John Bonham was an English musician known as the Led Zeppelin drummer. He is regarded as one of music’s best and greatest rock and roll drummers. For those of you who don’t know, Led Zeppelin was an extremely popular British rock band in the 1970s, cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal and hard rock music.
However, unfortunately, the band had to split up after the tragic demise of their star drummer, John Bonham. But who is Bonham, and how did he die? Born in 1948 in Redditch, Worcestershire, John took up drums at five, starting by imitating his idols Max Roach, Gene Krupa, and Buddy Rich.
Since then, he has never looked back, and it is interesting to note that John was a self-taught drummer. In 1964, Bo ham joined Terry Webb and the Spiders, his first semi-pro band, and it was at this time he first met Pat Phillips, who would become his wife. The couple then had two children, Jason and Zoë Bonham. Both the children are still associated with John’s band, Led Zeppelin.
John participated in several bands from Birmingham, including The Nicky James Movement and The Senators, with whom he recorded the single “She’s a Mod” in 1964 at Hollick and Taylor Studios. In 1968, after the breakup of Yardbirds, John Bonham joined guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and vocalist Robert Plant, thus forming the band New Yardbirds, then renamed Led Zeppelin.
John became unstoppable after joining the band, and some of his popular hard-hitting with the band include “Moby Dick,” “Immigrant Song,” “When the Levee Breaks,” “Kashmir,” “The Ocean,” and “Achilles’ Last Stand.” Bonham plays d exclusively on Ludwig drums during his career with Led Zeppelin.
Nicknamed “Bonzo,” John was also associated with several other projects like “Everybody Clap,” “Don’t Freak Me Out,” “Keep Your Hands on the Wheel,” and “So Glad to See You Here.” While playing drums in Count Downe’s (Harry Nilsson) band, Bonham appeared in the 1974 movie Son of Dracula.
Bonham was also ranked No. 1 on Classic Rock’s 2005 list of the 50 Greatest Drummers in Rock. But, despite all this, John’s success was short-lived, as he tragically left this world, leaving his fans in grief and disbelief. Let’s understand the cause of his death.
What caused the death of John Bonham?
On September 24, 1980, Rex King, a Led Zeppelin aide, brought up John so he could attend practice at Bray Studios for a tour of North America that would start on October 17 in Montreal, Canada. It was the band’s first tour since 1977.
During the journey, Bonham wanted to stop for breakfast and drank four quadruple vodka screwdrivers (16 shots between 400 and 560 ml). He then went to rehearsals and drank heavily. According to t reports, John started drinking early in the day and drank heavily well into the evening. The drummer was a heavy drinker, and alcoholism plagued him for much of his adult life.
Soon after the group’s nighttime rehearsals ended, John passed out intoxicated on the bed. The following afternoon, Led Zeppelin tour managers Benji LeFevre and Jones found him unresponsive. John, age 3, was later declared dead.
Approximately 40 shots of vodka with a 40% alcohol content were drunk by John in 24 hours, according to the inquest on October 27, 1980, following which he vomited and choked on a condition known as pulmonary aspiration.
Per the postmortem report, no recreational drugs were found in John’s body. At his death, John had recently overcome his heroin addiction and was on an unidentified anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drug.
On October 12, 1980, in Rushock Parish Church in Worcestershire, John’s remains were cremated, and his ashes were interred. Led Zeppelin decided to split up rather than find a replacement for John out of respect for their late bandmate.
Except for a few charity concerts, Led Zeppelin has been true to their promise after making a brief statement stating that it would not perform as a band without its late drummer. Celebration Day, a live CD from 2012, was produced from the most recent of these occasions: a concert at London’s O2 stadium in 2007. Even though John has left this world, his legacy remains to inspire thousands of people.