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Celebration Days Led Zeppelin UK Convention – 30 years gone:

30 years ago this week, on Saturday May 23 and Sunday May 24 1992, Andy Adams and myself co presented Celebration Days – the first ever UK Led Zeppelin Convention.

I had been thinking about such an event since the publication a year earlier of my book Led Zeppelin A Celebration.

As had Andy Adams – a massive UK Zep Collector who had helped me considerably with the book’s research. In 1990 on one of my visits to Andy in Canvey Island we talked about the idea of a UK Convention. The yardstick had been created by the staging of a US event in 1988 – this had been organised at the Meadowlands Hotel in New Jersey in Washington DC by Brian Knapp -another major Zep memorabilia collector who I had been in touch with for some years. I was also aware of a David Bowie event BowiCon that had been staged in the US.

Andy was at the time publishing his excellent Zep mag Early Days and Latter Days and was a regular stall holder at Record Fairs. Initially he was approached to stage a mini Zep Convention within a major London Record Fair. We both felt this would not fulfill the potential for the type of event we wanted to stage.

So in the autumn of 1991, Andy and I formulated a plan for what we felt was needed to stage a Led Zeppelin Convention. We both agreed it required two days and we aimed for a central London venue and the following January we made a visit to London to look at perspective venues. After looking at three potential venues we selected the Royal National Hotel in Euston. By then we had also enlisted the help of some key players in the UK Zep community. We set up the Celebration Days Executive made up of Gary Foy, Mark Harrison Tim Davies, Rikky Rooksby, Alan Cousins, Howard Mylett and Luis Rey. In early January, Andy and I set up an initial meeting at the hotel which was attended by most of the above.

I have to say that Andy’s enthusiasm during this period was absolutely inspirational – his vision of what we could achieve was right in line with mine and it was an absolute pleasure working with him. There were many ups and downs ahead and difficult moments that we faced together – it certainly wasn’t all plain sailing but Andy’s affable stance and belief always got us through.

The hotel, with it’s various exhibition rooms looked ideal and we put a deposit down to secure it for three days in May – Friday May 22, Saturday May 23 and Sunday 24. The Friday would be a setting up day and a press launch at night – the Saturday and Sunday the actual Convention days. Co-incidentally, the dates matched the second weekend of Earls Court shows of 17 previously – we used this as a tag on the advertising posters with the original ‘Zeppelin May Daze’ Melody Maker headline. We also coined the tag line ‘The Celebration Continues..’

It’s incredible to think back in these social media days, that most of the organising of the Convention was done by letter or phone – in fact I spent a considerable amount of time on the phone during the months leading up to it.

We set about working out who could we get on board as a guest speakers. I already had a couple in mind and one of them was Mick Hinton – John Bonham’s drum roadie.

In mid-September 1991, I went on a book tour of radio stations to promote the A Celebration book . The last station we went to was BBC Radio Nottingham. To my surprise, John Bonham’s legendary roadie Mick Hinton was at the station. He had heard a trailer for the show and as he lived locally, decided to come and meet me. I had not seen or heard from him since about 1981 when I saw him in the Swan Song office.

We did the interview together and afterwards, I told him of a plan I had to stage a Led Zeppelin Convention in London and invited him to be a guest speaker.

In February 1992 when I went to interview him for  inclusion in the then in progress TBL 7. By then I had decided to use the Convention platform to bring back the TBL magazine – yes issue 7 was going to appear after an eleven year absence.

I based much of the content on it being an update to the A Celebration book. Reaction to the book had been very encouraging. I had a lot of correspondence about the text and it was evident that more information was surfacing about a variety of topics I had presented in the book. So began the task to update each chapter with the additional material I had now amassed. It was this text that formed the bulk of the pages that would evolve during early 1992 as TBL issue 7.

The updated A Celebration chapter text for issue 7 was complemented by a couple of key interviews. One was with the aforementioned Mick. I travelled to Nottingham in Februarys to interview him. During my time with him a fair few cans of Tenants extra strong lager went down during that interview. So much so, that on the way back I slept though the Bedford stop and ended up in London!

I have to say though, that Mr Hinton gave very good copy – his interview was most illuminating and set the tone for many subsequent interviews I would conduct for the TBL magazine.

Mick had also put me back in touch with Phil Carlo – Phil had been road manager for Bad Company and had worked on Zep’s over Europe tour in 1980 where I first met him. He later worked with Jimmy in The Firm and Outrider era. I interviewed Phil on the phone in a lunch break at the Our Price record shop I managed – not the first or final instance of me using the shop as an additional TBL hub! Phil also gave an excellent interview and Andy and I also arranged for him to be another guest speaker at the LZ Convention. By and large, that arrangement worked well.

Mick proved to be a very colourful character at the Convention and went down a storm at the Guest Speaker forum we staged on the Saturday afternoon. However, he was very difficult to deal with – without going into detail (it will all be in the memoirs!), he did cause us some considerable stress with some very unreasonable demands. I can laugh about it now ( though I did anything but on the Saturday morning of the event when he was being particularly aggressive) and in a lot of ways, he did bring the excessive on the road aspect of Zep right to the forefront of the Convention – there’s no doubt a lot of fans found him wonderfully entertaining.

Less controversial, though equally as enlightening were the additions of Melody Maker writers Chris Welch and Chris Charlesworth as guest speakers.

Andy did a great job in co-ordinating the stall holders and we had Brian Knapp and Rick Barrett over from the States – both their stalls were a magnet for fans with a host of rare items on offer. Bob Walker publisher of the Hot Wacks and publications also came over as did author Robert Godwin.

Other stalls included Mark Archer with his excellent UK Zep mag Wearing And Tearing , Andy’s Early Days and Latter Days mag, the TBL stall selling the newly published issue 7, Luis Rey selling his Led Zeppelin Live book, Howard Mylett who had just self published a new Zep photo book From the Archives,  Tim Tirelli’s Oh Jimmy fanzine, Omnibus Press with a selection of their Zep titles including my A Celebration book , Diane Bettle’s Nirvana Robert Plant fanzine  Richard MacKay’s Yardbirds World, Pink Floyd’s The Amazing Pudding mag and the late Mick Burnett’s Spirit Of Rush mag.

We launched the event at the Victoria Record Fair in March and an advert in Record Collector, initial ticket sales were brisk. It was evident we were attracting fans from around the globe and it was all getting very exciting.

I did keep all the respective management of the former members up to date with what we were doing. I was also in touch with Peter Grant on the phone and there was a possibility that he would make an appearance at some point. In the end this fell through – however he did agree to an interview with me, which took place at his Eastbourne home the next year.

We had some great media support from the likes of Kerrang, Q plus radio coverage on LBC and a fair few other stations.

There was also an official programme written and compiled by Andy and myself and designed and printed by Chris Loydall. I also managed to get the legendary DJ and big Zep supporter Alan Freeman – yes old Fluff himself, to write the intro. He actually rang our house the night before the event to check everything was going well -I was already in London so the good lady Janet answered the phone and we still laugh about how Fluff chatted in his usual over the top manner introducing himself with the classic ”Hello M’Darling” line.

On the merchandising front, we also decided to have a souvenir T shirt which Tim Davies helped design. A bold design white on back – it looked great though we did over order somewhat. After the Convention a fair few lined my loft though eventually we sold them all – notably in Belfast at Simply Led’s 30th anniversary concert at the Ulster Hall. Over the Convention weekend two delightful volunteers helped us man the stall.

It’s worth noting that after some fallow years in the 1980s, Led Zep’s stock at the time was well on the increase. This had been considerably boosted by the 1990 Remasters releases. It wasn’t quite like the level it is now but we knew they were popular enough to create a lot of interest. We were quietly confident we would present something that did justice to their legacy. Andy and I did consider having a tribute band though there were was not many on the circuit then. The issue of a live attraction was duly fulfilled when Deborah Bonham’s management got in touch to say her and her band would love to appear.

This proved to be a crucial addition to the weekend as it brought with it a real credibility to the event. The fact that Deb bought a host of family members along too gave the two days a real Bonham aura – more on that later.

One thing we really wanted to showcase was rare Led Zep film footage. At considerable expense, Andy and I hired a huge screen – all worth it as the rolling footage we showed over the weekend was a huge hit with attendees.

We also premiered some then unseen footage notably the then little seen Tous En Scene 1969 TV appearance and the clip of Jimmy Page performing White Summer in 1970 on the Julie Felix BBC TV show.

Of course these days clips such as these are readily viewed at the click of a YouTube link online, back then they were considered the holy grail amongst fans. We also had a very good cut of the Knebworth August 11 footage,some amazing footage of Jimmy Page performing at the ARMS concert at Cow Palace in 1983 and plenty of cine film – all of which proved to be hugely popular over the two days.

We also decided to stage something of a Zep museum in one of the rooms and Andy and I brought a bulk of our memorabilia to put on show . Gary hired a van to take my stuff down and on the Thursday night and Andy and his mate Laurence plus Gary and myself with help from one or two others set it all up finally finishing around 3am. We also had items donated by Brian Knapp and a few others including a shirt Jimmy wore on the Over Europe 1980 tour and various tour jackets and T.shirts.

I am still immensely proud of how that museum looked – years before any V and A Pink Floyd type exhibition existed, we created something really special in that room as can be seen via the pics. Perhaps naively we did not have any security in the room but happily not a single thing went missing. A testament to the all round peace and love vibe of the weekend.

The Friday launch night went very well with Deb giving a moving speech and a host of radio and TV media types in attendance. Gary Foy will tell the tale oh how a rather lively Mick H threw up behind one of the stalls during the night but hey – it was in the name of the hammer of the gods! We also had the rock DJ’s the late Chris Tetley from Piccadilly Radio and Brian Pithers from Radio 210 to help us out on the PA and with the announcements. An MTV film crew turned up and filmed various interviews for a news piece they ran. There’s some interview clips from this filming on the YouTube clips below.

Looking back, the time and effort to organise everything was just vast – and this was a time where I was managing the Our Price Record shop in Bedford working a good 50 hours a week and at home we had the baby Sam not quite two years old. Somehow, I conjured up the relentless energy, passion and drive to make Celebration Days happen – as did Andy and a few others involved notably Gary Foy. Oh, and I wrote and edited a new TBL magazine to be on sale for May. Mind you I was only 35 years old then!

As for the two days – Saturday was a bit of a blur for me -there was so much to contend with and we were often making snap decisions about things that needed to happen. The attendance was very good with about a 1,000 through the doors. The Guest Speaker forum went down really well – Mick Hinton emotionally declaring ”The spirit of John is here today…Bonzo is here…” This had the audience totally captivated.

One thing that was clearly evident was the shared love and passion so many people from all walks of life had for this great band. Celebration Days was the first time I witnessed first hand, the communal spirit to be had amongst like minded enthusiasts – it was not to be the last. It was the point where I realised we did not have to stay confined in our respective Zep dens, getting out and meeting fellow fans and talking about this great passion of ours could make for a great social occasion and as it was usually in a pub, well that made it even better!

Debbie and her band played a great upbeat set on Saturday night and we also had live entertainment from The Force. This was a duo of a guitarist and drummer aged all of 14  performing Zep numbers and they went down a storm – the guitarist Graham Clews was talented beyond his years – I would imagine he is still playing somewhere. His Dad Roger was also a great support over the weekend. Quick update on Graham – he has been in touch after reading this and is indeed still playing and is based around the Birmingham area. Sadly his Dad Roger passed away last year.

Another popular attraction was the staging of an Ultimate Zep Quiz formulated by Mark Harrison and Phil Tattershall. The winner took home the rare 1969 hard backed US tour programme now worth quite a lot on the collectors market. Author and writer Colin Harper presented a ‘Folk Root of Jimmy Page’ forum.

I was absolutely exhausted by the evening and the drinks in the nearby bar (we dubbed it the Bron Yr Aur bar!) were much needed. I have to say Debbie was wonderfully supportive that night keeping Mick Hinton in check and assuring us we were all doing a fantastic job.

Sunday was calmer and more enjoyable for me  I did begin to relax and take it all in and spent time with the good lady Janet who had arrived the previous day alongside other friends who had turned up to support the event

Friends -oh yes, track two side one of Led Zep III says it all – like I said, the camaraderie amongst those in attendance was simply joyous. Leading on from that, there’s no doubt many lasting friendships were cemented at that first UK Convention.

I personally met so many people over that weekend who I have kept in touch ever since – I know there will be names I’ve missed here but they included Mark Harrison, Phil Tattershall, Julian Walker, Billy Fletcher and Alison Fletcher , Mark Archer, Graham Glover, Dave Fox, Dave Marsh, Nick Carruthers, Chris Loydall, Peter Mulder, Jan  Zondag, Richard Mackay, John Munro, Liz Hames, Robert Godwin, Diane Bettle, Susan Hedrick, Henry Nicholls, David Clayton,  Alan Cousins, Steve  Way and Peter Chow – to name but a few.

From America, I met Brian Knapp, Rick Barrett, Larry Bergmann jr, Keith Dubrovin, Bonnie Sturgess ,Susan and the late base Hedrick, Jay O Toole and the late Bob Walker.

Working closely with Gary Foy over that weekend also created a real bond between us that 25 years on, shows no sign of waning.

Most of the photos here were taken by Jan and Peter Mulder-Zondag. Back in 1992 they were celebrating their recent marriage and chose to honeymoon in the UK taking in the Convention and many Zep landmarks – so it’s a happy 25tth anniversary to them!

Another aspect of the Convention was the raising of money for charity – this we did via an auction superbly presented by Alan Cousins (black and white pic below via Peter Chow). Amongst the items that went for  song was an ordinal felt hat Bonzo wore which if I recall Rick Barrett snapped up. All all proceeds went  to the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre. A presentation was made to the charity’s Willie Robertson to Andy and myself on the Sunday afternoon.

Talking of which…the event closed with a final set from the Deborah Bonham Band. With Mum Joan and Mick’s son James watching from the side, John’s daughter Zoe guesting on stage and brother Mick on congas this was a real Bonham family affair. When Debbie performed The Old Hyde Farm, the song about the place John had lived at – well what can I say…

Something very spiritual happened in that room – which is quite hard to explain unless you were there. There was not a dry eye amongst us – it was truly one of the most emotional music performances I’ve ever witnessed – 25 years on Deb feels exactly the same as she explained recently when I did an interview with her for TBL.  I asked her for her memories of that weekend all of 25 years ago:

”Oh my goodness – where has that gone? Oh gosh, If I think back too much, I well up a bit because something special happened in that room when we played on the Sunday afternoon. Something really special happened and I would like to think that it was the spirt of my brother John. There was something incredibly moving that occurred then. Every single person who was in that room felt it, including my late brother Michael , Zoe, my Mum, Pete – we all left with an incredible feeling.

I look back and I see the photos and Michael on conga drums – he didn’t  know I was going to do that do you remember? We just set the congas up and then called him up on stage. It was just an incredible occasion to be amongst so many fans – there was this real spirit of Led Zeppelin being so alive again.” 

Debbie’s set ended wth rousing versions of You Shook Me (with Zoe on harmonica) Communication Breakdown and Rock And Roll – the latter had Mick Bonham leading the ”lonely lonely, lonely’ finale. Deb and all her family were up onstage to thank everybody and I remember she took a pic of all the crowd.

When it was time to finally wind down, the feeling was absolutely euphoric. There was lot’s of backslapping, man hugs and hand shakes as we all really felt we had achieved something.  The camaraderie amongst fans throughout the weekend is what really made it so incredible.

After that amazing Sunday, we eventually packed everything up. this took into the early hours – Gary, Janet and I  and a few others who helped us, all slept underneath the tables. We finally returned to Bedford on the Bank Holiday Monday. It had been a simply exhilarating weekend with many highs and some lows – but overall, I felt a deep sense of fulfilment in what we had achieved.

The following week’s Kerrang issue had a good report of the event – including a pic of me with members of Little Angels. Larry Bergmann did a great piece for the US Zoso Zep mag as did Mark Archer in his Wearing and Tearing mag. I’ve just read Mark’s piece and had to laugh when he noted a pint at the hotel bar was just £1.80!

Financially it was all a bit of a disaster and Andy and I we were both well out of pocket. On a business level, we were somewhat naïve in some of the decisions we took- not least putting up dear old Mick H for the weekend in the hotel. We had a bill for his phone calls that topped £50, though I’m not sure we ever paid it! Of course we were certainly not in it for a pay day but it would have been nice to break even or somewhere near. We did have a plan to make available a Convention video to sell but that idea fell through.

Above everything, what really mattered was that we had created something special and the reaction we had more than confirmed that.

A few days after the Convention, Debbie wrote a very moving thank you note to us on behalf of the Bonham family..

”The Convention was the best! You, Andy and Gary and many others who dedicated so much time to this made a lot of people very happy. For us it seemed that for 48 hours John was alive again I can’t tell you how proud it made my mother and the rest of the family feel For us John has never gone but for me to make a tribute to acknowledge he was the best something I never got to tell him when he was alive was a sheer honour. it has been a pleasure being with and working with such lovely people and to all the many fans that were there who have supported and followed Led Zeppelin to the end..not that there will ever be one, 

US attendee and long time TBL contributor in his piece for Zoso magazine summarised it as follows:

”Celebration Days turned out to be a celebration of John Bonham. An event that began with very high hopes and ended in an emotional family celebration that far exceeded anything one could have hoped for or imagined as the proceedings got underway.

The feeling of family unity and sport exemplified by the Bonham’s touched everyone who was in attendance. meeting the Bonham family and seeing their pride and happiness brought me a little closer to the while thing. And it made me even prouder to call myself a Led Zeppelin fan.


Dave and Andy congratulations. You got it right. May 22,23 and 24 truly were Celebration Days. I shall never forget them”

Those words from Deb and Larry really did make it all worthwhile.

Once I was back in the groove at work, I realised that organising this event had taken it’s toll and I needed a bit of a break from it all. In July we had a family holiday in Norfolk with Janet’s Mum and Dad . That break however proved to be short lived because by the autumn, I was planning the next TBL magazine and the introduction of a subscription based TBL offer. 1993 would prove to be full on with the release of the excellent Coverdale Page album, Robert’s superb Fate Of Nations album and tour plus the release of the Zep Boxed Set 2. Ahead, was the reuniting of Jimmy and Robert for the Unledded film and tour – it’s never really stopped since!

In early 1994, Andy informed me he was going to run another Convention at the same venue over two days in May. With a heavy workload of both my job and TBL, I decided not to co- organise it this time. I was involved in the organising alongside an organising party that included Janet Smith, Simon Pallett, Paul Sheppard, Dave Fox, Phil Tattershall and Alan Cousins. I was pretty full on with it all going into the final weeks. Andy did a great job organising it and ‘Dancing Days’ as it was dubbed was another splendid two days. Debbie and Mick Bonham came along again to perform and Jason also made an appearance. In some ways, I enjoyed myself more at this one with not being so full on with the organising and being much freer over the two days.

After that, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Andy ran a fair few Anniversary Daze one day events at the Eastern Monk pub in the centre of London aided by Eddie Edwards and Julian Walker -all very enjoyable and in 2005 Graeme Hutchinson and Gary Davies staged the excellent Zep Express Convention at the Roadmender venue in Northampton. There were also memorable Zep fan gathering events in Crewe, Stourbridge and Liverpool.

As good as these gatherings were, there was something uniquely special about that first UK Convention of 25 years ago.

Could it be done again? That’s something I’ve often been asked – I think a two day event would be very ambitious. A one day event? Well yes, that could happen. I’m not sure that I have the time to lead it (I’m 60 you know!) but I would certainly be happy to a part of it.

Over that weekend back in 1992, it felt like we were in unchartered waters – there had never been a coming together of like minded fans quite like this before and certainly not in the UK. I look back on it with immense pride –  I know Andy does too and looking at the photos always brings a smile.

They were the first Celebration Days – and very precious ones indeed with lasting memories and friendships. The celebration really did continue.

Sadly, some of those who were celebrating with us on that glorious weekend back in May 1992 are now departed…

I’d therefore like to dedicate this piece to Howard Mylett, Mick Hinton, Bob Walker, Base Hedrick, Paul Kelvie, Mick Burnett, Chris Tetley, Roger Clews and Joan and Michael Bonham.

Dave Lewis – May , 2022

It was 30 years ago today – Andy Adams and Dave Lewis present Celebration Days – The Led Zeppelin UK Convention
30 years ago today on Saturday May 23,1992 the first ever Led Zeppelin UK Convention got underway at at the Royal National Hotel. Staged over two days by the late much missed Andy Adams and myself, it was a simply incredible weekend as we brought together Led Zep fans from all over the globe to revel in the glory of the band we love over two amazing celebration days.
We both had wonderful vivid memories of all this and in recent years whenever I spoke to Andy our minds and thoughts would inevitably drift back to that first ever Zep Convention that we pulled off against some considerable odds. We did actually plan on marking the event in some way – perhaps a one day event somewhere on the 30th anniversary but very sadly Andy’s passing last August took that dream away.
I and many others will be thinking back to the celebration days of May 23 and 24 1992 today and thinking of dear Andy who we all miss so very much.
Five years ago on the 25th anniversary I asked Andy to contribute his thoughts for a piece I did for the TBL magazine. Here are Andy’s now very poignant words on the event written back in 2017…

Andy’s words.. .


25 years. It seems a moment ago, yet also a lifetime. As this particular anniversary of that special anniversary is upon us, so many memories and moments come into my mind.

The kernel of the idea became serious in 1991. After deciding against an offer from Phil of P & J Fairs to hold an ‘event’ in a side room at his London Victoria Record Fair, it was obvious something much bigger and dare I say it grander. It was at that point I spoke to Dave and we hatched our plans. The Royal National was the third such venue to be looked at, and despite being way over what budget we were originally thinking, was the one. We knew straight away.

As we hit 1992, everything became more frenzied, and really was a blur. After getting our initial framework and some incredible feedback and offers of help from so many of our friends in the Zeppelin ‘community’, we launched in March with a half page advert in Record Collector, mailshots and a stand at the Victoria Record Fair where ticket sales began. From then on it was all systems go, we knew there was no turning back!

And now I just think of those magical moments. Collecting some incredible vinyl and memorabilia for our ‘museum’ room. We arrived two days before and began the set up. Watching the museum take shape was mind boggling, seeing all these wonderful items together was a bit surreal – Jimmy’s Over Europe 80 black shirt, The Final option, 1st album US White Label, UK 7” promo’s, acetates, a wall of live CD’s, Tour Programmes, Physical Graffiti alternative artwork, pressings from Turkey, Angola, eight tracks, T Shirts…… The road goes ever on!

I’ll always remember my pride in fans young and old, new and ‘vintage’ staring in wonder as they wandered through, suddenly stopping and focusing on something that they’d never seen. Never forget shooting the breeze on the Friday with a very excited Howard Mylett. They’re the moments that made it unique.

We launched to the media on Friday, and stunned one and all with the recently surfaced film of Paris ’69 and our own ‘trump card’ the Julie Felix Show BBC clip. It set the tone perfectly and I remember feeling a mixture of excitement, exhaustion (we’d all been up for over 60 hurs by then!) and joy.

But the ‘things’ aren’t the real memories for me. It’s the fans. Us. It was – as Robert said back in ’79 – ‘a communion with the English folk’, and much more besides. Meeting friends old and new, people who were just names on an envelope or voices over the phone. The Zeppelin Community indeed.

We had wonderful guest speakers, Mick Hinton was a character and more than a handful. Chris Charlesworth was a gentleman, and wonderfully erudite too. Dear old Phil Tattershall and Mark Harrison devised a quiz ‘A Question of Zep’ for some light relief and gentle competition. Dave and Gary recreated the Jimmy-Robert twin neck/tambourine poster pose. Dardo! Peter & Jan. And perhaps most of all the Bonham family. Mick was a wonderful raconteur, regaling tales of playing the whistle on Fool In The Rain and many ‘at home’ stories about John ‘our kid’ as he affectionately called him. Debbie and Zoe were lovely too, and so full of pride and as amazed at the atmosphere as we all were. Joan, John’s Mum was terrific, and again so proud. The moment when Joan watched  from the side of  the stage as Debbie sang ‘Old Hyde Farm’ to a packed house was electric.

There are so many more memories that keep jumping into my head as I write this. All of the friends, co-conspirators as Luis Rey would say, who helped so much and helped bring it all together. And all of the new friends we all made that are with us to this day, even those that are sadly no longer here. It was a beautiful time, almost a religious experience, and I’m so proud of everything Dave and I achieved 25 years ago, with MORE than a little help from our friends. Whatever has happened in the last 25 years and whatever happens over the next, there’ll always be a little piece of Celebration Days in my heart and mind.

Thank YOU ALL for making it happen

Andy Adams

May 23rd, 2017.

25 Years Gone

Final words 30 years on from me…
Rest in peace Andy…to have shared all this with you was a total joy – one of the times of my life and above everyone involved, it was you that really made it happen…
Dave Lewis – May 23 2022


On the occasion of John Bonham’s 74th Birthday – May 31, 2022…

Next Tuesday is John Bonham’s 74th Birthday..

I love this photo – it may not be the sharpest image but for me, it captures the joyous spirit of John Bonham in full flight during Kashmir. It’s taken at Knebworth of course and frames the screen shot of Bonzo as it was being relayed on the backdrop screen by the video cameras. John Bonham’s total commitment to making it all tick over those two nights was pivotal to the success of that comeback. They all knew they had a lot to lose if they did not step up to the mark. As Robert reflected years later ” One or two of us might have been struggling at that point but Bonzo still had it.’’.

His performances on August 4 and 11 were exemplary and as you will read on below, were amongst his finest. John Henry Bonham…forever missed and forever loved….Happy 74th Birthday on Tuesday.…

Dave Lewis – May   


Greatest Beats – Percussive Perfection – 74 Examples of the John Bonham Drum Craft

Tuesday May 31, 2022 is John Bonham’s 74th Birthday. The intervening years since his untimely death at the age of 32 in 1980, have only enhanced his reputation as the outstanding rock drummer of all time.

To quantify that statement and in celebration of his life and legacy, what follows is a listing of 73 of his most notable performances.

It’s continually evident how integral the percussive element was to the overall impact of Led Zeppelin’s unique sound.

This was well apparent at the 02 reunion -clearly Jason Bonham’s understanding and contribution to that ethic was a key factor in the overwhelming success of that night.

It was his father of course who first laid down the template – the following listing highlights the varied aspects of his playing – from snare drum stampedes, though hi hat syncopation, jazzy interludes and sheer brutal power – it was this percussive talent that was at the heart of the group from the very start.

As with any celebration of their music, it’s designed to point readers in the direction of the 7 selections that span the man’s entire career. So be ready to be overawed once again by the sheer inventiveness of this very special musician.

For John Bonham at 74, this is his greatest beats…and percussive perfection…

Notes about this listing: The 74 selections are presented in chronological order of their year of recording – for the studio inclusions that means not necessarily the year they were released (ie in the case of Physical Graffiti recorded 1974 released 1975). The list covers John Bonham’s entire recorded career from the first Band Of Joy demos in 1967 through to the final performance on stage with Led Zeppelin on July 7, 1980 – it also hones in on performances  on the Companion Audio Discs of the Jimmy Page produced reissues released during 2014/5/6.The commentary tracks his ongoing prowess and periodically clocks the appropriate points of percussive perfection to be heard amongst the various examples of his vast percussive skills.

So air drumming at the ready….

For What it’s Worth Band Of Joy (1967)

Hear It: Robert Plant – Sixty Six To Timbuktu (Atlantic)

Hey Joe – Band Of Joy (1967)

* The earliest recorded remnants of the teenage Bonham with the Band Of Joy and fellow Midlander one Robert Plant.

Robert Plant said: ‘’You can hear Zeppelin in there. Bonzo’s doing a lot of those drum figures and fills which were quite popular with drummers like Carmine Appice all that virtuoso drumming. It was like ‘’Here I am everybody: somebody get me in a really big band quick -I want to get away from Plant!‘’

Hear it: Robert Plant – Sixty Six To Timbuktu (Atlantic)

Jim’s Blues/George Wallace Is Rollin’ In This Mornin’ – PJ Proby (1968)

* Enter The New Yardbird and his speed king foot pedal is heard for the first time with his new band mates on this PJ Proby session just prior to the recording of  the first Zep album.

Hear It: Your Time Is Gonna Come /The Roots of Led Zeppelin (Castle)

Good Times Bad Times (1968)

*From the dramatic two beat opening, John Bonham puts the whole kit through it’s paces. That pioneering use of bass drum triplets heralded the arrival of a very special drummer.

Jimmy Page said: ‘’In terms of John’s playing, a big point of reference is Good Time Bad Times. He’s playing brilliantly on everything else but this is right out of the norm – playing a bass drum pattern that no one else has ever heard.’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (1968)

* The noble art of percussive dynamics as Bonzo alternates from cymbal crashing crescendo to hi hat swing.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)

How Many More Times (1968)

The drama of the intro as he plays off John Paul Jones’ walking bass lines is a masterclass of jazz inspired percussion.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)

Sugar Mama (Mix) (1968)

*To quote from my review of Sugar Mama when it first appeared on the Coda reissue, in 2015 – ”Then there’s drummer John Bonham – long time friend of the aforementioned Plant and drafted into this new line up at the recommendation of the singer who had performed in the Band Of Joy with him. John had more recently forged a reputation touring with Tim Rose – Jimmy Page duly checked him out at a Tim Rose gig in Hampstead the previous July and saw the immense percussive potential. That potential is all over this track, most notably from 1 minute 23 to I minute28 -in that space of time, Bonzo as he will become known, delivers one of those seemingly impossible bass drum shuffles that will became a unique part of the Led Zep sound.”

Hear it: Coda Reissue –  Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic/Swan Song)

Pat’s Delight (Live Fillmore West 1969)

* Before Moby Dick, Bonzo’s live solo outing was known as Pat’s Delight affectionately named after his wife. On this early live rendition from the April 27 Fillmore West show in San Francisco ,you can clearly trace elements of the soon to be recorded Led Zeppelin 11 solo.

Hear It: Kozmic Blues (Beelzebub bootleg)

Communication Breakdown ( BBC Session 1969 )

* This take from their first John Peel session cut on March 3 1969 sizzles along -and Bonzo’s right at the heart of it.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 2 minutes 22 seconds the point were it veers off and the drummer free falls across tom tom and snare of the much employed maple Ludwig kit.

Hear It: The Complete BBC Radio Sessions (Empress Valley bootleg)

How Many More Times (Live BBC Playhouse Theatre 1969)

* An early live fave of course with that stimulating Gene Krupa inspired jazzy opening.

John Bonham said :‘’Gene Krupa was the first big band drummer to be really noticed. He came out and played the drums much louder than they ever had before. People didn’t take notice of drums until Krupa came along’’

Hear It: The Complete BBC Sessions (Atlantic)

Whole Lotta Love (Rough Mix with vocal)  (1969)

Nearly four decades on this track has lost none of it’s originality or power. One of one of their most potent studio moments and perhaps Bonzo’s best studio performance.

On this welcome alternate take from the 2014 reissues there’s no cough at the intro and straight to the riff. Where the chorus should come is a wonderfully disorientating moment because there is no chorus! Equally startling is the middle section which is devoid of the later overdubbed backwards echo effects. Instead, there’s sparse use of tympani and some neat rim shots from Bonzo. The whole mix has Bonzo right upfront enabling to him shine on this track like never before.

Clock the percussive perfection: Where else but that battering ram snare roll at 2.24 that leads into where Jimmy’s solo normally kicks in – but not on this occasion…

Hear It: Led Zeppelin II reissue Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

Ramble On (1969)

* The pitter patter of bare hands against drum dominates throughout.

John Bonham said: ‘’You get a lovely little tone out of the drums that you couldn’t get with the sticks. You get an absolute true drum sound because there’s no wood involved’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 2 (Atlantic)

Moby Dick (1969)

* The drum solo to play to those that claim they don’t like drum solos. A veritable Bonham stickfest.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic)

La La (Intro Outro Rough Mix) (1969)

A newly discovered instrumental for the 2014 reissue, this is  a brilliant piece of Page wizardry with Jones keyboards to the fore initially all supplemented by Bonzo’s speed fast playing. He is in there  tearing along and then on into yet another time signature switch as it slows to a bluesy feel and then a step on the wah wah for a scintillating Hendrix like finale.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 1.05 just prior to Jimmy’s switch to acoustic – Bonzo kicks in at lightening speed across the kit.

Hear it: Led Zeppelin II Reissue Companion Audio Disc)

Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown (Live at The Olympia 1969)

*A short lived set opener that combined the instrumental intro of Good Bad Times with a frantic Communication Breakdown.

Clock the percussive perfection:  At 00.39 when John leads them into the into of Communication Breakdown with a storming barrage of snare and tom tom attacks.

Hear it: Led Zeppelin reissue Companion Audio Disc) 

Wailing Sounds – Lord Such & Heavy Friends (1969)

* A rare session for the outrageous Sutch. Note Bonzo’s two beat snare drive that dominates the track – a tactic that he would later repeat notably on the live Over The Hills And far Away arrangement and Candy Store Rock on Presence

Hear It: Your Time Is Gonna Come -The Roots of Led Zeppelin (Castle)

We’re Gonna Groove (Live at The Royal Albert Hall 1970)

* Simply Devastating. From the moment Bonzo warms up the kit through the frenzied opening and ride cymbal onslaught. Definitive John Bonham.

John Paul Jones said: ‘’I’ve seen all three James brown drummers stand around him at the Newport Festival in disbelief wondering how one guy does what all three of them did’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Music Vision)

I Can’t Quite You Baby (Live Royal Albert Hall 1970)

* A wonderfully atmospheric performance from the glorious Royal night of Albert thankfully all captured on film.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Music Vision)

Moby Dick (Live at The Royal Albert Hall 1970)

* Yes seeing is believing – superbly restored for the 2003 DVD this is 15 minutes of sheer percussive brilliance. Bonzo clatters, rattles, shakes and bangs his way into percussive immortality.

John Bonham said: ‘’My son Jason plays. I’ve got a kit made to scale for him. He’s got a great sense of time- even when we go out in the car he takes his sticks to bash on the seats. Before the end of Led Zeppelin I’m going to have him onstage with us at the Albert Hall’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Music Vision)

Immigrant Song (1970)

* Marvel at how he drives this tremendous opening track  with a forceful full on percussive attack. The pace here is just relentless.

Hear It : Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic)

Friends (1970)

* In which Bonzo forfeits the sticks for the bongos, and has no trouble in keeping up with JPJ’s relentless string swirl.

Hear it: Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic)

Since I’ve Been Loving You (1970)

* Proving there’s no sin in omission, Bonzo’s sparse incisive back beat allows the rest of them to build the tension. The opening two minutes are just masterful.

Clock the percussive perfection: 48 seconds in with that positively nuclear cymbal crash over Page’s Gibson squeals and Plant’s instinctive shout of ‘’Oh!’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 3 (Atlantic)

Out On The Tiles (1970)

* Not for nothing did he have a joint song writing credit for a performance of sheer explosive power.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 2.35 as the long fade out kicks in with Bonzo flailing around the kit – all deftly panned in stereo splendour.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 3 (Atlantic)

Gallows Pole (1970)

*Again that sense of  light and shade dynamics is applied to this tradition tune in a manner only they could muster.

* Clock the percussive perfection: The tension builds and then blam! John Henry is in at 2.04 to gallop amongst the gallows.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 3 (Atlantic)

Poor Tom (1970)

* An invigorating New Orleans jazz straight eighth shuffle opens and carries the track throughout. An absolute masterclass of controlled percussion.

Hear It: Coda (Swan Song)

St Tristans Sword (rough mix) (1970)

This three way instrumental work out from 1970 is built around a totally invigorating bass and drum pattern – the bass and drum syncopation between JPJ and Bonzo is just outstanding. Bonzo putting to good use his best New Orleans shuffle ala Poor Tom. This was one of the finds of the whole reissue series and yet another prime example of Bonzo pushing the percussive boundaries beyond the norm.

Hear it: Coda Reissue –  Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic/Swan Song)

Bring It On Home (Live at LA Forum 1970)

*One of the all time great Zep live performances.

* Clock the percussive perfection: From 6.25 as Page and Bonzo lock horns in a classic guitar and drums battle.

Hear It: Live On Blueberry Hill (Trade Mark Of Quality bootleg)

If It Keeps On Raining (When the Levee Breaks Rough Mix) (1970)

* This is a simply sensational initial run through from November 1970 with a totally alternate laid back swampy feel, slightly faster in tempo to the original. Robert’s vocals have a sparse low register echoed scat singing element to them, adding to the almost soundcheck run through quality of the piece. It certainly has a total groove of its own with incessant bass line from JPJ, Bonzo’s drumming funky as hell with a distinctive snare drum sound

Hear it: Coda Reissue –  Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic/Swan Song)

Rock And Roll (1971)

* Guaranteed to cause severe outbreaks of air drumming from the moment that cymbal crashing intro commences.

*Clock the percussive perfection: It has to be that final flurry at 3.25. The most concise percussive statement ever committed to tape.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (Atlantic)

Black Dog (1971)

* To paraphrase a Jason Bonham album title, this is clear case of the disregard of time keeping. Simple in it’s execution -nigh on impossible to copy -John is totally locked in to the rhythm with JPJ.

John Paul Jones said: ‘’Musically we were very proud of our capabilities. The empathy we had when we played was always incredibly exhilarating, but then I was fortunate. I was playing with the best drummer Id ever known – and I’d know a lot’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (Atlantic)

Misty Mountain Hop (1971)

* Clock the percussive perfection: From 3.55 to 4.01 as Bonzo strikes up a magnificent drum roll and the whole affair drifts off into the psychedelic sunshine. ‘’I really don’t know..ohoh ohoh.’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (1971)

Four Sticks (1971)

* Yet another remarkable percussive statement. Bonzo tears along with a four stick attack clicking the rims of the drums in the process. Innovative and totally infectious.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (Atlantic)

When The Levee Breaks (1971)

* The remake – one drum kit, one stairwell, one microphone over the banister…a thousand samples…and the greatest of beats.

Robert Plant said: John always felt his significance was minimal but if you take him off any of our tracks, it loses it’s potency and sex. I don’t think he really knew how important he was‘’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 4 (Atlantic)

Heartbreaker (Live at Berkeley 1971)

A classic live performance as recorded on September 14 1971 and immortalized on the Going To California bootleg.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 5.04 the moment Bonzo re enters after Jimmy’s virtuoso guitar solo. The power of his pummelling even for him is just immerse…

Hear it – Going To California TMQ Bootleg double album

Immigrant Song (Live in Osaka 1971)

Another classic live performance as recorded on September 29 ,1971 at the Festival Hall Osaka – available again on the More Comedy Less Work 4 CD set.

Clock the percussive perfection: From the moment Bonzo’s shouts ”Louder, louder” and crashes into the intro and locks right in with Page and Jones – a perfect example of the way he drove the rhythmic machine…

Hear it – More Comedy  Less Work  4 CD TARC Bootleg set

No Quarter (Rough Mix with JP keyboards -overdubs -no vocals) (1971)

Another standout highlight from the 2014 reissue. A December 1971  instrumental mix with JPJ piano very prominent, theremin effects and the drums crystal clear. This is a clear case of Bonzo allowing the feel of the song to breath – as was so often the case – it’s not what he plays  but what he doesn’t play that provides the air between it all.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 3.58 when he comes in out of JPJ’s solo to add a subtle hi hat shuffle – the right effect at the right time…

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy Reissue Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

Don’t Freak Me Out – Jimmy Stevens (1972)

In April 1972  John took time out to contribute two tracks to this Maurice Gibb produced album by English singer songwriter Jimmy Stevens. He was billed on the album under the name Gemini. On this title track of the album recorded at Morgan Studios, John adds some suitably strident percussive weight to a bluesy stomper – throwing in the bass drum triplicates at will…

Hear it: Jimmy Stevens – Don’t Freak Me Out (Atlantic)

The Crunge (1972)

* Talking of which – the boys get off on the good foot and Bonzo applies a ridiculous 9/8 time. Could anyone do The Crunge..? John Bonham evidently could…

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy (Atlantic)

Walters Walk (Rough Mix) (1972)

This vocal less rough mix only heightens Bonzo’s driving of the rhythm – it’s a relentless groove

Clock the percussive perfection: From 2.28 when the riff kicks back in and Bonzo tears along with it right to the fade…

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy Reissue Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

D’yer Ma’ker (1972)

* Less reggae, more 50’s fun time led all the way by Bonzo’s huge upfront wide screen playing -leading to a deserved lead song writing credit.

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy (Atlantic)

The Rover (1972)

* First tried for Houses, it’s eventual release three years later was well worth the wait. Bonzo’s snare drum torrents subside for Page’s melodic embellishments.

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Dazed And Confused (Live at LA Forum 1972)

* A 25 minute tour de force with Bonzo in the middle of it all guiding them through early stabs at Walters Walk and The Crunge in the process.

Hear It: How The West Was Won (Atlantic)


Happy Birthday Dear Bonzo/Heartbreaker (Live LA Forum 1973)

* A fantastic sequence – ‘’John Bonham! John Bonham! John Bonham!’’ exclaims R. Plant on the night of John’s 25th birthday. Then it’s the obligatory ‘’Happy Birthday To You’’ and a comment of ‘’Far out’’ from Plant. Bonzo’s intro to the old live warhorse Heartbreaker is just that.

Hear It: Bonzo’s Birthday Party (Trademark Of Quality bootleg)

The Rain Song (Live Madison Square Garden 1973)

* More controlled dynamics.

Clock the percussive genius: From 5.59 after Robert’s ‘’But I know that I love you so’’ line. Bonzo is all across the tympani right though to the final flurry on the gong.

Hear It: The Song Remains The Same Soundtrack (Swan Song)

No Quarter (Live Madison Square Garden 1973)

Clock the percussive perfection: From 9.01 as Bonzo plays behind Jimmy’s wah wah solo displaying a hi hat syncopation favoured by the likes of 70’s funkateers Sly Stone and Tower of Power

Hear It: The Song Remains The Same Soundtrack (Swan Song)

The Ocean (Live Madison Square Garden 1973)

* Totally uplifting. This is mid period Zep in all it’s unchained unabashed carnal glory. Via the DVD we can vividly see Page playing not only to an ocean but right off the drummer’s cues and shouts. Absolutely joyous.

Hear It: The Song Remains The Same Soundtrack  2007 reissue (Swan Song)

Kashmir (Demo 1973)

* Heard in it’s purest form – no overdubs, no vocals – just Page, Jones and Bonham driving the riff on and on.

Hear It: Brutal Artistry (Midas Touch bootleg)

Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light) Early Version/In Transit) (1974) 

A totally different work in progress arrangement with John Paul Jones’ Elizabethan harpsichord keyboard sequence being later replaced by the drone links.  Very much a Headley Grange mix with live drumming. Some elements of this version were retained for the re make  –notably Bonzo’s drum parts and Jimmy’s guitar melody.

Clock the percussive perfection: The closing moments from 5.42 to 6.29  with John Bonham’s relentless drum fills are some of the very best applied to any Led Zeppelin track.

Hear It: Physical Graffiti Reissue Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

The Wanton Song (1974)

* Classic machete Zep. Again it’s John Henry steadying the ship as Page’s angular riffs take hold. It’s that rock steady beat that keeps it all in line.

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

In My Time Of Dying (1974)

* Perhaps their most intense and brutal studio performance – and it’s Bonzo constantly underpinning it all.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 7.12 and those four military barrages of power shared by Bonham and Page before Robert comes in with the line ‘’And I see it in the streets’’

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Trampled Underfoot (1974)

* Journalist Lisa Robinson commented at the time ’’It sounds like The Beatles battled the Stones in a parking lot, and Led Zeppelin won.’’ Yet another example of their diversity.

John Bonham said: ‘’When we first ran through it John Paul and Jimmy started off the riff and we thought it was a bit souly for us. Then we changed it about a bit. It’s great for me – a great rhythm for a drummer.It’s just at the right pace and you can do a lot of frills.’’

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Kashmir (1974)

* Now in it’s full splendour and yet another masterful Bonham contribution. There’s no doubt that the economy in his playing gave the song it’s vastness.

Robert Plant said: ‘’A lot of Kashmir was done to Bonzo. He was a real thrifty player. It was often what he didn’t do that made it work.’’

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

Over The Hills And Far Away (Live Earls Court 1975)

* Always a live favourite – the studio version was merely the starting point for this particular tangent within the framework.

Clock the percussive perfection: From Plant’s shout of ‘’Acapulco gold’’ at 2.35 as Bonzo drives the rhythmic experiments of Page’s solo with a two hit snare run not dissimilar to that employed on Candy Store Rock

Hear It: To Be A Rock And Not To Roll (Watch Tower bootleg)

In My Time Of Dying (Live Earls Court 1975)

* The brutality of the studio version carries though to the live performance and as can be seen in close up on the DVD. Bonzo’s bass kick was all important here.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Music Video)

Bron Yr Aur Stomp (Live Earls Court 1975)

* The good vibes of the time perfectly encapsulated. Bonzo’s the star as he leads them on a merry dance, contributing backing vocals and even castanets.

John Bonham said: ‘’I enjoyed those concerts. I thought they were the best shows we‘ve ever put on in England. I thought the video screen was really worth doing. You could get close ups you would never be able to see normally at a concert’’

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Home Vision)

Achilles Last Stand (1975)

* The chemistry of all four perfectly in sync to pull off perhaps their most inventive composition.

Clock the percussive perfection: So many to choose from – how about 1.17 and the first fill ,then again at 2.29 and another burst of power, or there’s the point at 4.08 when the first machine gun rally with Page kicks in.

Hear It: Presence (Swan Song)

Royal Orleans (1975)

* Bonzo cleverly plays against the riff with a funky edge on another of his co compositions.

Clock the percussive perfection: 1.56 and the interjection of bongos with the main drumming. A deft touch.

Hear It: Presence (Swan Song)

Hots On For Nowhere (1975)

* As Charles Shaar Murray noted, what the Glenn Miller orchestra would have sounded like had they been a murderously heavy four piece rock band. This one swings along with some incredible fills.

Clock the percussive perfection. At 4.01 through to the finish as he clatters around the spiralling Page runs.

Hear It: Presence (Swan Song)

10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod” (Reference Mix) (1975)

So Jonesy did take the piano out of the flight case for the Munich recordings – it’s emergence on the 2015 reissue throws a new light on what had previously thought to be an  18 day frenzy of guitar, bass and drums arrangements.

Mournful, forlorn and reflective, it creates a beautiful atmosphere. Jimmy drifts in at 2mins 39 with some minor descending electric strumming, quite possibly courtesy of the Telecaster B bender. Behind all that there’s an acoustic guitar – all very autumnal and Ten Years Gone- ish. Then John Bonham enters at 3 mins 02 and like Jimmy says, it will make you smile – it might even make you cry. It all leads on to something of a crescendo in an All My Love outro tempo.

Clock the percussive perfection: The aforementioned entry at 3.01 -so poignant – the three of them instrumentally coming together in perfect harmony.

Hear It: Presence  Reissue Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

Bonzo’s Montreux (1976)

* Enter the John Bonham orchestra. Bonzo had long harboured a plan for a dramatic new solo piece and the period in tax exile gave him the opportunity to experiment in Mountain Studios. The result – another percussive landmark.

Hear It: Coda (Swan Song)

The Song Remains The Same (Live LA Forum 1977)

* Despite all the off stage lunacy surrounding them now, Bonzo came through when it mattered. It certainly mattered any time they played Los Angeles and this opening night in LA was a triumph.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 1.25 to 1.36 a ten second torrent of furious snare attack as the song builds.

Hear It: Listen To This Eddie (Empress Valley bootleg)

Over The Top/Moby Dick (Live LA Forum 1977)

* The last hurrah for the long drum solo. On the ‘77 tour the opening riff preceding the solo was cribbed from Out On The Tiles.

Hear It: Listen To This Eddie (Empress Valley bootleg)

Keep Your Hands On The Wheel – Roy Wood (1978)

* With Zep off the road there was ample time for extra curricular work. Helping out fellow Brummie rocker Roy Wood, he brings that huge Bonham sound to a melodic stomper from the Wizard man

Clock the percussive perfection: From 2.42 to 3.03 with Bonzo reprising the mighty snare roll of Whole Lotta Love as they switch back to the main chorus.

Hear It: Roy Wood On The Road Again (Warners)/The Bonham Sessions (Hammer Jack bootleg)

Rockestra Theme – Paul McCartney & Wings (1978)

* A massive jam sharing the drum chores with Kenny Jones and Wings Steve Holly down at Abbey Road for the fab Macca’s rock orchestra – later to be reproduced on stage at the Hammersmith Odeon for what would be Bonzo’s last live performance in the UK. Footage of this studio session where he plays a black Billy Cobham flared style kit, can be seen on the Paul McCartney Wingspan DVD

Hear It: Wings – Back To The Egg (EMI)/The Bonham Sessions (Hammer Jack bootleg)

South Bound Suarez (1978)

Another masterclass of understated percussion as he underpins the shuffle of the song with pin point precision.

Clock the percussive perfection. At 3.27 as John’s snare, bass drum and hi hat combination ushers them into that delightful ”sha la la la” fade out

Hear It: In Through The Out Door (Swan Song)

Fool In The Rain (1978)

* On this outstanding Bonham showcase we can hear the fusion influence of jazz players such as Benard Purdie and Alphonse Mouzon.

Clock the percussive perfectionFirstly at 2.25 when the whistle blowing ushers in a Latin samba delight, then to the dexterity of his playing from 3.32 to 3.50 and the entry of Jimmy’s solo.

Robert Plant said: ‘’If you listen to Bonzo on that album -things like Fool In The Rain ,well he was weaving with as much dexterity and finesse as on the early days. One or two of us might have been struggling at that point but Bonzo still had it‘.’

Hear It: In Through The Out Door (Swan Song)

Wearing And Tearing (1978)

* He’d mixed it with the punks down at the Roxy club in ‘77 so attacking this track with Rat Scabies like vigour was chicken feed. Fast and loose and then some…Punk rock? Never ‘eard of it…

Hear It: Coda (1978)

Sick Again (Live Knebworth 1979)

* As mentioned above, Knebworth was an absolute triumph for Bonzo -his playing throughout was exemplary. One of the surprise highlights of the set was this  stand alone version of Sick Again – and he is just phenomenal all the way.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 3.44 and onwards as he puts the metallic kit through it’s paces and whips up a storm right through to the stop gap ending at 5.07

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Home Vision)

In The Evening (Live Knebworth 1979)

*More magnificence as Bonzo builds the drama with that phased tympani intro.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 7.10 onwards as he compliments Plant’s pleading and Page’s Stratocaster strut with a tribal tom tom assault.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Home Vision)

Whole Lotta Love (Live Knebworth 1979)

* The finale – a stripped down remodel with added spice and a new middle section that gave the song a new lease of life.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 2.16 where Page kicks in the new riff and Bonzo supplements it with a solid beat.

Hear it: Led Zeppelin DVD (Warner Home Vision)

Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Live Cologne 1980)

* The 1980 Over Europe tour brought with it a clear sense of  rejuvenation. John attacked this latter day favourite with all the verve and bluster of their first Europe trek nearly eleven years earlier.

Hear It: A Close Shave bootleg (Condor)

Whole Lotta Love (Live Munich 1980)

* With Simon Kirke guesting, Munich witnessed the rare sight of two drummers jamming it out for what would be the penultimate delivery of the classic anthem

Simon Kirke said: ”I remember we were in his hotel room literally with our hands on our knees just getting the rhythm. It was a wonderful experience to be on stage with Zeppelin.’’

Hear It: Munich 1980 (Tarantura bootleg)

Kashmir (Live Berlin 1980)

* Perhaps the best received number on the tour – rightfully taking it’s place at the latter end of the set.

Clock the percussive perfection: At around 7.12 as Bonzo paves the way home with a serious of phased drum fills each one a little more frenzied as they reach the climax.

‘’John Bonham on drums….’’

They did not know it but Robert Plant had just made the last introduction to his life long friend and integral band mate.

Hear It: Last Stand (Toasted Condor bootleg)

Stairway To Heaven (Live in Berlin 1980)

* And finally…

An extraordinary performance. Page’s solo on this last ever Led Zeppelin delivery meandered to take the track to nearly fifteen minutes in duration. Bonzo’s task was to intrusively follow the guitarist lead which he does with deft skill.

The camaraderie of recent weeks seemed to will them on to keep the flame burning for as long as they could on this final night.

A little over 80 days later Led Zeppelin were no more

Robert Plant said: ‘’The band didn’t exist the moment Bonzo had gone to me.”

Hear It : Last Stand (Toasted Condor bootleg)

So there you’ve it – 74 vivid examples of the John Bonham drum craft – play them today and remember him this way…

Happy 7th Birthday John Bonham…

John Bonham 74 at 74 listing compiled by Dave Lewis

LZ News:

Here’s the latest round up from LZ News:

Led Zeppelin

Jimmy Page

Robert Plant

  • Robert Plant is in Alabama ahead of the start of his world tour with Alison Krauss in Canandaigua, New York on June 1. He was photographed at FAME Recording Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama on May 18. He was joined on the trip by drummer Jay Bellerose who will tour with Plant and Krauss.

Upcoming events:

June 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Canandaigua, New York and Jimmy Page and Scarlett Sabet will be interviewed on stage at Hay Festival in Wales.
June 2 – Jimmy Page will be interviewed on stage at Hay Festival in Wales.
June 3 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Saratoga Springs, New York.
June 4 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Forest Hills, New York.
June 6 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Clarkston, Michigan.
June 7 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Chicago, Illinois.
June 9 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Indianapolis, Indiana.
June 10 – Patty Griffin’s album “TAPE,” featuring a duet with Robert Plant, will be released.
June 11 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Columbia, Maryland.
June 12 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
June 14 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Cary, North Carolina.
June 16 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Atlanta, Georgia.
June 17 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
June 22-26 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England.
June 26 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at BST Hyde Park in London, England.
June 29 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Denmark.
July 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Hamar, Norway.
July 2 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bergen, Norway.
July 5 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Rättvik, Sweden.
July 8 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at Cactusfestival in Bruges, Belgium.
July 10 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Royal Park Live festival in Baarn, Netherlands.
July 13 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland.
July 14 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Lucca Summer Festival in Lucca, Italy.
July 16 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at JazzOpen Stuttgart 2022 in Stuttgart, Germany.
July 18 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Sopot, Poland.
July 20 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Berlin, Germany.
August 15 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in San Diego, California.
August 17 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Santa Barbara, California.
August 18 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Los Angeles, California.
August 20 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Stateline, Nevada.
August 21 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Berkeley, California.
August 23 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Napa, California.
August 25 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bend, Oregon.
August 27 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Troutdale, Oregon.
August 28 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Redmond, Washington.
August 30 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Salt Lake City, Utah.
September 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Denver, Colorado.
September 3 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Grand Prairie, Texas.
September 4 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Austin, Texas and the Black Country Beats exhibition at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, which is set to include Robert Plant’s career, will close.
October – The expanded edition of “Led Zeppelin – Five Glorious Nights” by Dave Lewis will be published.
October 19 – The French translation of “Led Zeppelin By Led Zeppelin” will be published.
December 22 – The paperback edition of “Beast: John Bonham and the Rise of Led Zeppelin” by C.M Kushins will be published.
2023 – “A Whole Lotta Music: Life To My Ears,” the memoirs of Tight But Loose editor Dave Lewis, will be published.
2023 – The remastered and expanded 30th anniversary edition of “Coverdale–Page” will be released.

2023 – “Robert Plant: A Life In Vision,” a photo book edited by Dave Lewis, will be published.

Many thanks to James Cook 

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Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at

Led Zeppelin Madison Square Garden September 19 1970 new 8mm footage – an amazing find!

A fabulous newly surfaced 8mm film clip here of Led Zeppelin performing Immigrant Song and Heartbreaker – a few cuts and edits but what is here is mid blowing!

Alan White RIP:

Very sad to hear the passing of the long time Yes drummer Alan White aged 72. Alan also worked with Jimmy Page in early 1981 on the offcially unreleased XYZ sessions.

It was this record back in 1970 that made me first aware of what a brilliant drummer Alan White was – he plays amazingly on this Lennon/Plastic Ono Band Instant Karma! single ….Shine on Alan…

Bedford VIP Record Fair:

The VIP Record Fair returns to Bedford this Saturday 28 May at the Harpur Suite venue..

All tables fully booked. All areas of collectable music genres are covered so you are in for a fantastic browsing treat – some brand new sellers and genuine bargain basement tables.

More Info at

DL Diary Blog Update:

Friday May 20:

It’s  a Happy Birthday to Mr Paul Sheppard…long time TBL supporter, fountain of Zep recording knowledge and all round top man.

His amazingly detailed Led Zep contributions have lit up many a TBL project and his knowledge on the

Zep bootleg CD catalogue is awe inspiring. Paul’s frequent posts on the late much missed Andy Adam’s Celebration Days Facebook group are a definitive guide to the best recordings and hugely enlightening.

We have also shared some great times together over many years and it’s always great to be in his company. Paul has also been a constant support to me personally. Happy Birthday Paul from Janet and I and on behalf of all the Zep community –  have a great day mate  …

Friday May 20:

On the player in this 47th anniversary week of Led Zeppelin’s five shows at Earls CourT  the rather rare Led Zeppelin No Quarter  bootleg on the Red Devil label. This single LP  captures some of the brilliant Earls Court performance from the May 18 1975 show. The version of  No Quarter performance itself is  right up there with the very best  versions  -John Paul Jones is simply amazing on this…

Saturday May 21:

Saturday is platterday…on the player some early morning John Lennon – the timeless 1971 Imagine album sounding very good on a spring Saturday morning…

Saturday is platterday  – on the player Free Live! Another gem from 1971…







Saturday is platterday  – on the player  the very fine Argus by Wishbone Ash…


Wednesday May 25:

On this Led Zep Earls Court 47th anniversary appropriately enough I’ve been working on the initial basic lay out for the forthcoming revised and expanded edition of the Five Glorious Nights Led Zeppelin at Earls Court May 1975 book.
This is due out later in the year via Rufus Stone books. I’ve been assessing which photos we can add and where and working on a page plan – all a long way to go but I am very much looking forward to making a good thing even better.
Wading through all this today it struck me that back in May 1975 when I was soaking up Led Zeppelin at Earls Court at merely 18 years old, if someone had predicted that 47 years on age 65, I would still be as entranced by this band and these concerts and would be editing a book on them, well I’d have found that quite unbelievable – but that’s the way it is and that is truly the wonder of devotion…
Pre ordering link for the book is here:
Update here:
As can be seen above, I am full on with work on the revised and expanded edition of the Five Glorious Nights – Led Zeppelin at Earls Court May 1975 book. Elsewhere ,last Sunday it was great to see Tottenham take the fourth place in the Premier League and qualify for next season’s Champions League. The season comes to a close this Saturday with the Liverpool v Real Madrid Champions League Final -here’s hoping Liverpool can come out on top on that one. Janet is continuing to make steady progress – she is still on her crutches but has managed to get back to work which is very encouraging.
Plenty of musical inspiration on the player and aside from the above selections-  here’s the current DL playlist:
Led Zeppelin – To Be a Rock and Not To Roll – Earls Court May 24 1975 4CD set
Led Zeppelin – No Quarter/Earls Court May 18 1975 Red Devil label bootleg LP
Yes – Going For The One LP – Just heard the very sad news of Alan White’s passing -his percussive mastery is all over this great album.
Dana Gillespie – What Memories We Make – The Complete Mainman Recordings 1971 -1974  2CD
The Faces – Long Player LP
David Bowie – Young Americans LP
Norah Jones – Come Away With Me CD
Paul Weller – 22 Dreams CD
Pete Townshend – Who Came First CD
The Rolling Stones – El Macombo 1977 2CD
Thanks for listening – stay safe and well you very lovely people…

Dave  Lewis – May 26 2022

Until next time…

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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