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31 May 2007 3,562 views No Comment

”We’ll call this gig Bonzo’s birthday … Bonzo’s Birthday party”

Those were the first words spoken onstage by Robert Plant at the Inglewood Forum on the night of May 31 1973 that came out from my record player around six months on from that gig on as I eagerly listened to my latest Led Zeppelin underground LP acquisition – a double album set on the Trade Mark Of Quality label titled Bonzo’s Birthday Party.

That is some 33 years ago – sadly longer than John Henry Bonham lived in his lifetime.
For today would have been his 59th birthday.

There are some classic Bonham moments on that old vinyl double album. The mannered timekeeping in No Quarter (which again highlights it was often the space he left between the beat that made Zeppelin instrumentally what it was), the riotous delivery of The Ocean (proceeded on the album by that absurd ‘Prunes from California’ ad break) and that great link that joins Heartbreaker to Whole Lotta Love. Playing that album again today it becomes so evident what was lost to us all that dark day in September 1980…but also what still remains.

The Bonham sound still resonates today from the countless tribute band drummers that try to emulate his style on stage nightly around the world … the many Levee Breaks samples that backtrack all manner of dance orientated acts from the Beasties to Leftfield … from the array of guitar and metal based bands such as Kings Of Leon, Killers, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club etc who lean heavily on the incessant percussive swing that John Bonham trademarked with Led Zeppelin from 1968 to 1980.
Gone … but never ever forgotten … and still so frequently heard.
Happy Birthday Bonzo.

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