John Bonham – 30 years today since his death at 32

John Henry Bonham (31 May 1948 – 25 September 1980) was an English drummer 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 considered to be the greatest drummer in the history of rock music by other musicians and commentators in the industry

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 U.S.; the band’s first since 1977. During the journey, Bonham had asked to stop for breakfast, where he drank four quadruple vodkas (sixteen shots, amounting to about 480 ml). He then continued to drink heavily when he arrived 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 had fallen 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 24 hours before he died, John Bonham had consumed forty shots of vodka which resulted in him vomiting and subsequent aspiration (inhaling) of his vomit, causing asphyxiation. A verdict of accidental death was returned at an inquest held on 27 October. An autopsy had found no other drugs in Bonham’s body. John Bonham was cremated and, on 12 October 1980, interred at Rushock Parish Church, Worcestershire.

Led Zeppelin never toured again after Bonham’s death, although they did play a benefit at the O2 Arena in London 2 years ago, with Bonham’s son Jason playing drums.

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Posted by on September 25, 2010. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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4 Responses to John Bonham – 30 years today since his death at 32

  1. oso

    September 25, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Thirty years! Time just slips away man doesn’t it? I hadn’t realized they’d stopped touring afterwards.Still the greatest rock band ever IMO.

  2. thejeanmachine

    September 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    That brought back a flood of memories. What a waste of a future and loss of a great talent.

  3. fourdinners

    September 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Great drummer and good friend of another great drummer Cozy Powell who I saw live with Jeff Beck in ’71 or ’72 when a mates older brother took me to a gig.

    I reckon the current best rock drummer around is Tres Cool of Green Day. At Milton Keynes in 2005 he was THE BUSINESS.

    Mind you…after 40 shots of vodka I bet it took a while to put him out!…;-)

  4. Krell

    September 25, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I was fortunate to see them in concert in 1977 in Oklahoma City. At the time they were my favorite and they put on one hell of a show. I always thought the Jimmy Page was a smoking hot guitar player and Robert Plant could belt out the notes, but the soul of Led Zep was John Bonham. It was said that he played the drums with 2×4 boards and after hearing him live on his solo on Moby Dick I could believe it.

    God, it just seems like yesterday. Cruising around, listening to Led Zep on cassette player, trying to get laid. Sure was simple back then.