John Bonham biography
John Henry Bonham was born May 31, 1948 at Redditch Hospital, Worcestershire. 26 hours later in severe labor pains. And then the boy's heart stopped beating. The nurse ran to look for a doctor, but the doctor was drunk and she had to look for another doctor who saved the child's life. "It's a miracle!" the nurse said. But it was a double miracle, because the boy was to become a drummer for Led Zeppelin in the future. Drunkenness and cardiac arrest played a role not only in the birth of Bonham. Bonham died while heavily intoxicated when his heart stopped. But before that it was still very, very far away, but for now the born boy was making heart-rending cries 12 miles south of Birmingham, which in fact was his first attempt to stun the world.
The child grew up and began to show great interest in everything around him. He was especially interested in things that were capable of making noise. Mama Bonzo's mugs and pots, empty coffee cans were used - in general, everything that the young drummer could reach.
In the end, John managed to convince his mother, and when he was 10 years old, she bought his son his first real drum. But the father was not long in coming. A little later, he brought home a complete set of drums. True, the instruments were well-maintained and slightly worn, but for John they were a real treasure. The boy's addiction to music was so strong that he could not live a day without playing the drums.
When John left school, Ringo Starr was already a star, and his playing was the envy of all English youth who had drum kits. Like many other young people, Bonzo began to make his first attempts to speak to the public. He played with Terry Webb and The Spiders, wearing a purple jacket and tie, with his hair slicked back. But then his game was not yet as loud and controlled as it became a few years later.
As in the case of Robert Plant, John's parents urged their son to give up his hobby and take up a "real" job. His father was a construction carpenter, and John sometimes helped him with his work, temporarily changing drumsticks for a hammer. But he loved music, and nothing else could make him so happy, and so John continued to play in local bands: The Nicky James Movement, A Way of Life, Steve Brett and The Mavericks.
At the age of 18, he met his love and future wife, Pat. She was balanced enough to think twice before marrying someone, especially a man whose future could promise a poor life rather than loud fame. But Bonham was more persistent. “It's only a matter of time,” he told Pat. “I can get my way if you believe in me.” And oddly enough, she didn't leave John. They moved into a 15-foot trailer, where they began to live together. Things didn't always go well for him, and John promised Pat that if things didn't work out, he would quit. But these were empty words, since both knew that he would not give up his occupation.
When Bonzo was the drummer for The Nicky James Movement, the band didn't have enough money not only for food, but even for the instruments they played. One day, after the end of a performance, their instruments were confiscated due to late payments. “You can't play good music like that,” John said to himself. But he had no other choice and was incredibly loyal to the people who let him play with them. He loved being part of a band, a feeling that never left him throughout his life with Led Zeppelin. And even in that pre-Zeppelin period, glory began to surround Bonham. "He's the best drummer in England," people said. "He plays so loudly that you can hardly hear your own thoughts...". "He punched through the skin of more drums in a week than most drummers don't do in a lifetime."
But fame also had a downside - because of the reputation of a loud drummer, no one else wanted to work with him. “I just played my way and got blacklisted in Birmingham. "You're too loud! they said. “There is no future in your game.” Now it looks like you can't play loud enough," Bonham laughed.
Over time, his game became more and more perfect. And although John remained the band's drummer, he craved the same attention from the public as the musicians who played ahead of him on stage, especially the kind he saw with other drummers. Bonham admired and envied Ginger Baker, who played in the Graham Bond Organization and never allowed himself to be overshadowed by a group of strong musicians Bond and Jack Bruce. "That's how I want it to be," Bonzo grumbled, "as an equal member of the band, not as someone who keeps the beat behind the musicians in front."
Later, when Cream - Fresh Cream was released in 1967 with a Ginger Baker - Toad solo headlining them, John became even more determined to start the path of a great star. In the same year, he joined The Band Of Joy, in which the then 19-year-old Robert Plant, his school friend with a very unusual vocal, sang. At first it was a cover band. Within two years, they began to strive to develop their own sound, based on rhythm and blues, as well as music coming from the western shores of America. In January, The Band Of Joy played regular London gigs at The Middle Earth. But despite their aspirations to be great, the band failed and eventually disbanded in May 1968.
Robert Plant went to seek his fortune in a band called Hobstweedle and John took a short break. But closer to his birthday, he was without money, and Bonzo had to go on tour in England with Tim Rose. Soon he received an invitation to play with Joe Cocker.
At this time, the tragedy played out not only with The Band Of Joy, but also with another team called The Yardbirds, which had already managed to release the entire Little Games album in August 1967 and tour with performances in the United States. On June 22, 1968, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty left the band. In August, the band's guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist Chris Dreja, and former Yardbirds manager Peter Grant met with Robert Plant. At this time, B. J. Wilson of the Procol Harum team, with whom Page played on one of the Joe Cocker sessions, and an unknown Paul Francis (Paul Francis) were strongly recommended for the place of the drummer in the group.
After visiting Page's home in Pangburn, Plant received an offer to take the lead vocalist position in the new Yardbirds lineup. In place of the bassist, who left the group, Page invited John Paul Jones. And in the same month, John Bonham, on the recommendation of Plant, became the last member of The Yardbirds.
In September 1968, Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham's band rehearsed for the first time at Gerrard Street in London. And after them - a ten-day tour, which began in Copenhagen. On posters, they referred to themselves as The New Yardbirds. At the end of the month, it was decided to change the name of the group. Names such as The Mad Dogs, The Mad Boys and The Whoopie Cushions have been proposed. Still, Page and manager Peter Grant returned to Keith Moon's Lead Zeppelin line.
Once, back in 1937, the airship Hinderburg crashed at the Naval Air Station in Lakerhurst in New Jersey after a transatlantic flight. Keith Moon once remembered the 30th anniversary of this event: when Page wanted to create a group back in 1967, Moon said that the group would fall apart like a "lead airship". And now, a year later, the phrase "lead airship" was chosen as the new name of the group. The letter "a" was dropped from the word "Lead" to make it easier for the American audience to understand. Thus, The New Yardbirds turned into Led Zeppelin and began their stellar journey.
John Paul Jones, John Bonham, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant
In 1972, Bonham, along with his wife and two children, Zoe (Zoe) and Jason (Jason) moved to live on a farm. “I never farmed,” he said. “I wasn’t even looking for a farm, just a house with some land. But when I saw the place, something clicked inside, and I bought it back in '72."
Away from home, John was "constantly terribly nervous". This tension was observed only immediately before the performance itself. "But as soon as we started playing Rock and Roll, I felt good," Bonzo explained. John wasn't the only one in the band who got nervous before gigs. “We each had our own activities before going out, like walking back and forth or smoking a cigarette.”
In his interviews, John did not like to talk too much about his daughter and son. In 1970, Bonzo is known to have given Jason a small beginner's Japanese drum kit that included a 14-inch bass drum. Jason once said that his father repeatedly woke him up in the middle of the night and called him downstairs to play for John's friends - rock stars like Jeff Beck, or members of Yes, Bad Company and Emerson Lake & Palmer. “After a few of these late-night performances, I started getting my first paycheck—a much-needed day off from school.”
Bonzo was repeatedly approached with questions about how he manages to play so well and if he has any special technique, to which Bonham replied: “Technique? Damn, what are you talking about?" And, raising his hand up, he said: “Here is my technique,” and his hand fell down with force. "Hand on the drum - that's how, hand on the drum," said John.
"I'm not trying to be a superstar," he continued. “I'm just doing my part like one-fourth Led Zeppelin. When I play solo, I don't even think about the drummers who are looking at me. I'm not trying to impress people who play drums. I play for people. I'm not trying to do amazing tempo changes or make people look at me. I just can't do that - it would detract from the essence of Jimmy's guitar and Robert's voice. John Paul and I create a rich back set - that's what we do."
John revealed in 1975 that he often used recordings to work on his solos. “We keep a record of every performance and that comes in very handy later on, especially for my drum solo, because then I can hear what comes out best,” he shared. His 20- and 30-minute solos sounded different at each concert.
On November 11, 1971, Led Zeppelin began their UK tour in Newcastle. Bonham was then 23 years old. Tickets for the concert were sold out even before the official announcement of the tour. For the first time, 4 symbols appeared on the stage equipment of zeppelins. The fourth album of the group with these signs was released the very next day, and they already started talking about it in advance that it would go platinum. Bonzo's symbol was a rune of three connected rings. Plant commented on the symbol's meaning, "A trilogy: a man, a woman, and a child," but was quick to add that in Pittsburgh they discovered that "it was also the emblem of Ballantine beer." Page responded that Bonham's symbol was "found in a book of runes. Bonzo just picked it because he liked it." Perhaps John's choice fell on the rune because the rune looked like a schematic representation of drums.
John celebrated his 25th birthday right on stage: on May 31, 1973, the band performed at the Los Angeles Forum in California as part of the 9th American tour. The evening began with a touching performance of "Happy Birthday" by Robert Plant. According to eyewitnesses, Bonham returned to the Continental Hyatt House after the concert and was overcome with laughter, as it was close to where Led Zeppelin had stopped on their first trip to America. At this point, sales of Houses of the Holy were stunning, and Led Zeppelin was considered the No. 1 band in the world. In the lobby of the hotel, a nervous car salesman handed him the keys to the hot horse, and an enthusiastic Bonham took off through the streets, pulling out onto the Sunset Strip. When John was stopped by the police for speeding, he calmly opened the hood of a beautiful shiny new car and called the police to look at its engine. This made an impression on the police, and they let him go, saying in the end: "Don't let this happen again!" This day, or rather night, ended with a fun feast with a giant cake and, of course, an edible battle in Laurel Canyon, in which George Harrison took part. A little later, Bonzo threw George into the pool, followed by the Beatle's ex-wife, Patti Boyd. In the end, everyone, except for Peter Grant, ended up in the water. Bonzo has never had such a chic holiday. But in fact, year by year his birthday became more and more cheerful.
On July 7, 1980, Bonham took to the stage for the last time in his life - it was the final concert of the European tour, which was held at the Eissporthalle in Berlin, Germany. This day coincided with the 12th anniversary of the last concert in the life of The Yardbirds. The last thing the Zeppelins played that day was Whole Lotta Love, an encore.
Peter Grant has scheduled the next American tour. Plant was hardly persuaded to go, as America was beginning to frighten him. The fact is that in July 1977, when the group made an 11-tour in this country, 3 days after the terrible beating of an employee of the Oakland Coliseum concert hall, which was started by Bonzo and finished by Grant, Plant's son Karak suddenly died. In the aftermath of the event, promoter Bill Graham said he hoped the band would never play in the US again. Ironically, it turned out that the concert on July 24, 1977 really became their last in America.
On September 24, 1980, on the way to Bray Studios, where the last rehearsals of Led Zeppelin were to take place before performing in America, John Bonham drove into a pub to have a couple of buns and drink vodka. During the rehearsal, he drank 2-3 more large portions of alcohol to keep himself in a good mood. He had recently been recovering from heroin addiction and was often depressed. Alcohol was at that time the only thing that helped him feel good. The group then went to Page's house, where they celebrated rehearsal, with Bonham celebrating "two more drinks every hour." Around midnight, he collapsed on the sofa, and Jimmy's assistant, Rick Hobbs, helped lead him to the guest bedroom.
On September 25, 1980, John Bonham was found dead in his bedroom. Page, Plant, and Jones got ready to drive to the next rehearsal, but no one saw Bonzo. Thinking he was still asleep, Plante sent his assistant, Benji LeFevre, to see what Bonzo was doing. What he saw was horrific: Bonham was lying on his back in a puddle of vomit. Jones called an ambulance, but the drummer was dead for several hours. The whole group was shocked by what had happened. Plant went to console Bonzo's wife and children. Jones went home to his family. And as the news shattered the country, Jimmy watched a group of fans keep a quiet watch outside his house. Zeppelin fans did not yet know what had happened, as well as what tragedy awaited them ahead with the death of John.
Naturally, the tour of America was cancelled.
On December 2, 1980, the band released a statement to the press: "We want everyone to know that the loss of our friend and deep respect for his family, as well as the sense of former integrity and harmony in the band and our manager, led us to the decision to end the band. Led Zeppelin.