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REMEMBERING JOHN BONHAM 42 YEARS GONE – 42 GREATEST BEATS – SEPTEMBER 1980 MEMORIES/LZ NEWS/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

22 September 2022 2,195 views One Comment

Remembering John Bonham 42 years gone …

To mark the 42nd anniversary on September 25, of his passing, I’ve rounded up 42 examples of John Bonham’s percussive perfection. Along with countless fans around the world I will be indulging in many of these remarkable performances as we remember the man who still remains at the heart and soul of Led Zeppelin…

John Bonham 1948 – 1980:

Always loved…Always remembered… Always played…

Play these and remember him this way…42 greatest beats…

She’s A Mod – The Senators – (1964)

The earliest appearance on record of the young John Bonham on record. There’s plenty of busy fills on this Twist and Shoutish typical mid 60s beat boom outing.

Hear it: Brum Beat Compilation/YouTube

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

* Another early 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)

Good Times Bad Times (1969)

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

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 (1969)

An early example of his ability to flow with the light and shade arrangements. He hangs back at all the right times and then enters with a stunning crescendo that literally throws you back.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)

Communication Breakdown ( BBC Session 1969 )

* This take from their first John Peel session cut on March 3 1969 and aired on March 23 this fairly 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 CD 3 (Rhino/Atlantic )

 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: BBC Sessions (Atlantic)

bonzo may 31

Whole Lotta Love (1969)

One of one of their most potent studio moments and perhaps Bonzo’s best studio performance.

Clock the percussive perfection: Where else but that battering ram snare roll at 3.02 that leads into Page’s solo

Hear It: Led Zeppelin II (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 II (Atlantic)

We’re Gonna Groove (Live 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)

Moby Dick (Live 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)

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.

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 III (Atlantic)

Bathroom Sound – aka Out On The Tiles (1970)

Not so much out on the tiles as inside the drum heads…and what an instrumental percussive feast…

Hear It: Led Zeppelin III Companion Audio Disc (Atlantic)

Gallows Pole (1970)

* Clock the percussive perfection: The tension builds and then blam!-  he’s in at 2.04 to gallop amongst the gallows.

Hear It: Led Zeppelin 3 (Atlantic)

Bron -Yr Ar- Stomp (1970)

John lights up this delightful semi acoustic stomp by some subtle hi -hat and bass drum kicks that add the necessary drive in all the right places

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)

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)

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 IV (Atlantic)

 When The Levee Breaks (1971)

* 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 IV (Atlantic)

Dazed And Confused (Live 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)

The Crunge (1973)

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

Hear It: Houses Of The Holy (Atlantic)

D’yer Ma’ker (1973)

* 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)

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.

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

The Rover (1975)

* First tried for Houses Of The Holy , it’s eventual release three years later was worth the wait. Bonzo’s machine gun snare torrents subside for  Page’s melodic embellishments.

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

In My Time Of Dying (1975)

* Perhaps their most intense and brutal 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)

Kashmir (1975)

* Led Zeppelin in 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)

 

In The Light (1975)

Another total tour de force as John drives the tempo as required behind Jonesy’s keyboard effects.

Clock the percussive perfection: From 6 min 46 and right through to the fade – John scatters around the kit delivering a series of stunning fills that Jimmy weaves his electric guitar magic around…

Hear It: Physical Graffiti (Swan Song)

The Wanton Song (1975)

* 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 all in line.

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 the tangents 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)

Achilles Last Stand (1976)

* 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 (1976)

* 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 (1976)

* 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)

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

The outtake from the Presence sessions as recorded in November 1975. 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 01 and like Jimmy says, it will make you smile – it might even make you cry…

Clock the percussive perfection: At 2.25 when the drums enter with typical Bonham graceful precision.

Hear It: Presence Companion Audio Disc (Rhino/Swan Song)

Beware My Love with Paul McCartney and Wings (1976) 

This demo version of the song on Wings At The Speed Of Sound surfaced on the extended remastered package in 2014.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 1 minute 54 when John gives it a roll on the snare drum as Paul shouts out ”Intro!”

Hear it: Wings At The Speed of Sound remastered expanded edition (MPL)

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)

Bonham

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)

 

Keep Your Hands On The Wheel – (with Roy Wood 1979)

A little known cameo performance – this track was recorded in 1978 and released on Roy Wood’s solo album. Bonzo helps out his fellow Midlands chum adding suitably widescreen drumming to a rollicking stomp.

Clock the percussive perfection: At 3 minutes when Bonzo leads them back in with a familiar clatter across snare and tom -tom.

Hear It: Roy Wood On The Road Again (Warner Brothers

Fool In The Rain (1979)

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

Clock the percussive perfection. Firstly 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 (1979)

* 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)

* Knebworth was a 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)

Stairway To Heaven (Live in Berlin 1980)

An extraordinary performance. Page’s solo on this last ever 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. Sometimes I still shout up there at that mass of blue and go ’’That was not a very good trick’’

Hear It : Last Stand (Toasted Condor bootleg)

”Listening to John Bonham, well that always  makes me smile ”- Jimmy Page Olympic Studios Led Zeppelin Reissue playback March 2014

Compiled by Dave Lewis

………………………….

 

John Bonham 42 Years Gone today…

To mark the 42nd anniversary of the passing of John Bonham here’s some personal recollections from myself and long time TBL contributor Gary Davies…

The Optimism, The irony and the Agony

Dave Lewis reflects on the personal impact and aftermath of the events of Thursday September 25th, 1980.

I was just turned 24 years old and so far 1980 had been a rollercoaster year for me for many reasons.

Back in the early autumn it’s fair to say Tight But Loose, the Led Zeppelin magazine I had established in late ’78 was on something of a roll. It was turning into a very exciting year on all things Zeppelin. Issue 4 had been issued in April – the first A4 size issue with professional printing. I’d built a strong rapport with their Swan Song office managed by Unity Maclean and in the summer I’d been lucky enough to view five of the Over Europe shows at very close quarters.

I’d spoken to John Bonham a few times during the tour – and on our last night in Munich as we all revelled in a night club, John wrote down his phone number and told me to call him when we got back in the UK (That piece of paper written on a German hotel note pad page with his name and number on remains one of my most treasured possessions). I remember vividly him giving us an affectionate big bear hug as we left the club that night.

On Thursday July 24th I phoned him at Cutnall Green. We had a long conversation. John was very happy with the way the Europe tour had gone and was now looking forward to a holiday. He told me there was a group meeting due the next day to discuss what was to happen next. He said to call during August for more news. During that second call in late August, John strongly hinted they would be returning to America in the autumn.

When the first dates were announced in early September I’d already made up my mind to go. I was planning on the Landover/Philadelphia dates. I was constantly in touch with Swan Song that month and on Thursday September 18th I visited the office to take in some early text of the forthcoming Tight But Loose issue. Jimmy Page was at the office that day and I spent over half and hour with him one on one in the inner sanctum of their plush interview room. He talked enthusiastically of their plans and showed me a model set up of their new lighting and stage rig. The model was complete with a miniature representation of each of them on stage. I asked him about the ongoing chronological live project and he told me he had been looking at some footage to go with the tracks. He also said that the outtakes from the last album were still under consideration to use in some format. An album and UK dates in 1981 were also planned.

I wrote down hurriedly the content of our conversation that early evening and one quote stands out: ”I feel there is a lot more to do simply because this band thrives on a challenge – you’ve only go to look at Presence for that”

The following Tuesday I phoned Unity at Swan Song for the latest news. Unity informed me they were commencing rehearsals in Bray Studios later in the week. Excitedly I took down notes on a piece of paper as she told me all this. I still have that note – a reminder of the optimism of that time. Unity told me there may be a possibility for me to attend rehearsals the next Tuesday. Now that would be something very special.

Tight But Loose 5 was to be an Over Europe special with a 10,000 word report of the tour formulated from the five gigs I’d witnessed. I’d been working on it fairly non stop since August and it was nearly complete. I spent the next two days finishing up the lay out – these were the days when I cut it all in myself scrapbook style to be printed.

On Thursday September 25th (with huge irony) I finalised the closing news item which I’d written on September 22th –  ”By the time you are reading this” it stated, ”Zeppelin will be mid way through a 4 week trek across the US” It was all ready to go. I was ecstatic and with good reason.

All that was left was to write the editorial – here it is:

This editorial piece is full of optimism for the future and reveals my plan to stage a Led Zeppelin UK fan convention. That idea would eventually come to fruition some 12 years later when the inspirational Andy Adams and I staged such an event in London in May 1992.

These words that I wrote this week in 1980 for this planned TBL 5 editorial would prove to be very poignant:

‘’Suffice to say that come the day (and it will come), the band set foot on homeland soil with this set, expect something special. This 1980 Led Zeppelin is looking very healthy’’

The sad passing of John Bonham on September 25 1980 would render this editorial obsolete. I would have to write an entirely different version the next week.

 

So by the afternoon of September 25 1980 it was already to go. I was ecstatic and with good reason.

The mag was ready to print, there was a chance I may even get to see them in rehearsal the next week and America beckoned in October.

All that optimism and hope would evaporate over the next few hours.

The first call came just after 7pm. Carolyn Longstaff from Newcastle, one of the initial Tight But Loose subscribers told me the shocking news she’d just heard. John Bonham had been found dead at Jimmy Page’s Windsor home. I refused to believe it. ”How can it be?” I explained ”They are in Bray rehearsing” .

I said I’d make some calls. I was in my bedroom so I turned on the radio and waited for the 7.30 news on Radio One. Surely if it was true it would be a lead item. It wasn’t and for a few seconds I hung on to the hope it was all a mistake. Then it happened:

”This news just in. Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham has been found dead….”

I just couldn’t believe it. I rushed down to my Mum and Dad in a state of shock. The phone was constantly ringing from other fans and even a couple of radio stations in America wanting confirmation. Later I met up with my fellow Bedford Earls Court vets Dec and Tom also both shocked and stunned. I spent the night at Dec’s finally going to sleep around 4am.

In the morning in a daze I walked the two miles home stopping in a newspaper shop (further irony – the shop is a stones throw from the house where years later I would move to). There in all the papers was the devastating news in cold hard print. The Daily Mail had a picture of Bonzo on stage at Earls Court on the front ….

I sat on a nearby bench and cried.

The next 48 hours passed in a blur. I stayed at my brothers on Friday. I was too upset to go to work until Monday. I did somehow manage to turn out for soccer on Sunday morning. I couldn’t let my team mates down and got through it (we won 10-1 but it mattered little). My world had turned upside down. Zeppelin had been so much a part of it for so long and it was gone.

There was no way it could continue without Bonzo. I did not consider them carrying on from the moment I heard the news.

The was grief from all quarters. Obviously for John’s family, the group and their entourage. Selfishly I guess also for myself – matters were further compounded on a personal level as I was undergoing the aftermath and fall out of an intense love affair that had dominated the last few months. The lady concerned re appeared that weekend worried after the catastrophic news knowing I’d be upset. It gave me false hope we might rekindle the affair. That was definitely not on her agenda. More misery.

I rang Unity at Swan Song on Monday. She was very supportive and informed me they all felt the magazine should go out as soon as possible. I wrote a new editorial which was one of the most painful things I’ve ever written.

I did think about going to the funeral but decided against it. It was just all too much. The press reaction was another difficult factor to deal with. I had several calls to give quotes out. There was a terrible story in the Evening Standard stating Page’s occult interest as the reason for their bad karma. They ran a picture of tour manager Rex King captioned as Bonzo which showed their ignorance of it all.

Overall the press coverage in the music weeklies was somewhat muted. There were no big four page tributes or special supplements. I think it gave them the opportunity to brush Zep under the carpet and concentrate on the new wave acts they were now all championing.

Looking back there was little sharing of grief with other fans. This was of course pre Internet days and even though I was in contact with a lot of fans, I think we all found it hard to take in. I also initially found it difficult to play any Zep at first. It was all too painful but eventually there was solace in the music. That above everything still remained.

Life for all of us had to go on.

The next few weeks saw the distribution of the magazine and I was in constant contact with   the Swan Song office. I visited a few times over the next few months – one very wierd afternoon on Friday November 14th when they had just come back from Jersey. All the roadies were in the office having been informed it was over though that was all being kept secret for the moment. Everyone there just seemed without a purpose.

And of course officially on Thursday December 4th came the inevitable statement.

Looking back to that bleak September day all these years later, it was a life changing turn of fate for all of us. Looking at my diary from those times I think I went through something of a minor breakdown during the weeks and months afterwards. There were some dark days though gradually things got better.

The positive reaction to TBL 5 did motivate me to continue with the magazine into 1981 but it was very hard to keep the enthusiasm going knowing the very subject matter of the magazine was now history. It was never going to be the same and dealing with fragments of solo careers, separate entourages etc in the end wore me down. Issue 6 came out in the August – I didn’t plan to stop producing it and looking back I dearly wish I’d kept going.

Motivation levels were low and though it’s hard to believe now, surprisingly Zeppelin became very unfashionable in that era. The magnitude of just what they had created would not become apparent until much later in the decade and beyond- by which time I’d produced the A Celebration book and got the magazine back in print for the very belated (ten year interval!) issue 7.

I tried to find something to fill the void before all that – turned my hand to playing in a band as I’d long harboured a notion to become a drummer myself (more irony!) but it never really got off the ground.

By the time Robert had got his solo album together in 1982 it was evident my desire to chronicle their work separately was still very strong.

This thing wasn’t going to go away. There was Coda, Pictures At Eleven, The Firm, JPJ’s Scream For Help etc to assess . My first book, a best of Tight But Loose compendium The Final Acclaim was published in the autumn of 1983. Within all that I got married. Luckily the good lady knew what she was coming into!

The real tuning point was perhaps again ironically Live Aid. While it was so apparent by the performance that it could never be Led Zeppelin without Bonzo – the whole chaotic drama of the occasion threw the whole Zep legacy back into the spotlight.

I think that was the moment we all knew it still meant something – and would continue to mean something to subsequent generations. And of course part of the reason it does so is the contribution of John Bonham. In the intervening years his groundbreaking percussive skills have been rightly acclaimed, imitated and sampled.

It’s the immense musicianship that he brought to Led Zeppelin that will ensure his legacy.

Take a look at the any YouTube footage of John…. on stage tearing through Moby Dick at the Albert Hall, the pure joy of his intro and sparring with Jimmy during The Ocean at the Garden, the intense concentration during In My Time Of Dying at Earls Court, the smiles and pure joy of Rock And Roll at Knebworth.

…and remember him this way

John Bonham was the true driving force behind Led Zeppelin and he will never be forgotten.

Dave Lewis, September 23,2021

…………………………

 John Bonham Remembered : How I wish the 1970s had never ended…

Gary Davies recalls his experiences and reaction to the tragedy of John Bonham’s death as a Led Zeppelin fan growing up in the Midlands area John hailed from

Like many rock music fans of my generation I remember wishing that the 1970s would never end. For us it was an era of total immersion into the world of “rock” – nothing much else in life mattered in those days. For the denim-clad brigade of rockers aged between fifteen and twenty five, the mid to late 1970s was all about the Zep, The Who, Purple, Sabbath, Priest, Queen, UFO, AC/DC, Budgie, Rush, Scorpions, etc., all of whom were being blasted out on BBC radio by those two legendary champions of rock, Alan Freeman and Tommy Vance. So there I was back in the late 70’s earning twenty quid a week as a fork lift truck driver in a warehouse, going out most nights frequenting the rock establishments of Birmingham city centre. I’d have three quid in my pocket, enough for a live band and a few pints of “snake bite” at my favourite rock venue ‘Bogarts’.

Of course, let’s not forget that at that time we found ourselves in the middle of the punk revolution; the Pistols, Gen-X, Clash, Sham 69, et-al. The “filth and the fury” of it all, the spitting and snarling of the safety pin generation had well and truly arrived, and it was wonderful to behold. I never really was into Genesis, Yes, ELP, the opulence ofRick Wakeman’s ice skating Legends of King Arthur theatrical performances, and neither were the punks. In fact, they hated all the Prog-Rock hippy type of bands, and it was unfortunate that they tended to lump Zeppelin into that category, too. The Zep were all too aware of the perception of them as rock dinosaurs, but to their credit, instead of disappearing from view like so many of the established rock giants of the time, they actually engaged themselves with the likes of Generation X and The Damned, with Page, Plant, and Bonham having watched the latter perform at The Roxy club in early 1977. Punk and New Wave was all around and I, like many of my peers, indulged myself in the genre, and in 1978 I made my TV (audience) debut on ATV’s ‘Revolver’ programme! There I was watching The Stranglers and X-Ray Specs, and having a chat with Billy Idol at the side of the stage. Heady days!

Those were good times, but as a Zeppelin fan, for me it got even better. The next year, in April 1979, I got to see Page, Plant, and Bonham jamming on stage with Bad Company at the Birmingham Odeon. There I was at the very front leaning on the stage with Jimmy Page stood in front of my very eyes, no more than three feet away! I couldn’t believe this was happening!


And then came the gargantuan spectacle of those two shows at Knebworth; the ultimate coming together of the masses all at one in perfect synchronicity with the gods on stage. The Knebworth experience was simply incredible, and it served to underline time and again why I did not want the 1970s to end. I’ve never been one for toasting in the New Year, let alone a new decade, and the arrival of 1980 was no exception. Following the winter of discontent and the general election defeat of James Callaghan’s Labour government in May 1979, there was a feeling of trepidation of what would lie ahead under Thatcher’s Britain as we entered into a New Year. Still, I thought, as long as I had my rock music (especially Zeppelin), then things would be ok. How wrong I would be….

1980 had barely got into its stride when on Tuesday, February 19th, the shocking news came through that AC/DC’s frontman, Bon Scott, had died. He’d been drinking heavily the night before and had fell asleep in the back of a friend’s car, only to be found dead the next morning. The cause of death was reportedly acute alcoholic poisoning. He was just thirty three years of age. I couldn’t believe it, and neither could the local AC/DC fan contingent who gathered at Bogarts that Tuesday night, openly sobbing their hearts out at the sad news. I remember being a bit bewildered at the sight of witnessing grown tattooed rockers openly displaying such levels of grief. I mean, they didn’t know Bon Scott, did they? It wasn’t like that he was
family or anything. I really thought that type of open expression of emotion only happened in the States, like when Elvis died back in ’77. However, as the days went by I actually felt very sad for my AC/DC mates and I grew to understand where they were coming from – it was THEIR band after all, and everything seemed to have come to a grinding halt in their lives when Bon died. I imagined how I would’ve felt if such a tragedy would ever befall a member of Zeppelin, the mere thought of which made me feel quite sick. So I really did feel for the AC/DC fans, and it’s true to say that Bon’s untimely death did cast a dark cloud over the world of heavy rock for a while, particularly in the weeks and months that followed.

It didn’t end there though, because three months later the twenty three year old lead singer of Joy Division, Ian Curtis, committed suicide. Two months after that, in July, the lead singer of The Ruts, Malcolm Owen, died of a heroin overdose. He was only twenty five years of age. The air of gloom, which was all too apparent in the immediate aftermath of Bon Scott’s death, returned once again. Still, for me, business eventually got back to normal and thoughts turned to acquiring cassette tape audience recordings of some of Zeppelin’s recent over Europe campaign shows. They started filtering in as the weeks passed by, and as the summer months drew to a close the handful of recordings I’d managed to get provided many an evenings’ worth of entertainment for me as the dark evenings gradually returned. However, unbeknown to me things were about to get even darker…

On the morning of September 26th, I got up and headed out the door to go to work. There was a newsagent’s shop around the corner from where I lived, and it had probably been six or seven years since I’d been into this particular shop. However, for whatever reason I decided to go in to buy a packet of cigarettes. As I walked in, I looked around, and it was like as if I’d been transported back in time to the mid 1970’s; same decor, same smell, and same selection of sweetie jars on the counter. As I approached the counter the couple who ran the shop recognised me straight away and they both smiled and started talking to me, saying that they hadn’t seen me in there for a while. Then, as I asked for my packet of cigarettes I glanced down at the counter and saw all the newspapers displaying pictures of John Bonham against the various headlines i.e. ‘Led Zeppelin Drummer Found Dead in Bed’, Numbness, dizziness, and complete and utter shock, were what hit me. I looked back up and the nice couple serving were still happily chatting to me but I couldn’t hear a damn word they were saying. I
grabbed a couple of the tabloids, got my ciggies, settled up what I owed and I was out of there. I’ve never been back into that Newsagent’s shop since then, and I never will. My memory of that morning of September 26th, is pretty much a blur. I went to work that morning but I just couldn’t focus on anything. My so-called work friends found the whole “dead rock star” episode quite a source of amusement, especially one young punk pretender who had been persecuted himself (by others) some twenty months before when Sid Vicious died. In his
mind it was now payback time, and I had to suffer various jibes from him during the course of the morning – he knew I was a big fan of Led Zeppelin. I’d had enough, and by lunchtime I made my excuses that I wasn’t feeling well (which I wasn’t) and went home. I slapped Presence onto the turntable, blasted out ‘Achilles Last Stand’ and cried my little heart out.

That evening I went into the city centre and into Bogarts. All my friends were there and we ended up all slumped on the floor by the bar in one emotional heap, clutching our pints and the tears flooded out once more while the resident DJ dedicated the whole evening to Bonzo. It was Zeppelin all night. My vision that night was mostly blurred by a mixture of endless tears and the alcohol taking effect, but I do remember seeing those tattooed AC/DC rockers present that evening in Bogarts, these being the same guys who cried openly for their hero some seven months previously. Now I could really identify with tragedy of how they all felt back then. Tears for Elvis, tears for Bon, and now tears for Bonzo…

The air of gloom returned once again, darker than ever before. The days and weeks that followed were truly miserable, mainly spent in my bedroom playing Zep non-stop and looking through all my Zeppelin scrapbooks of the hundreds of cuttings I’d collected over the previous few years. Unfortunately there were now a few more newspaper cuttings to add to my
scrapbook collection.

On a wet dank morning of October 10th 1980, five of us crammed into my mates’ sister’s mini and we headed off to the Parish Church of St Michael in Rushock, near Kidderminster. It was the day of John’s funeral and we went along to pay our respects to him. When we arrived, my mate’s sister carefully removed the small three-circled wreath from the car that the five of us chipped in to buy. When we proceeded towards the church we came across two other young fans that had travelled just a short distance from Droitwich, and they were there to also pay their respects to Bonzo. As described in Howard Mylett’s Led Zeppelin biography (second edition) all those years ago he mentions about “seven drenched fans standing in the rain outside Rushock Church…”. As we all made our way towards the church we saw a TV crew outside. ATV had despatched one of their local reporters, Rob Golding, to cover the funeral of John Bonham. Rob approached us and asked us if he could do an interview with us for that evenings’ local news programme, ATV Today. After a bit of debate between us we all agreed. I hadn’t expected that my second appearance on TV in as many years would be under such tragic circumstances. We were asked if we could wander back up the lane a little so the camera could take a wide shot of the seven of us walking towards the church grounds with the wreath. We did this and Rob then conducted a short interview with us, only to be cut short due to the noise of an aeroplane flying overhead. I figured that maybe it was the Starship doing a fly-by in its own tribute to Bonzo! “Errr, I’m sorry, but could we do that again please?”, asked Rob. So, cold and a little soaked, we wandered back up the lane and did the whole thing again. The filmed piece was then despatched off to ATV studios and was broadcast that evening. We caught glimpses of the other band members and family going into the church for the service, and then we waited outside for the duration, just stood there in our own silent tribute to our fallen hero.

A while later after the service was finished, the church emptied and family and friends got into their cars. We spotted Roy Wood, who got into his Range Rover, which was adjacent to where we were parked, and we followed him all the way to the crematorium in Worcester. When we arrived, quite by accident I found myself walking beside an inconsolable Jimmy, and
Charlotte, who were flanked by two minders. As we advanced towards the crematorium, there was about one hundred or so fans and press waiting outside. The whole area was awash with flowers and wreaths, including one sent by Paul and Linda McCartney. Their floral tribute spelt out the name JOHN. Just under three months later on December 8th, I remember thinking how sadly ironic that wreath design was. As my five friends caught up with me, we all walked into a packed crematorium. When inside, I stood right at the back of the hall crushed up against Cozy Powell. We exchanged a glance and a nod as I took my position next to him. Straight ahead seated about ten rows in front were the other three band members and Peter Grant. At the front sat the Bonham family. The service proceeded with everyone focussing on John’s coffin at the front of the hall. It was then time for the actual cremation to take place. John’s mother, Joan, was totally overcome with grief  and understandably – tragically Joan who died earlier this year, would find herself going through this agony again when John’s brother Mick died in 2000.

John Bonham’s death was a gut wrenching life changing event for me personally, and I can honestly say that I have never ever truly got over got it. Although many fans have travelled far and wide to visit the final resting place of John Bonham I have never been back to Rushock cemetery myself, even though it’s only a few miles away from where I live. Why? Well, I have always thought of John’s final resting place as a private place for family to visit a lost loved one, not for fans, but also because I’ve always thought that if I ever did go and visit his grave it would unlock all those terrible tragic memories I have of what I personally experienced 30 years previously. Such is the depth of raw emotion I still feel about his passing and, I guess, the love I still have for him. He was a remarkable man, and he was only just thirty two years of age. Bonzo, thirty years ago and even way before, was always my hero, my favourite member of the group just simply for his incredible drumming. It was a fitting tribute to him that thirty years after his death John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham was crowned as the UK nation’s favourite drummer on BBC TV’s ‘I’m in a Rock ‘N’ Roll Band’.

Oh, how I still wish that the 1970s had never ended. But now, as the years have passed and having learned so much more about him, I also admire the type of guy he was i.e. not just a rock star but also an ordinary builder-type down to earth bloke from the Black Country out to have a good time in life, have a few beers with the lads and earn a decent crust for his kith and kin who he loved so dearly. He was a decent bloke, was Bonzo, and he remains my ultimate hero on so many levels.

Head, heart, and hands: John Henry Bonham. You will never be forgotten.

Gary Davies

First published in TBL issue 27 –September 2010.

Postscript from Gary:

As the 41st anniversary of John’s passing arrives, there is something about ‘time’ that is all too strange. In the 41 years since 1980 there’s a lot in that time span that I should be able to remember, and with some degree of clarity. But, as these years have passed by, many life events during that time are not readily retrievable in one’s mind. Yet, those tragic events of September 1980 remain as clear to me now at the age of 58, as they were back then at the age of 18. This thing called ‘time’ has not done anything to diminish the clarity of those events from my mind. They were just too big, and their effect is ongoing through time.

I always have, and I always will, continue to watch and listen to John Bonham – His beats continue to provide me with the soundtrack to my life. He still knocks me for six when I hear something new – I’m just in awe of him. His playing at times was just simply astounding.

41 years on from when I stood outside Rushock Parish Church on October 10th as a heartbroken fan, the time for reflection has arrived once more…

Gary Davies

Many thanks to Gary for all his input – he has done the legacy of John Bonham proud over so many years…

……………………………………….

My Final thoughts:

John Bonham 42 years  – and yes it does seem like a lifetime but a second. In the early years of the anniversary I always busied myself on the day. 30 years ago on the first anniversary, I  went to see New Order at Walthamstow Assembly Hall. I hooked up with the Bedford New Order clan led by my good friend Dec. I knew the times were a changing when New Order’s entire set ran the same length as a standard Dazed And Confused. A year later on the anniversary, I completed in the Bedford half marathon. Today there will be more reflection on the tragic events of September 25th 1980 – but as I always say…so much has gone but so much remains…

Four years ago thanks to Michael Rae, I was able to visit John’s grave on the 37th anniversary. ..here’s my thoughts on that day…

Visiting John Bonham’s grave on September 25 2017 – 37 years gone …

At very short notice, the opportunity arose last weekend to visit John Bonham’s grave – 37 years to the day of his passing.

Long time TBL supporter Michael Rae and his son Lachlan have been over on holiday from Australia -part of their intinery was to visit John’s grave. They very kindly asked me to go travel with them. So on Monday morning, Michale,Lachlan and Michael’s London based brother, David picked me up in Bedford and we headed for the Midlands. We arrived at St Michael and All Angels church in Rushock around 1pm. On entering the church, we noticed a fellow visitor by his Led Zep III t shirt -Warren recognised me and we had a chat. Warren had also visited Raglan Castle the scene of Robert’s fantasy sequence in the Song Remains The Same film.

Warren left us to head over to the graveyard to pay our respects.

I have never ever visited the grave before. Back in 1980 I made the decision not to go to the funeral – I was just too worn down with it all – looking back I do regret that. I have had mixed personal feelings about visiting the the grave since but today it all felt right…

The grave stands fairly alone overlooking some beautiful green and pleasant land. I of course, had seen many pictures of the gravestone but seeing it close up with the many drumsticks left and the cymbals left by visitors …well it was incredibly moving and emotional.

I had bought with me a simple plaque based on the TBL issue 38 limited edition cover. It read as follows:

John Bonham 1948 – 1980

Remembering John 37 years gone

The cherished memories of your life remain the same…

Always remembered, always loved

Dave Lewis

Michael Rae

Lachlan Rae

David Rae

September 25, 2017

On behalf of Led Zeppelin fans everywhere

I did feel a real responsibly to be representing Led Zeppelin fans the world over on this 37th anniversary and I duly placed the plaque by the headstone.

We took some photos and then Michael, Lachlan and David went into the church to sign the visitors book.

I had a few moments alone – I looked at the grave and out across the beautiful view, the weather was cloudy and dull but in a warming autumnal way.

As I looked out across the Worcestershire countryside in this serene churchyard, I thought what had been lost to us all that day 37 years ago. There were many voices and visons in my head

”We’ve done four already and now we’re  steady…”

John at Knebworth in the laser light creating the dramatic intro to In the Evening..

Watching him at the side of the stage in Frankfurt in 1980 as he relentlessly drove them through the finale of Kashmir…

Hugging me in the Munich night club and wishing us a safe journey home.

Telling me how pleased he was the way the Over Europe tour had gone and how much they were looking forward to touring America again in a phone call I made to him in August 1980….


”We could not continue as we were”

Deborah Bonham’s performance of The Old Hyde at the 1992 Led Zeppelin Convention…

Jason’s bow in tribute at the end of Rock’n’Roll at the 02 reunion…

Jimmy’s 2014 comment ”Listening to John Bonham, well that always  makes me smile”

So many memories of how so much was lost and yet how so much remains.

I put my hand on the gravestone, told him how much we all loved him and walked away…

This is what I wrote in the visitors book:

John Bonham – the heart and soul of Led Zeppelin ….then, now and forever

DL – September 28, 2017

 

Back to Rushock Sunday September 26 2021…

Here’s the story of our visit last year when amazingly, we met and spoke to Pat Bonham at the graveside…

In the morning, Steve drove us to Rushock to visit John Bonham’s grave. I have been once before via visiting Australian fan Michael Rae back in 2017.

I was a bit apprehensive about going as it had already been a highly emotional few days what with Andy’s funeral. However I am very glad I did.

It was peaceful and serene and myself, the good lady Janet, Steve, Anne Marie and Ian were able to have time to reflect and gather our thoughts in the beautiful surroundings of the Rushock countryside.

It was evident that John Couglan’s Quo had also visited the grave as there were flowers laid with a poignant note attached – how lovely that one veteran drummer had acknowledged a fellow much missed percussionist. This was made all the more poignant with the news that had just broken of the passing of original Status Quo bassist Alan Lancaster.

After we had been there a few minutes I saw a lady walking towards the grave – I knew who it was immediately – it was John’s widow Pat.

She recognised me (I’ve met her a few times) and I introduced her to Janet, Ian  and Steve and Anne Maria. Pat told us she visited the grave yesterday and was back for some more quiet reflection We had a very warm and trily emotional conversation – it was a very special moment indeed one of those times when it was just meant to be…an unforgettable memory…

Dave Lewis – September 28,2021

John Bonham 1948 – 1980 Always loved…Always remembered…Always played…

Dave Lewis – September 2022

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

LedZep News

Here’s the latest Led ZepNews Update:

Led Zeppelin

  • Previously unseen photos of Robert Plant playing Jimmy Page’s “Black Beauty” Gibson Les Paul guitar during a soundcheck for Led Zeppelin’s March 26, 1970 show were published online.
  • A new Led Zeppelin photo book titled “Led Zeppelin Live Times 1969-1979” featuring unseen photos by Robert Ellis will be published in October.

Robert Plant

Upcoming events:

September 27 – John Paul Jones will perform at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert in Los Angeles.
October – The expanded edition of “Led Zeppelin – Five Glorious Nights” by Dave Lewis will be published along with the new photo book “Led Zeppelin Live Times 1969-1979” by Robert Ellis.
October 19 – The French translation of “Led Zeppelin By Led Zeppelin” will be published.
October 25 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
October 27 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Cork, Ireland.
October 28 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Galway, Ireland.
October 30 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Sligo Live music festival in Sligo, Ireland.
October 31 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Dublin, Ireland.
November 2 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Wexford Spiegeltent Festival in Wexford, Ireland.
November 5 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Edinburgh, Scotland.
November 6 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Glasgow, Scotland.
November 8 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Aberdeen, Scotland.
November 9 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Perth, Scotland.
December 22 – The paperback edition of “Beast: John Bonham and the Rise of Led Zeppelin” by C.M Kushins will be published.
Early 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.

Many thanks to James Cook 

The complete Led ZepNews email goes out periodically. To receive it sign up here:http://tinyletter.com/LedZepNews

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

http://ledzepnews.com/

……………………….

DL Diary Blog Update:

Saturday September 17:

Saturday is platterday – with the anniversary of his passing tomorrow –on the player the rather brilliant Jimi Hendrix The Cry Of Love album…

Saturday September 17:

Saturday is platterday – on the player the superb 1973 Humble Pie double album Eat It…

Saturday  September 17:

The new issue of Classic Rock is in the house – Peter Frampton cover feature – count me in…

Saturday September 17:

That will do nicely…Spurs 6 Leicester 2 – Son 13 minute hat-trick…oh yes…

Monday September 19:

An early morning visit to the Bedford Floral Tribute site for The Queen in Russell Park …some very moving comments and pictures left amongst the flowers…

Monday September 19:

I read the news today oh boy…and the news was very sad…

Monday September 19:

A glorious, majestic, unforgettable and immensely moving last farewell…

Tuesday September 20:

Quick trip into London – of course there’s always time to visit the TBL office also known as The Spice of Life….

Tuesday September 20:

Quick trip into London and now in the TBL office also known as The Spice Of Life and could not resist this beauty from the nearby Fopp Records – the new Pink Floyd Animals remix complete with Fopp staff pick sticker – oh yes!

Update here:

An emotional few days with the final goodbye to her Majesty the Queen.

I’ve been back working full on with the collation of the forthcoming revised and expanded Five Glorious Nights -Led Zeppelin at Earls Court May 1975 book. We have relayed the May 23 section with some fantastic previously unseen photos and work is ongoing to expand it further – more news on this as it unfolds…

Thanks for listening 

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis – September 22  2022

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

Follow TBL/DL on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tightbutloose.loose

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One Comment »

  • Steve Hall said:

    Thanks for the John Bonham memorial words, Dave.

    I remember the day well, although I didn’t believe it at first! I’d been to a darts match with a mate, and we went back to his house for a nightcap and his daughter collared me as we went through the door to tell me that it had been on the news that night. She was always winding me up, so I didn’t believe her at first!! Of course, when I picked up my newspaper on the way to work the next morning it was the first story I read so I was absolutely devastated.
    Like you and Gary, I pulled out all my cassettes and played them one after the other over the next few days just wallowing in the sadness of it all, especially as there seemed to be a lot of positivity around the proposed US tour and the potential for British gigs later on. Most of my workmates and ‘pub’ friends couldn’t understand why I was so upset about his death, but I guess as it wasn’t a family member or close friend it must seem illogical to be upset over someone who I never met or knew personally. Ironically, later in the year when John Lennon was assassinated, a few of them suddenly ‘got it’! Although I only live about 10 miles from the church, I’ve never been to see his grave but it’s on my bucket list.

    I can’t believe its 42 years ago, though! I was 28 at the time and, given my lifestyle in the ’70’s, I never expected to be still here at 70 either!!

    John Bonham was a legend, and my two favourite memories are:

    His drum solo at the Albert Hall in 1970 on the DVD – it was the first time that I’d seen that, and I literally stood and applauded at the end of it as if I was actually in the audience;

    His drum solo at Earls Court (18/05/1975) when I WAS actually in the audience and was mesmerised by what I was watching on the big screen.

    Never to be forgotten.

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