“John Bonham’s death let’s just say it before we say it, John Bonham’s death, John Bonham’s appearance on the first album and Good Times Bad Times, changed the drums overnight,” Page said in 2015. Put to bed shortly after midnight at Jimmy Page’s home in Windsor, southern England, Bonham was found lifeless the next day by sound engineer Benji Lefebvre and bassist John Paul Jones. Grant was referring to the accident that marked the band’s first reunion during a 1985 fundraiser in London and Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, Page, Plante and Jones were joined by two drummers to make up for Bonham’s absence, Phil Collins and Tony Thompson. The drummer has influenced legions of players past and present. Anyone who took up sticks in earnest turned to the man sometimes called “The Beast” to learn such a complex and unique rhythmic approach to “his” craft. It has been 12 years since John Bonham’s musical contributions have been appreciated by the music world in every way–that “he” has changed the way drums are played, that “he” has changed the way people think about drums and music. To understand the original foundation on which a drummer plays in the current era of rock or metal, you have to listen to John Bonham. “It will never be the same,” Grant said in 1990. It was those four men, it was Led Zeppelin. The backbone of Led Zeppelin went silent when John Bonham was found dead in September. The drummer drank about 40 shots of vodka in a day and night during rehearsals for the band’s North American tour, which had been announced exactly two weeks earlier and was scheduled to begin in less than a month. “He was the master of the groove,” said Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward. So when the surviving members of the band met with their manager, Peter Grant, at London’s Savoy Hotel a few weeks later, the unanimous conclusion was that Led could not exist in a post-Bonham world. It was, “Let’s go to Bonzo’s and see how he’s doing,” Jones said. Page said that Bonham’s death was “a great loss to everyone.” The following one-time performances were provided by Bonham’s son Jason, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of “his” father’s playing and the subtle changes “he” made to various performances throughout “his” career. “He wrote the bible of rock drummers. The music and spirit of Led Zeppelin – uniquely – were these four people.”
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