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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Moby Dick - John Bonham


John Henry Bonham (31 May 1948 – 25 September 1980) was an English musician and songwriter, best known as the drummer of Led Zeppelin. Bonham was esteemed for his speed, power, fast right foot, distinctive sound, and "feel" for the groove. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock music by many drummers, other musicians, and commentators in the industry. Over 30 years after his death, Bonham continues to garner awards and praise, including a Rolling Stone readers' pick in 2011 placing him in first place of the magazine's "best drummers of all time"

Bonham was born on 31 May 1948, in Redditch, Worcestershire, England, to Joan and Jack Bonham. He began learning to play drums at the age of five, making a drum kit out of containers and coffee tins, imitating his idols Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. His mother gave him a snare drum at the age of ten. He received his first proper drum kit from his father at fifteen, a Premier Percussion set. Bonham never took any formal drum lessons, though as a teen he would get advice from other Redditch drummers. Between 1962–63, while still at school, Bonham joined the Blue Star Trio, and Gerry Levene & the Avengers.
Bonham attended Lodge Farm Secondary Modern School, where his headmaster once wrote in his school report card that "He will either end up a dustman or a millionaire". After leaving school in 1964, he worked for his father as an apprentice carpenter in between drumming for different local bands. In 1964, Bonham joined his first semi-professional band, Terry Webb and the Spiders, and met his future wife Pat Phillips around the same time. He also played in other Birmingham bands such as The Nicky James Movement and The Senators, who released a moderately successful single "She's a Mod," in 1964. Bonham then took up drumming full-time. Two years later, he joined A Way of Life, but the band soon became inactive. Desperate for a regular income, he joined a blues group called Crawling King Snakes, whose lead singer was a young Robert Plant.

In 1967, A Way of Life asked Bonham to return to the group, and he agreed—though throughout this period, Plant kept in contact with Bonham. When Plant decided to form Band of Joy, Bonham was first choice as drummer. The band recorded a number of demos but no album. In 1968 American singer Tim Rose toured Britain and invited Band of Joy to open his concerts. When Rose returned for another tour months later, Bonham was formally invited by the singer to drum for his band, which gave him a regular income.
On 24 September 1980, Bonham was picked up by Led Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray Studios for an upcoming tour of the United States—the band's first since 1977. During the journey, Bonham asked to stop for breakfast, where he drank four quadruple vodkas (sixteen shots, between 400–560 ml). He then continued to drink heavily after arriving at the rehearsals. A halt was called to the rehearsals late in the evening and the band retired to Page's house, the Old Mill House in Clewer, Windsor. After midnight on the 25th, Bonham fell asleep and was taken to bed and placed on his side. Benji LeFevre (who had replaced Richard Cole as Led Zeppelin's tour manager) and John Paul Jones found him dead the next afternoon. Bonham was 32 years old.

Weeks later at the coroner's inquest, it emerged that in the twenty-four hours before he died, John Bonham had consumed forty shots of vodka which resulted in him vomiting and subsequently inhaling his vomit causing asphyxiation. A verdict of accidental death was returned at an inquest held on 27 October 1980. An autopsy found no other drugs in Bonham's body.[18] John Bonham's body was cremated and his ashes were interred on 12 October 1980, at Rushock Parish Church, Worcestershire.



Despite media rumours that drummers including Cozy Powell, Phil Collins, Carmine Appice, Barriemore Barlow, Roger Taylor, Simon Kirke or Bev Bevan, among others, would join the group as his replacement, the remaining members decided to disband Led Zeppelin after Bonham's death. They issued a press statement on 4 December 1980, confirming that the band would not continue without their drummer. "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were." It was simply signed "Led Zeppelin"
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