September 25, 1980 – John Henry “Bonzo, The Beast” Bonham was a natural phenomenon on the drums. All the accolades surrounding this man’s drumming point at one thing: He was and probably forever will be the best rock drummer of all time. Hard to accept that Vodka killed him; well 40 shots of the stuff made him vomit and then choke and did not only end his life, but also the best Rock Band that ever existed: Led Zeppelin.
Born in Redditch, UK on May 31, 1948, he started to learn drumming at the age of 5 and in 1964, he joined his first semi-professional band, Terry Webb and the Spiders. He also played in other Birmingham bands, The Nicky James Movement and The Senators, who released a fairly successful single “She’s a Mod,” in 1964. John then took up drumming full-time. Two years later, he joined A Way of Life, before he joined a blues group called Crawling King Snakes, whose lead singer was a young Robert Plant.
He returned to ‘A Way of Life’, but soon rejoined Robert Plant’s new group, Band of Joy. Then in 1968 he and Robert, along with guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones formed the legendary hard rock band Led Zeppelin.
He was a preferred member of Zeppelin when Page formed another band after the Yardbirds broke up in 1968. Bonham was reluctant to join, even as he was supposed to compete for the position with other percussion greats like Ainsley Dunbar and Ginger Baker. Supposedly he was just looking for a regular gig with a regular income. This is probably the reason he kept on gigging with others in the first couple of years of Zeppelin when he did sessions with Lulu, Maurice Gibb of the Beegees, The Family Dogg, Screaming Lord Sutch, Wings, Harry Nilsson’s band Count Downe and many more.
Led Zeppelin sold over 300 million records worldwide, including 111.5 million certified units in the United States, making them one of the world’s top-selling music artists of all time, as well as the second best selling band of all time in the United States. John was esteemed for his speed, power, fast right foot, distinctive sound, and “feel” for the groove. Contrary to so may early rock drummers, John knew how to tune his drums to fit a song, which was a producer’s dream. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock music by many drummers, other musicians, and commentators in the industry. John was found dead at guitarist’s Jimmy Page’s house, having died of asphyxiation, after inhaling his own vomit after excessive vodka consumption, 40 shots in 4 hours.