John Bonham was born May 31, 1948. At the age of five John started his musical career by drumming on a salt container fitted with strands of wire on the bottom to make a crude snare drum. After adding pots and pans to his arsenal, when he was 10 his mother got him a real snare drum. Then his dad bought him the complete kit, by the age of 16 he’d left school and started playing for money.
In 1965, at the age of 17, he married his girlfriend Pat Phillips. As money was tight they lived in a caravan that was owned by John’s father.
It was this same year when Bonham met Robert Plant the two formed Band of Joy
Until one gig that John’s mother attended and she witnessed Robert Plant wrapping his leg around the mic stand and simulating a sexual act she then stormed the stage screaming “John, you get off those drums now! You’re not playing with that boy, he’s a pervert!”
So in May of 1968 John quit Band of Joy and started a band with American singer Tim Rose they never recorded anything but a young Phil Collins caught them at a gig one night and said they were amazing.
Meanwhile Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Peter Grant were putting a band together from the ashes of The Yardbirds. They went after Robert Plant for the singer and it was Robert Plant recommended Bonham to sit behind the kit
That’s where the legend begins.
Ten years after the band began all John Bonham wanted was home. He hated flying, waiting around all day for the gig there was nothing to do but drink. The endless tours became a drain on his stamina and his playing, John notoriously had no confidence in himself. There was an adrenaline rush of playing the music every night to thousands of screaming fans, but after the show, just simply going to sleep sober in a strange hotel room was impossible for John. Every morning he was waking up in a faceless hotel with no memory of the night before. His life became a blur of rioting fans, speeding limos, blacked out plane rides, nameless groupies everywhere with no idea of what city or even country he was in. It was fun at first, but after 10 years. He was now 32 and the life and booze was now catching up with him.
In September 1980, rehearsals for the scheduled before the North American tour were to take place at Jimmy Page’s house in Windsor. On the way there in a car with Robert Plant on the morning of the 24th, John suddenly said to his old friend “I’ve had it with playing drums. Everybody plays better than me. I’ll tell you what, when we get to the rehearsal, you play the drums and I’ll sing.”
That day at Jimmy pages house Page’s house John started drinking at lunchtime and carried on until midnight. The story is that he polished off 40 Oz. of vodka while playing a marathon 12-hour session. John finally passed out on the floor and then the couch, his assistant eventually woke him up and took him to bed.
The following morning there was no sign of him. John Paul Jones and their road manager Benje LeFevre found him, he looked like he was still sleeping, they tried to wake him, then realized he was dead.
Two months later Dec 4th 1980: Led Zeppelin publicly announced that they would be disbanding and that was the end of the legend of the hammer of the gods.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.