JOHN HENRY BONHAM
31 May 1948 – 25 September 1980
“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 United States—the band’s first since 1977. During the journey, Bonham asked to stop for breakfast, where he drank four quadruple vodkas (sixteen shots, between 400–560 ml). He then continued to drink heavily after arriving 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 fell 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 twenty-four hours before he died, John Bonham had consumed forty shots of vodka which resulted in him vomiting and subsequently inhaling his vomit causing asphyxiation. A verdict of accidental death was returned at an inquest held on 27 October 1980. An autopsy found no other drugs in Bonham’s body. John Bonham’s body was cremated and his ashes were interred on 12 October 1980, at Rushock Parish Church, Worcestershire. His headstone reads:
CHERISHED MEMORIES OF A LOVING HUSBAND AND FATHER JOHN HENRY BONHAM WHO DIED SEPT. 25th 1980 AGED 32 YEARS He will always be Remembered in our hearts. Goodnight my Love, God Bless.
On this the 32nd anniversary of the day John Henry Bonham almost put the Vodka companies out of business, we here at the Bizarrojerri Corporation choose to remember the Led Zeppelin drummer for what he did best. Giving the world’s greatest rock band ever a solid steel spine of rhythm and awe. Undoubtedly, any argument about who is the best drummer ever begins and ends with John Bonham. Even Dave Grohl says so:
“John Bonham played the drums like someone who didn’t know what was going to happen next—like he was teetering on the edge of a cliff. No one has come close to that since, and I don’t think anybody ever will. I think he will forever be the greatest drummer of all time”
Here are five moments of raw Bonzo power that defined rock music forever.