5 Drummerszone artists - John Bonham

John Bonham
* May 31, 1948 † September 25, 1980
United Kingdom
John Henry Bonham (named after his grandfather) was born on May 31, 1948 in Redditch, Worcestershire UK as the first son of parents Jack and Joan Bonham. After 26 hours of labour, baby John's heartbeat had stopped and the drunken doctor on duty had left. Thankfully, the nurse had quickly called another doctor who managed to revive him. The nurse said, "it was a miracle".

As a boy, John "Bonzo" Bonham would bang on his mother's pots and pans. He would often tie a wire around a coffee tin, and use it as a snare drum.

John Bonham got his first drum at age 10, and soon there after got his first drum kit. It was a second hand kit that his dad picked up for him, but he treated it like his baby. Bonham often said that mistreating your drum kit is just one step below child abuse. His first band came right out of high school when he played with Terry Web and the Spiders. He hadn't quite got that hard style that he became known for at that time.

Describing the style of John Bonham's drumming instantly conjurs up visions of the thunderous power he created. His contributions to rock music were revolutionary, and his talent unmatched and irreplaceable.

Later, John Bonham would play with many local bands like, The Nicky James Movement, A Way Of Life, and Steve Brett and the Mavericks. At age 18, he met his future wife, Pat. Pat was reluctant to marry him because she felt that he may not make it in the business.

However, Bonzo continued to assure her that he would make it. Soon there after, he met a young singer named Robert Plant, and they worked in a group together called The Band of Joy.

The band soon broke up, and Bonzo left to play elsewhere. One night, he was approached by a guitarist by the name of Jimmy Page. Jimmy had recruited Robert Plant for his new band, who were at first called The New Yardbirds, and Robert had told Jimmy of John. John agreed to come into the band. Then, The New Yardbirds were formed, and upon a statement made by The Who's Keith Moon that "You'll go over like a Lead Zeppelin", they changed their name to Led Zeppelin.

Live performances truly showcased his abilities during the numerous improvised jams throughout every concert and of course his famous "Moby Dick" drum solo; reaching a half-hour in length at times!

Immitators are usually left frustrated, since John Bonham made it look so easy - not only in his playing but also in the incredible drum sound he acheived. His legendary right foot (on his bass pedal) and lightning-fast triplets were his instant trademark. He later refined his style from the hard skin-bashing approach to a more delicate wrist controlled one - which produced an even more powerful & louder sound with less effort.

On September 24, 1980, Bonzo went out on a drinking fest. He had always been known as a drinker, but this night would be too much for even him to handle. He had 40 shots of vodka over a four hour period. He got in a cab, and went to Jimmy Page's country home, where one of Zeppelin's roadies layed him to bed.

During the night, John Bonham vomitted while unconscious, and choked on his vomit. Bassist John Paul Jones found him the next morning, September 25, in his bed, not breathing. The funeral was held on October 10, and the band officially broke up in December. The others would go on to great solo careers, but they would never know just how far Zeppelin would have gone. John left behind his wife Pat, son Jason, and daughter Zoe.

Jason Bonham proudly continues the tradition. Zoe also has a strong interest in music and is experimenting with her own original material. John's sister Deborah is a highly acclaimed & talented singer.

In 1994, Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, and they recieved the lifetime achievement award from the American Music Awards in 1995. At both occasions, Jason Bonham accepted for his father.

"I remember John walking on and starting to play, and my mouth sort of dropped open in disbelief at the power of the playing coming across the stage - and the technique! I've never, ever seen another drummer play quite the way he did."
- Cozy Powell