How was Led Zeppelin discovered

With the first song on Led Zeppelin's very first LP, John Bonham changed classic rock drums forever. Years later, Jimmy Page was still amused by how the song "Good Times Bad Times" and its breathtaking bass drum use caused confusion among the audience: "Everyone was sure that Bonzo was using two bass drums when in reality he only had one." This performance, so weighty, so lively, so virtuoso and thoughtful, laid the foundation for Bonham's finesse career up to his far too early death in 1980.

"I've spent years, years really, in my nursery listening to Bonham's drumming and trying to match his swing, behind-the-beat swagger, speed, or power.", said Dave Grohl in an interview with the US edition of ROLLING STONE. “I didn't just memorize what he did on each album. My main concern was to put myself in the same position and to follow the same instinctive, rhythmic compass as him. "

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The first Led Zeppelin rehearsal

Bonham's style was undeniable, and he was best known for playing triplets rather than clean single beats. A style he had learned from his favorite jazz musicians, which gave the band's songs extra flair. Though each member brought their own specific talent, Bonzo was considered the heartbeat of the group as his style of drumming added power, emotion and originality to the music.

That these attributes were omnipresent in Led Zeppelin's music became apparent from the first rehearsal together, because on August 12, 1968, music history was written in a small rehearsal room in the English capital, London. Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Robert Plant met for the first time on their instruments, which showed those present that something very special was being created there. It shouldn't be long before this band played their first gig. The four musicians were already on stage together on September 7th of the same year. What later turned the rock world upside down under the name Led Zeppelin was initially still called The New Yardbirds for contractual reasons. In an interview with the "Ultimate Classic Rock Nights Radio Show", guitarist and songwriter Jimmy Page told how the rehearsal went - and how the historic first meeting felt for the members

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Connected musically

According to Jimmy Page, the musicians knew immediately that they were made for each other: "I knew it felt like nothing before, and I also knew that we were all in the same boat", the 76-year-old recalls. Page is sure that the other band members felt the same way: "Whatever they did before, they were never in such an intense situation with such a serious connection - musically connected in a profound way - and that at our first meeting, when we first got ready to play".

Page next: “I worked with Robert in my house, went through various things with him that I wanted to do, like 'Dazed And Cofused', 'Babe I'm Gonna Leave You'… but that first rehearsal was enough for all of us were thrilled. [...] We recorded in October 1968, the Yardbirds still existed in July 1968. You can imagine how quickly this whole thing came about ".

John Bonham is growing up

In this dynamic, John Bonham found an environment in which he could develop freely and naturally. It was the long-cherished wish of a young man who was born twenty years earlier, on May 31, 1948, in Redditch, England. As a child he drummed on tin cans, saucepans and anything that could be converted into a drum set. When he was ten, his mother bought him his first snare drum, followed by an old, rusty Premier brand drum kit. He was fifteen then.

He never took lessons, he copied everything from his great role models Ginger Baker and Gene Krupa. For the jazz drummer Krupa, Bonham shared the same passion as Keith Moon. Both admired him because he interpreted the role of the drummer in a band at that time completely differently than his colleagues. He didn't just sit in the back of the stage and stubbornly keep the beat. Krupa became a front man himself, through his movements and his expansive game. John Bonham and Keith Moon translated this style into rock music.

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Bonham also distinguished something else. It was loud. Very loud. In some clubs in the area he was a disliked guest because he always drowned out all other musicians. Taking him in seemed like an impossible task anyway. Terry Webb & The Spiders were Bonham's first professional band, followed by A Way of Life and The Crawling King Snakes (together with Robert Plant). None of these bands was successful. He somehow kept himself afloat with odd jobs at his father's construction company and married early.

The ascent with Led Zeppelin

The experiences and acquaintances that John Bonham gained in the bands of his youth would later prove to be trend-setting despite the lack of success. In 1967 he joined Robert Plant's Band of Joy, with whom he went on tour in early 1968 as support for the American Tim Rose. Rose was so excited about Bonham's playing that he wanted to recruit him into his own band. The courted agreed because it enabled him to earn a steady income in unsteady times. For the Band of Joy, however, it was the end. But Bonham didn't spend much time with Tim Rose either.

In the summer of 1968 Robert Plant recommended his former (and future) bandmate to a certain Jimmy Page. The Yardbirds had broken up and Page was looking for musicians for a new band. Although Bonham received well-paid offers from Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe, he accepted Page's offer (after additional attempts to persuade manager Peter Grant). The reason he gave was that he liked the music of the Yardbirds more than that of Cocker and Farlowe. It was the right decision, as the first rehearsal with Page, Plant and Jones showed.

September 24, 1980

In September 1980 - twelve years after the crucial day in the London rehearsal room and after an unparalleled career - all four members of Led Zeppelin had started rehearsing in preparation for their first North American tour since 1977, which will be held in Montreal on October 17 , Canada should begin. The rehearsals took place near Jimmy Page's house in Windsor, where the band was staying.

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Robert Plant later described Bonham's state of mind when they drove to their last rehearsal together: “On the very last day of his life when we went to the rehearsal, he wasn't quite as happy as he could be. He said, 'I'm fed up with playing the drums. Everyone plays better than I. ‘When we drove in the car, he pulled off the sun visor and threw it out the window while he was talking. He said, 'I'll tell you what, when we come to the rehearsal, you play the drums and I sing.' And that was our last rehearsal. "

When they got to the rehearsal room, Bonham began a drinking bout that would drag on for twelve hours. He had drunk an alarming 40 shots of vodka, as it turned out later. Late in the evening he passed out on a sofa in Jimmy Page's nearby house, so a member of the band put him to bed. The roadie Bonham put a pillow on his side to make it safer.

It was terrible"

What happened the next day, bassist John Paul Jones described in his own words: “Benje [the tour manager of Led Zeppelin. Note d. Red.] And I have found him. It was like, 'Let's go up and see Bonzo'. We tried to wake him up ... It was terrible. Then I had to tell the other two ... I had to get the news to Jimmy and Robert. That made me very angry - at his waste ... I can't say he was in good shape because he wasn't. There were some good moments during the last few rehearsals ... but then he started with the vodka. I think he drank because there were some problems in his personal life. But he died in an accident. He got it wrong, which could have happened to anyone who drank a lot. "

An ambulance was called in the morning immediately after Bonham was discovered, but it was too late. He was only 32 years old. The police also arrived at Jimmy Page's house, where no suspicious circumstances were found. An investigation into John Bonham's death was held in the East Berkshire Court on October 18, which revealed that he had died in his sleep from inhaling his own vomit, causing pulmonary edema. Pulmonary edema describes a build-up of fluid in the lungs that can lead to respiratory failure. The official cause of death was Alcohol Consumption "indicated.

John Bonham's funeral

John Bonham's memorial service was held on October 10, 1980 at Rushock Parish Church in Worcestershire. About two hundred and fifty mourners attended, including family, friends, bandmates and other musicians: Roy Wood, Denny Laine, Bev Bevan and Jeff Lynne. Paul McCartney left a wreath and tribute recordings made by fellow drummers such as Carmine Appice, Phil Collins, Cozy Powell and Carl Palmer. After the family service, the funeral procession made its way to the Worcester Crematorium for the closing service.

Given the unique bond between the four members of Led Zeppelin, it came as no surprise when, a few weeks after Bonham's death, Page, Plant and Jones met their manager Peter Grant at the Savoy Hotel in London to decide unanimously that the band would move into a world after Bonham could no longer exist. A statement by the band read as follows:

“We want it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, along with the deep sense of undivided harmony that we and our manager feel, have led us to decide that we are cannot continue as we were. "

"A massive loss for everyone"

Years later, Jimmy Page was not bothered with small words when it came to the memory of his friend and bandmate: "The passing of John Bonham ... let's talk about the introduction of John Bonham on the first album and 'Good Times Bad Times'. Drumming changes overnight "said Page in 2015. So that was 1968. And we're talking about 1980. It's twelve years that John Bonham's musical contribution has been appreciated in every way by the music world - the fact that it changed drumming, the fact that it changed people's appreciation for the drums and the music. " Page also emphasized several times that Bonham's death was a massive loss for everyone " be. "Everyone was touched by the music of John Bonham".

"He was the groove master"said Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward. “He wrote the Bible about rock drumming. To learn the original foundation that brings a drummer into today's era of rock or metal drumming, one has to listen to John Bonham. He was an institution in itself. "

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Never the same again

"It could never be the same again"said Peter Grant in 1990. “It was these four people - they were Led Zeppelin. The music and the mind - unique. When these four guys were on stage ... total magic. It's been proven that it can never be the same again - that damn Live Aid thing. "

He was referring to the disaster that marked the band's first reunion at the 1985 charity event. In Philadelphia, Page, Plant and Jones were joined by two drummers to make up for Bonham's absence: Phil Collins and Tony Thompson. In the following isolated appearances, Bonham's son Jason appeared, who, although he has an encyclopedic knowledge of his father's game, could not fill the gap. The last time the band shared the stage was in December 2007 at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert.

Documentary about Led Zeppelin

In order to record the history of the band for posterity, the first official documentation of the band will be published on the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin - retold by the band members "In their own words".

The director of the still untitled film is Bernard MacMahon, who has already been nominated for the music documentary series "American Epic". The documentary will include new interviews with singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones, as well as archive interview recordings by John Bonham.

“Definitive narrative” of Led Zeppelin's birth

The documentary, which is currently in post-production, will be sold as a "Definitive story of the birth of the most successful rock band in the world" and told exclusively from the perspective of the band - with previously unpublished archive footage and photos as well as state-of-the-art audio restoration of the Led Zeppelin songs. Both Page and Plant said they convinced American Epic, which emulates the roots of American music from the Roaring Twenties, to get involved in MacMahon's film.

"When I saw what Bernard had done, both visually and aurally, for the remarkable achievement of 'American Epic', I knew he would be qualified to tell our story"Jimmy Page said in a statement. "The time was ripe for us to tell our own story for the first time in our own words"added John Paul Jones. "I think this film will really bring this story to life."

ROLLING STONE author Jörg Gülden reviewed the power Led Zeppelin sparked back in 1998. His contribution about the BBC Sessions "from the archive can be read here again:

From DAS ARCHIV-Rewind, issue 2/1998:

Led Zeppelin - BBC Sessions ****

by Jörg Gülden

Apart from the inexcusable fact that this double album was almost missed, it is now time for the Stones faction to take up the chewing stick. Let's put it this way: What the Rolling Stones created musically at the beginning of their career was seen in the right light - nothing more than a remake of American blues and R&B classics, wrapped in a contemporary beat camouflage and for unsuspecting American kids even a re-import of your own roots sounds.

OK, although Led Zep entered the stage a few years later, they also used the treasure chest that Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters & Co. had left to the brim, but turned it into such a unique, elemental thing that the title of Led Zep -Biography "Hammer Of The Gods" hits the nail on the head - it hardly gets fuller. Would you like a few more comparisons? Here you go: When Keith Richards was still trying to discover the magic of the C, F, G chords on the wandering guitar, Jimmy Page (after “Big” Jim Sullivan) was already number 2 among England's session guitarists.

The discussion about whose voice (Jaggers or Plants) is out of this world has probably been superfluous since the vocal big bang on "Whole Lotta Love", and why even drum wisp Keith Moon (by the way, he had the idea for the airship name) Looking up at John "Bonzo" Bonham in awe, there is no longer any question about "Moby Dick". And the contribution made by the enigmatic but ingenious John Paul Jones (for the ignorant only the dumb bassist) as arranger for Led Zep's sound apocalypse is worth a story in itself.

The walls are shaking

Led Zep studio albums - the confused slip caused by the extreme polarization of the two main actors (Plant in search of the "Lord of the Rings", Page under the spell of Black Magic guru Aleister Crowley) left other songs in went to the limit in every respect, monumental statements in Cinerama sound always forgive, so the band played live in a league of its own. Every appearance - the embarrassments caused by drugs or alcohol do not count - left the impression that four musicians would definitely do their last concert here and get everything out of themselves again, due to its ultimate intensity.

What Led Zep did in March and June '69 (in mono and on CD 1) and in April '71 (stereo and on CD 2) in front of a handpicked audience for various BBC shows (includingJohn Peel's "Top Gear") recorded live, is said to have almost brought down the walls of the old broadcasting corporation, if sound technicians had not panicked and turned all potentiometers to 0.5. Led Zep brought out all their heavy artillery, the thunder of which will echo forever - from “You Shook Me” to “Communication Breakdown” to the obligatory “Whole Lotta Love”. And if the earthquake on CD 1 on the seismometer makes the Richter scale much more open, then CD 2 is the aftershock with a magnitude of 7.

The benchmark

The final word is due to our English colleague Mat Snow, because it couldn't be more aptly to the point: “A pointer that comes at the right time. Because if you are planning to crown yourself to the Kings Of Rock’n’Roll, then you’ve got the bar that’s to be overcome beforehand! "

“THE ARCHIVE - Rewind” spans over 40 years of music history - because it contains the archives of Musikexpress, Rolling Stone and Metal Hammer. This covers almost every genre of music, from pop music to indie rock to heavy metal - enriched with interviews, reviews and reports on films, books and pop cultural phenomena.

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