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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label John Bonham. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Bonham. Show all posts

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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Friday, December 23, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, Professor Longhair By Lee Pons - John Francis Kavanagh contributor

John Bonham of Led Zeppelin with Professor Longhair, Photo by Sidney Smith
Today is the birthday of the funky, enigmatic, and wildly talented Professor Longhair, who’s outstanding life and music have touched millions for generations.
Lovingly known far and wide as the “Fess”, the godfather of New Orleans piano, Professor Longhair was born Henry Byrd on Dec 19th, 1918 in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The family moved to New Orleans shorty after his birth and, though he did get music lessons from his mother, he would say that his first musical instruments where the bottoms of his feet! As a child, he used to tap dance on street corners of the French Quarter for spare change.
Byrd didn’t get any real serious interest in music until he was in his late teens. He was a member of a dance troupe when he had to fill in for the drummer one night (no one knew he could play the drums — not even him!). Tuts Washington, the piano player in that group, told Byrd he should continue with the drums, which he did. Pretty soon he got tried of having to lug a drum set around, and switched to the piano. Tuts acted as one of Byrd’s early mentors on the piano. Fess also got encouragement from Sullivan Rock who taught him how to play the standard “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie”.

The Birth of Fess

One of Byrd’s strongest influences came from working with a government road crew. The job’s tenure was for 6 months, and involved a good amount of traveling. During these travels, he was exposed to a variety of Latin and Caribbean band music. Drawn by the rhythmic interplay of the music, Fess soon incorporated the unique syncopations into his own playing style, by blending them with blues and barrellhouse piano. This “Rumba Boogie” as he would later call it, would turn out to have an immeasurable impact on New Orleans music, and in Piano Blues music as a whole.
In 1942, Byrd was inducted into the army, and left 2 years later on a medical discharge. Afterward, he spent spend the next few years working as a cook or as a professional card player. Gambling would always be his “second profession”, as he would say, and he became well known in New Orleans as an amazing card shark. In the mean time, he would play occasional gigs as a piano player, but he wasn’t noticed as a musician until 1948, when, during another band’s break, he played a few songs on the piano at a club. He caused such a hoopla with the patrons that the owner of the club fired the band and hired Byrd, right then and there! It was at this club that he would be given his nickname, Professor Longhair, because of the ponytail he sported at