John Bonham was an English musician who was known for being the drummer for Led Zeppelin. He is thought to be one of the best and most famous rock and roll drummers ever. F
or those who don’t know, Led Zeppelin was a very popular British rock band in the 1970s. They are often credited with being one of the first bands to play heavy metal and hard rock.
But, sadly, the band had to break up after their star drummer, John Bonham, died in a tragic accident. But who is Bonham? How did he pass away? John was born in 1948 in Redditch, Worcestershire. When he was five, he started playing the drums by copying Max Roach, Gene Krupa, and Buddy Rich, who were his idols.
He hasn’t looked back since, and it’s interesting to note that John taught himself how to play the drums. In 1964, Bo Diddley joined his first semi-professional band, Terry Webb and the Spiders. It was there that he met Pat Phillips, who would later become his wife. Then Jason and Zo Bonham came into the world. Both kids are still involved with Led Zeppelin, John’s band.
John was in a few Birmingham bands, like The Nicky James Movement and The Senators. In 1964, he recorded the single “She’s a Mod” with The Senators at Hollick and Taylor Studios. After Yardbirds broke up in 1968, John Bonham joined guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and singer Robert Plant to form the band New Yardbirds, which was later changed to Led Zeppelin.
After John joined the band, he couldn’t be stopped. “Moby Dick,” “Immigrant Song,” “When the Levee Breaks,” “Kashmir,” “The Ocean,” and “Achilles’ Last Stand” are some of the hard-hitting songs he wrote with the band. During his time with Led Zeppelin, Bonham only played on Ludwig’s drums.
John, who was known as “Bonzo,” was also involved in “Everybody Clap,” “Don’t Freak Me Out,” “Keep Your Hands on the Wheel,” and “So Glad to See You Here.” Bonham played drums in Harry Nilsson’s (Count Downe) band and was in the 1974 movie Son of Dracula.
Classic Rock’s list of the 50 Greatest Drummers in Rock from 2005 also put Bonham at the top. But despite all of this, John’s success didn’t last long. He died tragically, leaving his fans sad and shocked. Let’s figure out what killed him.
How Did John Bonham Die?
On September 24, 1980, Rex King, who worked with Led Zeppelin, brought John up so he could practice at Bray Studios for a tour of North America that would start on October 17 in Montreal, Canada. The band hadn’t been on tour since 1977.
Bonham wanted to stop for breakfast on the way there, so he drank four quadruple vodka screwdrivers (16 shots between 400 and 560 ml). Then he went to practice and drank a lot. Reports say that John began drinking early in the day and kept drinking heavily until late in the evening. The drummer drank a lot, and he was an alcoholic for most of his adult life.
Soon after the group’s late-night practice was over, John fell asleep on the bed. The next afternoon, Benji LeFevre and Jones, who were in charge of Led Zeppelin’s tours, found him not moving. John, who was only 3, was later said to be dead.
John drank about 40 shots of 40%-alcohol vodka in 24 hours, according to the inquest on October 27, 1980. After that, he threw up and choked because he had pulmonary aspiration, which is when the lungs fill with air.
According to the report on John’s death, there were no drugs of any kind on his body. At the time of his death, John had just stopped using heroin and was taking an unnamed drug for anxiety and depression.
On October 12, 1980, John’s body was cremated and his ashes were buried at Rushock Parish Church in Worcestershire. Led Zeppelin decided not to find a replacement for John because they wanted to show respect for him.
Led Zeppelin has kept their word, with the exception of a few charity shows. They said in a short statement that they would not play as a band without their late drummer. Celebration Day, a live CD released in 2012, was made from a concert at London’s O2 stadium in 2007. Even though John has left this world, he has left behind a legacy that continues to inspire many people.