Remembering The Legendary Led Zeppelin Drummer John Bonham

Bonham passed away on this day in 1980 at age 32

Remembering The Legendary Led Zeppelin Drummer John Bonham

John Bonham was born John Henry Bonham on May 31st, 1948, in Redditch, Worcestershire, England. His love for drumming came at a young age, when at 5 he began to play a kit made of containers and coffee tins. Bonham received his first drum kit from his father at age 15, a Premier Percussion set however he never took formal drum lessons. During the mid 60’s, needing an income, he began working for his father as an apprentice carpenter while at the same time he was joining several Birmingham bands such as Terry Webb and the Spiders. Needing a regular income, he started playing music full time when he joined a blues group called Crawling King Snakes, whose lead singer was Robert Plant. Some time later Plant formed Band Of Joy with Bonham on drums. In 1968, American singer Tim Rose toured Britain and asked Band of Joy to open his concerts. When Rose returned months later, Bonham was invited by the singer to drum for his band, that allowed him to live from music. At the same time, The former Yardbirds Jimmy Page was forming a band and recruited Plant as the singer who in turn suggested Bonham as the drummer. At first not entirely convinced about Bonham, Page had other drummers in mind for his new band, including Cream’s Ginger Baker, but after seeing Bonham drum for Tim Rose at a club in Hampstead, north London, in July 1968, Page and manager Peter Grant were convinced he was perfect for the project, first known as the New Yardbirds and later as Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin went on to become one of the biggest bands in the world and absolutely ruled Rock music during the 1970’s. John Bonham’s talent and creativity helped the songs developing a higher energy form, he used the longest and heaviest sticks, which he called “trees.” and his hard hitting was evident on many Led Zeppelin songs, including “Immigrant Song” , “When the Levee Breaks”, “Kashmir”, “The Ocean” and “Achilles Last Stand” among many others. His speed, power, fast bass-drumming, distinctive sound, and “feel” for the groove built a name for him as one of the best Rock drummers who ever lived. His epic drum solo on “Moby Dick”, often lasted 30 minutes, sometimes using his bare hands for different sounds. Bonham’s sequence for the Led Zeppelin film “The Song Remains the Same” featured him in a drag race at Santa Pod Raceway to the sound of his solo, “Moby Dick”. In Led Zeppelin tours after 1969, Bonham included congas, orchestral timpani and a symphonic gong. He is credited by the Dallas Times Herald with the first concert use of electronic timpani drum synthesizers during “Kashmir” in Dallas, Texas, in 1977. John Bonham passed away at age 32 on September 25th, 1980 in Clewer, Berkshire, England after drinking four quadruple vodka Screwdrivers (16 shots between 400–560 ml, also equivalent to 9-13 American standard drinks) and taking pills for depression and anxiety.


Bonham was married to Pat Phillips with whom he had two children, Zoë Bonham and Jason Bonham that like his father became a professional drummer, among many of the acts and artists he has played with are UFO, Foreigner, and his own band Bonham. In 2007 Jason took his father’s place on the drums during the Led Zeppelin Reunion Tour in London. John Bonham often ranks among the best drummers, his creativity and talent has influenced drummers such as Dave Grohl, Tommy Lee, Peter Criss, Chad Smith and Dave Lombardo among many others. An essential piece to Led Zeppelin’s sound, Bonham’s music lives on and continues to reach and influence new generations of fans and musicians. John Bonham was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 with the surviving members of Led Zeppelin.

Watch Led Zeppelin performing “Moby Dick” with the famous John Bonham drum solo from the 1976 film “The Song Remains The Same”

Listen to Led Zeppelin’s live album “The Song Remains The Same” that includes John Bonham’s drum solo of  “Moby Dick” on Spotify

Watch more Led Zeppelin related videos


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