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John Bonham 40 Years Gone today…

To mark the 40th 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 22nd 2010

John Bonham 40 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 (who incidentally is readying an updated version of his New Order book From Heaven To Heaven). 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 anniverary, I completed in the Bedford half marathon. Today at some point, I will have some quiet reflection on the tragic events of September 25th 1980 – but as I always say…so much has gone but so much remains…

 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 40th anniversary of John’s passing arrives, there is something about ‘time’ that is all too strange. In the 40 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.

Ten years on from when I last visited John’s final resting place to pay my respects, and 40 years on from when I stood outside Rushock Parish Church on October 10th as a heartbroken fan, the time for silent reflection has arrived once more. Today I will make the pilgrimage to Cutnall Green once again to pay my respects to the memory of my ultimate hero, John Henry Bonham.

Gary Davies

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


Remembering John Bonham 40 years gone today…

To mark the 40th anniversary of his passing, I’ve rounded up 40 examples of his 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…40 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)

 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 (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)

 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 IVv (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)

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 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)

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)


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 (Warners)

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)

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 )

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)

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

Compiled by Dave Lewis


My Final thoughts:

John Bonham 40 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 at some point, I will have some quiet reflection on the tragic events of September 25th 1980 – but as I always say…so much has gone but so much remains…

Three years ago thanks to Michael Rae, I was able to visit John’s grave on the 37th anniversary.’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 commentListening 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


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

Dave Lewis – September 25, 2020


John Bonham 40 years Gone – 40th Anniversary Commemorative Tribute Video:

This is a superb and very moving video compiled by Gary Davies – he has done John’s legacy proud – be sure to watch it -it brought tears to my eyes…

View it here:

September 25 Update:

Gary Davies visited John Bonham’s grave this morning at Rushock. He left a some flowers with a card on my behalf and all TBL people that says:

‘’ John Henry Bonham 40 years gone but always remembered. From the readers of Tight But Loose.’’


John Bonham A Commemoration 2020 Update:


This one from organiser Ros Sidaway a couple of weeks back:

“Hello everyone, firstly thank you for your patience at this difficult time for live music.

Following the postponement of the JBAC II theatre performances, we had instead hoped to stage an outdoor ticketed music event for around 450 people on Saturday 26th September.
However, despite our best efforts we have not been able to secure a licence from the local Council for anything near that number of people, meaning we would not be able to cover the costs, which are higher due to Covid measures, for staging the event.
So that means Plan C…..
John Bonham A Commemoration Weekend:
Thursday 24th Sept.

Thursday 24th September  8pm BST “Local Lad – Global Rock Legend”

 A short film (50 mins) about John’s early life in Redditch and on the Birmingham music scene pre-Led Zeppelin. With exclusively recorded clips from Bev Bevan, Carmine Appice & others.

Here’s the link to view this informative and moving film…
Friday 25th Sept
Candlelight gathering around John’s Memorial in the heart of Redditch town centre. 7pm.

This will be streamed live via our facebook page for fans around the world.

Saturday 26th Sept

A small live music gathering (maximum 60 people) on the terrace outside The Black Tap from 1pm – 7pm. Picnic tables hold up to 6 adults. To reserve a table,  once you have a group of 5/6, call or text 07857 297907. No tickets but we will be seeking  donations towards costs from each table.
This will be streamed live via our facebook page for fans around the world.

Facebook link:

 Please note the Friday & Saturday evening tributes have very limited capacity due to social distancing restrictions.


All seats for next Saturday afternoon’s outdoor John Bonham As Commemoration event at the Black Tap Redditch are NOW FULLY BOOKED.

If you have seat reserved, please try this arrive 30-45 mins before the start at 1pm.

You must remain seated throughout the event unless visiting the bar or the loo. Stay with your table of 6. Do

not mingle. Non compliance with these Covid19 restrictions will result in you being asked to leave the venue.

Please come prepared for the weather!

It’s a free event but please bring cash for donations, raffle tickets, etc and we ask you to support the bar in return for them hosting the event for us at this difficult time for hospitality venues.

Many to Ros and the team for all their efforts – I would so love to be there but with the current situation it’s not possible.

I will certainly be thinking of you all on Friday and Saturday….


This photo was taken on John’s Birthday May 31, 2018 at the John Bonham Memorial in Redditch – with Deborah Bonham.



Robert Plant Digging Deep Podcast:

The fifth and final episode in the third podcast series of Robert Plant Digging Deep is available now. Robert talks about Tool Cool One and answers some questions. This is taken from the live recording of the Q and A event staged at the Rough Trade East record shop in London on February 27 – an event I was lucky enough to attend.


Robert Plant on Jools Holland -BBC 2 Friday October 2:

Robert Plant is featured on the Later with Jools Holland show talking about his musical journey on BBC 2 next Friday October 2.


Jimmy Page on Paul Smith:

Jimmy Page was featured in a piece in the Financial Times earlier this week talking about his friendship with the legendary fashion designer Paul Smith. Thanks to Krys Jantzen for spotting that one.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the official launch of the Paul Smith Led Zeppelin Limited Edition Scarves at the Paul Smith store in Albermarle Street in London in October 2014.

Jimmy was on great form mingling with the guests and with Paul Smith. His Gibson number one guitar and double neck were also on display. Here’s a pic from that memorable night.

Classic Rock Podcast on Led Zeppelin IV:

I did some research work on this with the great Nicky Horne a few weeks ago…here’s all the info:

Classic Rock’s new podcast continues to examine the biggest-selling albums of all time, with a new episode on the glory, the mystery and the “hippy-Hobbity sh*t” of Led Zeppelin IV

The second episode of Classic Rock‘s new podcast The 20 Million Club is out now: a look at Led Zeppelin IV.

Hosted by British broadcasting legend Nicky Horne, The 20 Million Club also features guests appearances from the Classic Rock team, with every episode exploring one of the biggest-selling rock albums of all time.

The first episode saw the team discuss AC/DC’s Back In Black. Episode 2 focuses on Led Zeppelin‘s 4th album.

Released in November 1971, it was housed in an anonymous sleeve, with no band name and no album title. The record company delayed release for month, fearing that it was commercial suicide. It became the band’s best-selling album. Why? The team consider hype, black magic, stairways to heaven, “hippy-Hobbity shit”, the mysteries of the sleeve art and more.

The 20 Million Club can be listened to right now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. There will be five more episodes to come in this season. Subscribe to never miss an episode and please leave a review.


LZ News:

Led Zeppelin News Update:

For all the latest Zep and related news check out the Led Zeppelin news website at;


Cat Stevens on Chris Charlesworth’s blog:

I am really enjoying the new Cat Stevens/Yusuf Tea For The Tillerman 2 the splendid remake of the original album. Here’s an excellent overview of the album via Chris Charlesworth’s always excellent Just Backdated blog …check it out at:


Record Store Day Drop 2:

The second of the three Record Store Day drops takes place this Saturday. The available product is much less than the August drop. I cannot say I have much heart for it all given recent circumstances but I will be searching out one or two of the planned releases – I am particular keen to obtain The Yardbirds expanded issue of the 1966 Roger The Engineer album.


DL Diary Blog Update:

Friday September 18:

Friday treats at the Vinyl Barn…

At the always excellent Vinyl Barn this morning I was well pleased to find a copy of Pop Revolution From The Underground, a German early 1970s CBS sampler album pressed on multi coloured vinyl featuring the likes of Moby Grape, Mike Bloomfield, Blood,Sweat And Tears, Spirit, Al Cooper and more.

I have a few in the CBS sampler series so this is a much welcomed addition – I also could not leave a Julie Driscoll cassette in the racks… thanks Darren!

Friday September 18:

Remembering the late great legendary Jimi Hendrix 50 years gone today…

On the player the brilliant live album Hendrix In The West. I bought this from Carlows Records in Bedford in June 1972 aged 15 with one of my first pay packets when I started work at British Home Stores. A hefty £2.15 from my £11.50 weekly pay but of course all worth it – it still sounds amazing….

Satuday September 19:

Saturday is platterday…on the player Yusuf/Cat Stevens Tea For the Tillerman 2 – a simply wonderful reimagined recording of the original 1970 album supplied by the ever brilliant Slide Record Shop in Bedford –thank you Nerys Bannister and Warren Alsop !

Saturday September 19:

It was 50 years ago today…

The full page advert Peter Grant took in the Melody Maker to mark Led Zeppelin’s success in the recent Melody Maker Poll Awards…as a 14 year old Led Zep fan I read this with much excitement and it was the first sighting of the forthcoming Led Zeppelin III sleeve..

’’Thank you for all for making us the World’s Number One Band’’….50 years on in my view they still are…

Sunday September 20:

It was 50 years ago…

Sunday is silver CD day…loading up the truly excellent Led Zeppelin Storming the Big Apple 4 CD bootleg set on the Eat a Peach label.

This captures good audience recordings of both the afternoon and evening shows of their Madison Square Garden appearances on September 19 1970 – all of 50 years ago…


Sunday September 20: 37 years ago tonight the good lady Janet and I were lucky enough to attend the ARMs benefit show inspired by Ronnie Lane which featured amongst others Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jeff Beck, Steve Winwood, Andy Fairweather Low, Bill Wyman and Ray Cooper…and Jimmy Page

It was an incredibly emotional occasion – seeing Jimmy perform a vocal less rendition of Stairway To Heaven was so moving. We were back the next night for the second concert.

Truly amazing occasions and the first in concert evidence that for Jimmy Page there was life after Led Zeppelin…

I’ve just watched the YouTube clip his clip again and it brought a lump to my throat …just as it did on that September night all of 37 years ago….

Monday September 21:

Always a welcome sound the new issue of Mojo dropping through the door – aside from the Queen front cover feature on the making of Bohemian Rhapsody, there’s some Robert Plant content.

His contribution to the regular All Back To My Place listing plus a four star review by Mark Blake of the Digging Deep: Subterranea compilation due out on October 2…

Tuesday September 22:

It was 40 years ago today:

A poignant piece of Led Zeppelin TBL history…

I came across this piece of TBL history recently. It’s the original paste up for a lead news story intended for Tight But Loose issue 5.

During this week in 1980, I was putting the finishing touches to TBL issue 5, an extensive Over Europe tour special.

I wrote this story on Monday September 22 based on information coming through from the Swan Song office at the time that informed me that Led Zeppelin were scheduled to undertake a number of concerts in the US beginning in mid October. I was already making plans to go to the US and catch at least a couple of the dates.

However, three days late John Bonham passed away and this story became obsolete – I had to revise the news pages to reflect the tragic circumstances that unfolded later that week..

Looking over it now there’s a huge poignancy to the story – particularly the lines ‘’It seems certain that by the time you are reading this Zeppelin will be mid-way through a 4 week trek across the US’’ and ‘’There is no doubt that following the Over Europe tour morale in the Zeppelin camp is as strong as ever’’

Little did I know as I pasted up this final news item onto the TBL 5 content in my bedroom, that sadly the optimism of this story was about to turn to agony…

Update here:

A difficult week for all of us in the UK with new measures introduced to try and curb the increased level of infection. It’s a very worrying time.

I have been feeling very anxious and have had some days of deep depression again. Once again the good lady Janet has been fantastic in her understanding – she has her own fears and challenges in running the pre- school and is also still in the throes of recovering from her broken leg.

I know we all share in the frustration of not being able to lead our lives as we would want to. With a type 2 diabetic condition I am in a higher risk category and need to be careful. I have felt very reticent to go out and about as I would for fear of being in contact with the infection. I would dearly love to be in Redditch to share the poignant events Ros and the John Bonham Memorial team have lined up. Having immensely enjoyed the past two events in Redditch staged in 2018 and 2019 at this time we were all geared up for a very special two days of events celebrating the 40th anniversary of John’s passing. Sadly it’s not to be.

Fundamentally our aim is to try and stay safe and well and my thoughts are with all of you in these trying times.

Some particular inspirations this past week:

A great catch up on the phone with Cliff ”The ticket man” Hilliard…

Playing the Cat Stevens Tea For The Tillerman 2 album early on Wednesday – it brought much needed serenity and inspiration…

Wading through so many amazing John Bonham performances in compiling the list of his 40 greatest beats…

Thanks for listening – stay safe and well you very lovely people…

Dave  Lewis – September 25, 2020

Until next time, stay safe and stay well…

Website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

Follow TBL/DL on Facebook:

The TBL/DL Facebook page has regular updates and photos – be sure to check it out

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  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Ian

  • Ian in NZ said:

    Great tribute video – thanks for that and the excellent words from Gary and Dave.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Steve

  • Steve Hall said:

    Thanks to you and Gary for your reminiscences on the day JB passed. I’d been to the pub with a couple of mates that night, so I didn’t hear about it till I got home and my mates daughter told me what she’d heard on the late news. I didn’t believe her at first and, like Gary, I read about it in the papers the next morning – no internet in those days, so news didn’t move as fast as it does now! Although I only live about 10 miles away, I haven’t been to visit Rushock church to pay my respects, illogically it always seems like an imposition on a families grief to go there, but maybe one day…………
    Tonight (25th) I would have been going to the first memorial event tomorrow (26th) would have been the 2nd event, but as you know they’ve been put back to next year now. Can’t go to the ad hoc events this weekend because my wife has had to ‘shield’ so doesn’t feel comfortable in crowds at the moment, but I’m sure it’ll be a fitting tribute to the late, great Bonzo!!

  • Lee Barker said:

    Hi Dave–first of all, thanks so much for the updates and well-written columns. Always a pleasure to read. My birthday happens to fall on the day of John Bonham’s passing, so it’s always poignant for me (Hendrix of course was one week earlier in 1970.) I remember all of it, as I am of a certain age now with you. I cannot even begin to imagine what must have gone through Page, Plant and Jones’ minds and thoughts when everything came to such a disasterous stop. I know, as a huge Zeppelin fan myself, I was stunned, but I also was pretty put off by the punk thing and backlash going on at the time. Then, John Lennon died. I truly believe it was the end of an era for those of us who grew up loving rock and roll as we know it (I don’t feel that Madonna and Co. even came anywhere close in the aftermath.) But, all that aside, the projects that Jimmy has lovingly released have been wonderful, your TBL is always wonderful, and we do have good memories to get us through the tough times (I share your ups and downs as well.) Bless you and your family–stay safe

  • Larry said:

    I was at work the day the news came down and I heard it on the radio…the DJ was halting in his speech and he said “I really love my job but as with any job there are times where I hate it, and this is one of those times. I have some very sad news to report…” and then he went on to break the news

    I was stunned…I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me, like a punch to the stomach…I made excuses and left work and went home. I kept the radio on hoping to hear that there had been some sort of mistake, but of course t was no mistake

    They played Zeppelin the rest of the day and night, nothing but Zeppelin…a few phone calls with friends were exchanged…finally I was just numb

    Some buddies and I were going to go to all four gigs at the Capital Centre…one buddy had some good connections and we knew we would be able to come up with some seats for the gigs

    And of course his death doesn’t make any more sense all these decades later, and certainly the other 3 Zeps have never gotten over it

    RIP to the greatest drummer of all time and all the best to his family on this sad anniversary

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