John Henry Bonham (Feature)

It was on this very day May 31st that Jack and Joan Bonham welcomed their first son into the world. The family lived in Hunt End which is 20 miles from Redditch in the West Midlands.

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John Bonham was drawn to drums and percussion from as young as five years of age. John used to play about on the bath salt containers and also a round coffee container, his parents could see he was determined to learn and his mum bought John a snare drum. He would start to take more of an interest in the drums and then his dad got him a Trixon  Red sparkle drumkit when he was fifteen years of age. John would be listening to records and playing along as best as he could. John got encouragement from a dance-band drummer by the name of Charlie Atkins, at a caravan park at Southport on Sea. Atkins could see a glimmer of potential in John and allowed him to sit at his kit and play. When John got back home he joined his local youth club and would practice his drumming as much as he could. At the age of sixteen John would join his first group which were called Terry Webb And The Spiders. They used to wear purple jackets with velvet lapels while the singer wore a gold suit. John enjoyed the band and would stay with them for just over a year.

John would then be practicing and learning his craft on the drumkit, getting ready to work with other bands and there were many, one band in particular were called The Crawling King Snakes which featured a young singer by the name of Robert Plant. John was also working by day for his Dad's building company helping out with bricklaying etc. At the age of seventeen John married his childhood sweetheart Pat Philips, money was tight and the couple were living in a caravan, John said to Pat that when we get married I will pack in playing the drums. John would come home from work and play on his drumkit he says that if he didn't play he would feel miserable.He was listening to jazz and soul music and eventually when playing with some friends he was spotted by a singer who was looking for a full time drummer. The singer was Tim Rose, Tim's regular drummer the highly rated Aynsley Dumbar couldn't make a tour so John got the call and he was put on £40 John was delighted with this and he turned proffessional. John had a child and the money at that time was alot. John was making a name for himself with his playing and people wwould go to the gigs to support him.

At this time a certain session guitarist was putting a band together his name is Jimmy Page. Jimmy had just left The Yardbirds and had got bass guitarist John Paul Jones then enlisted Robert plant on vocals all he needed was a drummer. Robert Plant had suggested his power house of a friend John Bonham so Jimmy Page told his manger Peter Grant to send him a telegram asking if he would be interested, after getting no reply its rumoured that 40 more Telegrams were sent. Then just as Jimmy was going to ask Procal Harlems drummer to join Tim Rose was doing a gig at The Marquee in London. Robert suggested they go and watch Tim Rose with John Bonham playing drums. Jimmy Page was delighted to see John playing and then John did a twenty minute drum solo. Jimmy told his manager to go and get him, I want him to join my new band. Word got out that Jimmy Page was putting a band together featuring John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and an unknown drummer from the Midlands, then Keith Moon  The Who's drummer said that will go down like a Lead Balloon. After giving his comment much thought they liked it and decided to change the lettering from Lead to Led then changed Balloon to Zeppelin and the bands name was decided as Led Zeppelin. A rehearsal room was booked and as John Paul Jones said John used a small four drum kit but he was an amazing drummer who locked in with my bass playing. We played an old  rock number which went on for over twenty minutes as we were all looking at each other and laughing at the excitement of playing with this great drummer. (to be continued)