Tales of Rock – John “Bonzo” Bonham

1. John Henry Bonham was born in Worcestershire, England on 31 May1948.

2. He began teaching himself drums at age 5, making a primitive drum kit out of empty coffee containers, pots and pans, and other assorted kitchenware. He got his first real snare drum at age 10, and his first full kit at 15.

3. His early influences included big band jazz drummers like Gene KrupaJoe Morello and Buddy Rich.

4. By 16 he was playing in his first semi-professional band. While they were recording a demo, the sound engineer told Bonham that he played too loud and was unrecordable. Bonham later sent him a gold record with a snarky note saying, “Thanks for your advice.”

5. A middle school principal once wrote on Bonham’s report card, “He’ll either be a dustman or a millionaire.”

6. At 17 Bonham married Pat Phillips. A year later in 1966, they had their first child, Jason Bonham.

7. Money for the young family was extremely tight and they lived in a small, government-subsidized apartment. Nonetheless, Bonham would often pretend to go work in a factory while instead heading to a music store, where he performed drum demonstrations for a nominal fee.

8. He first played with Robert Plant in a group called The Crawling King Snakes; the band took their name from a John Lee Hooker song.

9. Other bands he played in included the Blue Star Trio, Gerry Levene & the Avengers, Terry Webb and the Spiders, The Nicky James Movement, The Senators, and Band of Joy. Oh, and also Led Zeppelin.

10. When Page and Plant began to form Led Zeppelin after the demise of the Yardbirds, other drummers they considered included Ginger Baker, Clem Cattini, Aynsley Dunbar and B.J. Wilson.

11. Bonham was at the time also considering offers from Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe. Robert Plant and manager Peter Grant besieged the reluctant Bonham with dozens of telegrams sent to his favorite pub, until he finally agreed to join.

12. Led Zeppelin played their first live gig at the Mayfair Ballroom, in New Castle Upon Tyne, on 4 October 1968.

13. In November, they signed with Atlantic Records and scored an unprecedented $200,000 advance.

14. With his first check from Led Zeppelin, Bonham bought a Jaguar.

15. Led Zeppelin embarked on the first American tour only after the Jeff Beck Group cancelled theirs and Peter Grant convinced promoters to take Zeppelin instead.

16. The band made its American debut in Denver, Colorado, on 26 December 1968.

17. They opened for acts like Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, and Country Joe and the Fish.

18. Vanilla Fudge’s drummer, Carmine Appice, befriended Bonham and introduced him to double bass drum kits incorporating larger, 26-inch Ludwig bass drums (then only used in marching bands), which enabled Bonham to increase his volume onstage.

19. The band’s first album, Led Zeppelin, was recorded in only 36 hours. Released in early 1969 to generally poor reviews, it would nonetheless remain on the Billboard charts for 73 weeks and to date has reached sales in excess of 8 million in the United States alone.

20. Their second album, the imaginatively titled Led Zeppelin II, also released in 1969, has sold over 12 million copies and is widely considered as one of the most groundbreaking and influential albums of all time.

21. This album featured the instrumental track “Moby Dick.” When performing it live, Bonham would solo anywhere from 6 minutes to half an hour, sometimes tossing his sticks to the audience and beating on his drums with his hands.

22. Led Zeppelin IV, released in 1971, sold 37 million copies worldwide. It features a song you might have heard called “Stairway to Heaven.”

23. Led Zeppelin’s excesses on tour were legendary. Bonham once drove a motorcycle – a gift for his 25th birthday – through the halls of the Continental Hyatt House Hotel in Los Angeles, where the band had rented out multiple floors for their entourage (both Keith Moon and Keith Richards reportedly dropped TVs out the windows of the same hotel, which acquired the nickname “The Riot House”).

24. Bonham suffered from stage fright and would often have panic attacks before the band took the stage.

25. In 1972 Bonham bought a 100-acre farm in England’s Midlands called Old Hyde. His father and younger brother helped restore it to a working Hereford cattle ranch and he would enter his calves in livestock competitions. In a bid to keep his home and work life separate, he didn’t even keep a drum kit on the property.

26. Bonham’s second child, daughter Zoe, was born in July 1975.

27. In 1976 he appeared in the film Son of Dracula, along with Ringo Star, Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson. The rock ‘n’ roll vampire movie was poorly received and remains unavailable on either VHS or DVD.

28. Bonham died at the age of 32 after asphyxiating on his own vomit following a drinking binge on 25 September 1980. Rather than carry on with a new drummer, Led Zeppelin disbanded.

29. The band did play a one-off, 2007 reunion show, with Jason Bonham taking his father’s seat behind the drum kit. Reunion tour rumors have arisen every year since.

30. Some quotes about Bonham and his legacy:

“The greatest rock-and-roll drummer of all-time was John Bonham.” – Roger Taylor of Queen

“He was the best.” – Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones

“To me, hands down John Bonham was the best rock drummer ever.” – Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers

“I think he will forever be the greatest drummer of all-time.” – Dave Grohl, of Foo Fighters and Nirvana

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Why Ian Anderson Left a Club After One of the Rock GODS Went Onstage

Jethro Tull leader Ian Anderson recalled how he met future Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant – and how Anderson’s band “got out pretty quickly” after Plant took a guest turn onstage.

The incident took place sometime in the mid ‘60s in London, before either artist had reached the pinnacle of success. “I’ve never been a strong singer,” said Anderson, who was complimented for retaining the vocal abilities of “a man decades younger” during a recent interview with Prog magazine. “Comparing me to, say, Robert Plant is absurd – he has a God-given talent, which I recognized, fearfully, the first time I ever met him, when [British blues icon] Alexis Korner brought him into a club we were in.”

Robert Plant

Anderson said they were playing in a “dreary, shitty club in town and it was awful” when Korner “came in with this lean youth and said, ‘All right if my boy stands in and does a number? He sings and plays harmonica.’ And I was like, ‘Well, that’s what I do, but sure, I’ll just sit this one out and he can have a go.’”

Anderson recalled that his reaction was immediate. “You knew instantly that he had something special about him,” he said of Plant. “And he was a good harmonica player too. I sat there feeling this growing dread. … We got out of there pretty quickly, as I recall. Not too much looking back that night.”

Jethro Tull are marking their 50th anniversary with a tour that launches in the U.K. on Apr. 3 before reaching the U.S. on May 30. Anderson started work on a new album last year, although he remains unsure whether it will be released under his name or the band moniker. Plant recently said that Led Zeppelin were planning to discuss ways of celebrating their own 50th anniversary this year.

 

 

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Tales of Rock – The 10 Wildest Led Zeppelin Legends, Fact-Checked

The Old Hermit in the ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ Gatefold Is a Character From ‘The Lord of the Rings’

THE BACKSTORY: It’s no secret that Led Zeppelin loved The Lord of the Rings. They even sing about “Mordor” and “Gollum” in 1969’s “Ramble On.” So when a mysterious cloaked figure with a lantern who seemed to be straight out of Middle-Earth appeared on the inside cover of their fourth album, many fans assumed it was a figure from J.R.R. Tolkien’s books.

THE TRUTH: “The hermit” was merely inspired by a figure from a Tarot card. Page played the role of the Hermit during a fantasy sequence in Zeppelin’s 1976 movie, The Song Remains the Same.

Led Zeppelin

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

The Title of ‘D’yer Mak’er’ Is Based on an Old Cockney Joke About Jamaica

THE BACKSTORY: Many fans think the title of this Houses of the Holy tune is pronounced
“Dire Maker”; in fact, you’re supposed to say it more like the name of the Caribbean country.

THE TRUTH: Plant has confirmed that the title “D’yer Mak’er” does, in fact, come from a rusty bit of Cockney humor, which usually goes something like this:
Cockney Man 1: My wife is going on holiday.
Cockney Man 2: D’yer make ‘er? [“Jamaica,” but pronounced quickly so that it sounds just like “Did you make her?”]
Cockney Man 1: No, she’s going on her own accord. 
The sly allusion to Jamaica made sense for the song: “D’yer Mak’er” is Zeppelin’s reggae move.

Led Zeppelin

Atlantic Records

The Title of Zeppelin’s Fourth Album Is ‘Zoso’

THE BACKSTORY: Their first three albums had simple, sensible titles: Led ZeppelinIIIII.
When it came time for number four, in November 1971, they stripped things down even further, refusing to print a single word anywhere on the record sleeve, not even their own names, apparently in hopes of causing confusion among the hated rock press. “After all we had accomplished, the press was still calling us a hype,” Page said. “So that is why the fourth album was untitled.” Naturally, this created some confusion – and it infuriated Atlantic Records. The band did include four symbols on the cover, one that represented each group member. Page’s symbol seemed to spell out “Zoso.”

THE TRUTH: Page insists the symbols aren’t even letters, although that hasn’t stopped people from referring to the album as Zoso (or Zeppelin IV). Technically the album is untitled.

Randy Olson/National Geographic/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin Once Defiled a Groupie With a Mud Shark

THE BACKSTORY: The most notorious of all Zeppelin legends began when the band played the Seattle Pop Festival on July 27th, 1969, then retired to the Edgewater Inn. The building sits atop Seattle’s Puget Sound; guests can actually fish directly from their windows. The 1985 Led Zeppelin biography Hammer of the Gods – which got much of its information from Zep road manager Richard Cole – describes a graphic scene in one of the rooms. “A pretty young groupie with red hair was disrobed and tied to the bed,” wrote author Stephen Davis. “Led Zeppelin then proceeded to stuff pieces of shark into her vagina and rectum.”

THE TRUTH: This one’s fishy. A different version of the mud-shark incident has Cole as the fish-wielding culprit; the band Vanilla Fudge have also claimed responsibility for the incident. Their drummer, Carmine Appice, says the girl in question was a groupie who’d tagged along with him, and his keyboardist Mark Stein filmed the entire encounter. Zeppelin were supposedly in the hotel at the time, though only John Bonham was around for the incident. Somewhere out there is a sixtysomething woman who might be able to confirm the whole thing, but it’s hard to imagine her coming forward.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jimmy Page Dated a 14-year-old Girl While He Was in Led Zeppelin

THE BACKSTORY: Lori Maddox was a part of the Los Angeles groupie scene beginning in the early 1970s. According to Maddox, Page became infatuated with her and had a roadie bring Maddox up to his suite at the L.A. Hyatt House. “[He was] wearing this hat over his eyes and holding a cane,” she remembered. “He looked just like a gangster. It was magnificent.” The pair went on to have a torrid affair over the next few years. (Cutie!)

THE TRUTH: Maddox was, amazingly, just 14 when she met Page, though Page did what he could to keep the relationship hidden. Even in the swingin’ Seventies this kind of thing could put you in jail. But with no TMZ or Us Weekly, Page got away with it. He eventually dumped Maddox for the of-legal-age Bebe Buell.

 

jimmy page

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jimmy Page Worshipped the Devil

THE BACKSTORY: Page’s obsession with Aleister Crowley led to whispers that he and Satan were tight; yet another rumor claimed that the members of Led Zeppelin had made a Faustian bargain in exchange for stardom.

THE TRUTH: There’s no evidence Page was a Satanist, though he believed in Crowley’s philosophy of personal liberation. (He even had Crowley’s dictum “Do what thou wilt” inscribed in the run-off groove of the original vinyl releases of Led Zeppelin III.) Page did little to deflect the rumors throughout Zeppelin’s history, perhaps sensing they were good for business. “I don’t really want to go on about my personal beliefs or my involvement in magic,” he told Rolling Stone. “I’m not interested in turning
anybody on to anybody that I’m turned on to. If people want to find things, they find them themselves.”

 

John Bonham

Jorgen Angel/Redferns

John Bonham Drank 40 Shots of Vodka the Night He Died

THE BACKSTORY: Bonham was found dead on the morning of September 25th, 1980, at Page’s house in Windsor Berkshire, after a day of drinking and rehearsing.

THE TRUTH: According to the coroner’s report, the drummer had the equivalent of 40 vodka shots in his system. Bonham had been drinking quadruple vodkas earlier in the day and was so inebriated he failed to wake up when his body began ejecting the alcohol.

 

kieth moon

Chris Morphet/Redferns

Keith Moon of the Who Gave Led Zeppelin Their Name

THE BACKSTORY: In May 1966, Moon and Who bassist John Entwistle recorded the instrumental “Beck’s Bolero” with Page, John Paul Jones and Jeff Beck. The track came out well, and they tossed around the idea of forming a new band. Moon allegedly said the band would go over like a lead balloon. Page remembered the joke two years later when he created Zep.

THE TRUTH: Accounts differ; for decades Entwistle claimed it was he, not Moon, who made the “lead balloon” crack. But history seems to favor Moon’s version.

 

Jimmy Page

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jimmy Page Once Owned Aleister Crowley’s Former Home

THE BACKSTORY: Crowley was a British philosopher and occultist who dabbled in black magic in the early 20th century. Page was obsessed with him, amassing a huge collection of memorabilia.

THE TRUTH: Page did, in fact, purchase Crowley’s former home in Loch Ness, Scotland, in 1971 and later claimed it was haunted – but not necessarily because of Crowley. “There were two or three owners before Crowley moved into it,” Page told Rolling Stone in 1975. “It was also a church that was burned to the ground with the congregation in it. Strange things have happened in that house that had nothing to do with Crowley. The bad vibes were already there. A man was beheaded there, and sometimes you can hear his head rolling down.”

 

Led Zeppelin

Atlantic Records

If You Play ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in Reverse, You Hear Satanic Messages

THE BACKSTORY: Televangelist Paul Crouch brought this allegation into the mainstream in 1982, claiming that, when played backward, the “bustle in your hedgerow” segment of Zep’s signature tune says this: “Here’s to my sweet Satan/The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan/He will give those with him 666/There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.”

THE TRUTH: That part of “Stairway” does sound similar to Crouch’s interpretation when played backward, but it’s just a bizarre coincidence. “Who on Earth would have ever thought of doing that?” Robert Plant said of the backward-Satanism charges. “You’ve got to have a lot of time on your hands to even consider that people would do that.”

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Led Zeppelin are Thieving Bastards

Led Zeppelin are remembered for two things: banging a groupie with a mudshark and recording songs that rocked harder than any band had ever rocked before. Too bad a bunch of that shit was stolen.

Don’t believe us? Well, here’s a whole laundry list of songs they stole; but if the words of a dawn-of-the-Internet era website aren’t enough to convince you, consider their classic song “Dazed and Confused.”

A young Jake Holmes played a song of the same name (and chords, and lyrics kind of) at a show in 1967 where he was opening for The Yardbirds, who featured–say it with us!– Jimmy Page on guitar. “Dazed and Confused” became a mainstay of The Yardbirds live sets and eventually found its way onto Zep’s 1969 debut album, where it was credited to… nobody. Holmes never took legal action but he did eventually send Page a letter asking for acknowledgement and maybe a little gas money if he could spare it (he could). The letter went unanswered.

But who cares, right? We’re talking about Led Zeppelin here. The band who wrote “Stairway to Heaven” man! It’s the most popular song in the history of sound! It’s the song that was playing on the van stereo when your father shot the load that would become you into your mother’s moist and eager lady parts! That one song is enough to secure the legacy of 10 bands!

Too bad they jacked that shit too. The opening notes (and easily the most recognizable part) of “Stairway” were taken almost note-for-note from a song called “Taurus” by Spirit. Spirit was a band they opened for in the late sixties.

How did nobody notice that? Because nobody knows who the hell Spirit is. But for the record, Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit on their first U.S. tour, so it’s safe to assume they were familiar with the band. Repaying an opening spot on a tour of the States by stealing a guitar riff is sad, but what’s even sadder is that Spirit’s guitarist, the awesomely named Randy California, knew exactly where “Stairway to Heaven” came from but was too nice of a guy to say anything – he just wanted them to say “Thank you.”

They never did.

Check this out:

http://forums.ledzeppelin.com/index.php?/topic/12956-the-thieving-magpies/

 

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Tales of Rock – The Starship Flew Insane Rock Stars Around The World

“The interior was so relentlessly tacky that Mick Jagger literally gasped when he first saw it, and Mick Jagger generally gasps only when he sees himself in a mirror.”

When you’re one of the biggest, wildest bands in music, you need transport to match. It doesn’t matter how many meat catapults or flaming codpieces you own; your fans will turn against you if they see you roll up to a gig driving a bombed-out Astro van. Or at least that’s the thought process that led to the birth of the Starship: a drug-fueled flying sex den that flew the biggest names in rock music around the world. Among the clients who paid a ball-smashing figure of $2,500 per hour for the plane were Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, The Rolling Stones, and, um, The Bee Gees.

Having lived a previous (and tasteful) life as a commercial passenger plane, the Starship was outfitted like Ron Burgundy’s treehouse. In among the shag pile carpeting and acres of leopard print, its precious cargo could enjoy a drink at the 30-foot-long bar, discuss matters of the day in the drawing room (complete with fake fireplace), watch movies using the built-in cinema system, and play the massive organ. The interior was so relentlessly tacky that Mick Jagger literally gasped when he first saw it, and Mick Jagger generally gasps only when he sees himself in a mirror.

And, just in case you were wondering whether the infamously debauched guests of the Starship felt the need to rein in their behavior while soaring through the lawless sky, the answer is no, of course they didn’t. Only a few details have emerged regarding the depravity that went on aboard, presumably because history isn’t yet prepared to hear the full details. For starters, the Allman Brothers climbed aboard to find “Welcome Allman Brothers” written on Starship’s bar in cocaine. One unnamed record executive wandered around the plane, waving a handgun for no apparent reason. There was a system in place to smuggle drugs aboard the plane wrapped in dirty clothes, in order to fool police sniffer dogs. And Robert Plant considers getting a blowjob during a powerful bout of turbulence as one of his favorite Starship memories. Without question, that airplane is haunted by the ghosts of thousands of unborn children.

 

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Tales of Rock – Edgewater Hotel Incidents

The Edgewater is a hotel in Seattle, Washington that is located on a pier over Elliott Bay. It is currently the only hotel in Seattle that sits over-water. In the 1960s the Edgewater became a popular destination for famous rock stars. Some of the bands to visit the hotel include the Beatles in 1964, the Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, and Led Zeppelin. The Edgewater is unique because in the past it allowed customers to fish from their rooms on the north elevation.

On July 27, 1969, Led Zeppelin performed at the Seattle Pop Festival and stayed at the Edgewater. The band was known to have wild parties and was often joined by groupies. According to Zeppelin’s road manager Richard Cole, during one incident, things between a fish and a sexy red head got a bit intimate. On the day in question, Cole was in his room fishing with drummer John Bonham when they were joined by some women. Cole and Bonham had caught a large collection of sharks, at least two dozen, stuck coat hangers through the gills and then left them in the closet. The hotel room was also scattered with various types of smaller fish.

As parties go, one thing led to another and people began to lose their clothing. One particular woman in the crowd with red hair found herself with Cole. She made a unique request, so he decided to reach for a fish and the shark episode was born. Cole was later quoted: “Let’s see how your red snapper likes this red snapper.” It was the nose of the fish and the girl liked it. There was nothing malicious or harmful and Mark Stein of Vanilla Fudge filmed the whole thing. After the story was published by the media a large collection of rumors began to circulate, but many were exaggerated. The band received bad press so they stopped talking about the event.

In 1973, Led Zeppelin returned to the Edgewater and the band was officially banned from the hotel after it was discovered that they had caught some 30 mudsharks and left them under beds, in closets, elevators, hallways, bathtubs, and all over their rooms. They threw stuff out the windows into Elliott Bay, including beds, TVs, mattresses, lamps, drapes, and glassware. Since that time Robert Plant has been welcomed back to the Edgewater. The mudshark incident remains one of the most popular rock stories from the 1960s.

Here’s a version of this song I’ve never heard before. It’s a rough mix. Interesting imagery by Brandy and Coke.

 

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