James Movement (1966), Steve Brett and the Mavericks (1967) and The Band Of Joy (1967). After the Band Of Joy broke up in May 1968, John Bonham accepted a position as the drummer in the backing band for Tim Rose for a UK tour then set up some gigs with Chris Farlowe, that eventually had to be cancelled so that the New Yardbirds could fulfill some Scandanavian dates in Sep. 1968.

In August 1968, upon recommendation by Robert Plant, Peter Grant sent out no less than 40 telegrams to Bonham and Jimmy Page & Peter Grant went to hear Bonham play at the Marquee Club in London before he accepted the position as drummer.

On Sep. 24, 1980, Bonham was picked up by Led Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray Studios for an upcoming tour of the U.S.; the band's first since 1977. During the journey Bonham had asked to stop for breakfast, where he downed four quadruple vodkas. He then continued to drink heavily when he arrived at the rehearsals. A halt was called to the rehearsals late in the evening and the band retired to Page's house, The Old Mill House in Clewer, Windsor. After midnight, Bonham had fallen asleep and was taken to bed and placed on his side. Benji LeFevre and John Paul Jones found him dead the next afternoon.

John Bonham was cremated and on 12 October 1980 interred at Rushock Parish Church, Worcestershire. His headstone reads: "Cherished memories of a loving husband and father, John Henry Bonham Who died Sept. 25th 1980. aged 32 years. He will always be remembered in our hearts, Goodnight my Love, God Bless."

Despite media rumors that drummers including Cozy Powell, Carmine Appice, Barriemore Barlow, Simon Kirke or Bev Bevan, among others, would join the group as his replacement, the remaining members decided to disband Led Zeppelin after Bonham's death. They issued a press statement on December 4, 1980, confirming that the band would not continue without its drummer. "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were." It was simply signed "Led Zeppelin".


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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

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December 16, 1968 - Zep plays Bath Pavilion for a mere £75.
December 26, 1968 - First American concert at the Coliseum in Denver, CO
December xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin are reported to have sold 5 million dollars worth of albums in the US
December 11, 1969 - Led Zeppelin are presented gold and platinum discs for their first two albums
December xx, 1970 - The band enters Island Studios to begin work on the fourth album
December xx, 1971 - The band plays a few low-key shows back in England
December 23, 1972 - The band break for Christmas holiday after a London gig
December xx, 1973 - John Paul Jones works on studio productions for Madeline Bell
December xx, 1973 - Joe Massot films Jimmy Page’s fantasy sequence at Loch Ness
December 19, 1974 - John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page jam with Bad Company at the Rainbow Theater
December 10, 1975 - Led Zeppelin play a 45-minute show with Norman Hale at Behan’s in Jersey
December xx, 1976 - Led Zeppelin rehearses for the 1977 tour
December 25, 1976 - It’s announced that Plant and Bonham will reunite with the Band of Joy for three shows in the new year
December xx, 1977 - The band minus Robert gather to discuss Led Zeppelin’s future plans
December xx, 1978 - The new album is completed quickly at Polar Studios and mixed at Jimmy’s Plumpton Studio
December xx, 1979 - John Bonham considers joining Paul McCartney’s Wings
December 29, 1979 - The band minus Jimmy Page attend the Paul McCartney And Wings Kampuchea befefit show
December 04, 1980 - Led Zeppelin issue the following statement not to carry on as a band: "We wish it to be known, that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the deep sense of harmony felt by ourselves and our manager have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."
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