Born on this day in 1948, John Henry Bonham. Best known as the drummer of Led Zeppelin, Bonham was esteemed for his speed, power, fast right foot, distinctive sound, and “feel” for the groove, (he was in fact a soul drummer). The swing and swagger were his alone.
John Bonham first learned to play drums at the age of five, making a drum kit out of containers and coffee tins. He received his first proper drum kit from his father when he was fifteen.
In 1968, ace session guitarist and Yardbird Jimmy Page was plotting to form the ultimate rock band and had already lined-up Plant as the singer, who in turn recommended Bonham. The drummer was initially reluctant to join as he was also receiving lucrative offers from established artists such as Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe.
Fast forward to what are now considered nine classic rock albums and we have the biggest group in the world, breaking records set by The Beatles in the 60’s – Led Zeppelin were unstoppable, scoring #1 albums and selling out the biggest stadium shows in the U.S.
Bonham’s now legendary drum solo “Moby Dick” (first entitled ‘Pat’s Delight’ after his wife) was a highlight of their 3-hour live shows. “Moby Dick” would often last for half an hour and regularly featured the use of Bonham’s bare hands to achieve different sound effects.
On 24 September 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 drank four quadruple vodkas, continuing to drink heavily during rehearsals. The band retired to guitarist’s Page’s house near Windsor, where, after midnight, Bonham had fallen asleep, having been taken to bed and placed on his side. Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones found him dead the next afternoon (Bonham had choked on his own vomit). He was 32 years old.
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