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strombringer101

The Trouble with Bonham. 1978-80

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Posted (edited)

Around 1977 we all know the tragedy that befell R, Plant and his son. As the story goes, Plant was considering becoming a teacher of some sort. He was truly intending to leave Zeppelin behind. Well there is many videos and article stating that it was Bonham encouraging Plant to comeback. Well they end up making 1 more album, and then doing a small tour of Europe; before heading off to America. Well the last time Zeppelin was preparing for the American tour, John Bonham kinda freaks out while drunk saying "He doesn't want to do this anymore, I want to sing, I am not that good of a drummer now." (I am paraphrasing of course.) So this is my problem with this situation: What changed in Bonzo?, Was the drinking taking a serious effect on his mental health? If he didn't want to be a drummer anymore, why ask Robert to comeback? Was there an underling issue with Bonzo from the beginning?  I have read to many stories of his rage against anyone. Was John Bonham bipolar ? I know the only people that could answer these questions would be the band members and family, though I think it raises a good question. https://www.loudersound.com/features/the-last-days-of-led-zeppelin-days-of-thunder

Edited by strombringer101
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In the article you linked to he supposedly suggests to Robert that they switch roles. If it actually happened it was during the journey to rehearsal with Robert and not a drunken freak out and he was obviously not being serious. 

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This is the actual quote, which I believe has been relayed by Robert Plant:-

“I’ve had it with playing drums. Everybody plays better than me. I’ll tell you what, when we get to the rehearsal, you play the drums and I’ll sing.”

Not really worth over analysing is it?

The problem with John Bonham was that he was an alcoholic, very, very sad but there you go.

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Alcoholism made him a Jekyll/Hyde kinda person, very tragic.   Alcohol is a depressant, I’m sure that didn’t help his confidence either.  

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Any idea that Bonzo's playing had deteriorated can be allayed by watching the Knebworth footage. Specifically Achilles Last Stand.

I wonder if the collapse at Nuremberg had knocked his confidence, not in his playing but in his stamina? In all his time, he'd never let the band down once, and maybe that incident put doubts in his mind re the US tour. If you listen to bootlegs he's playing well before Nuremberg, but very conservatively afterwards.

As bluecongo said, alcohol being a depressant doesn't help with confidence in the long term. The whole thing is so desperately sad, especially for the impact it had on the family.

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Posted (edited)

Bonzo just wasn't the same to me on the 1980 European Tour and much of the 1977 tour (although he clearly had his moments). He was overweight and out of shape, and you cannot be that as a drummer playing the kind of music LZ played. It's going to show at times. I don't wish to insinuate that I feel John became a bad drummer. He just wasn't the same guy he used to be. He wasn't as consistent.

The saddest thing about Bonzo for me is that by the time LZ was ready to hit America before he died, Richard Cole and many of the band's bad influences were gone. Starting in the 80's, it started becoming normal for established rock bands like the Rolling Stones to bring their families on the road. The groupie circus was over. The band's kids were getting older. Even with some lingering issues, It just seemed like LZ was changing.

I sometimes wonder if anyone ever sat Bonzo down and said, "Man, you can start bringing your kids and wife along. You don't have to do this to yourself." I don't know. I can only speculate because I only know so much about the band because they kept things so secret (not saying this is wrong), and the sources of information on the band I just don't trust that much. Which is why I am hoping this 50 anniversary book provides a bit more insight than just random commentary on the photos, but it probably won't. The mystique is part of what makes this band.

But the one thing that Bonzo CLEARLY seemed to be unhappy about while touring or recording was being separated from his loved ones. I just wonder if something could've been arranged to better that situation. Again, especially considering that it was 1980 and it wasn't 1970 anymore.

Edited by ThreeSticks

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ThreeSticks said:

But the one thing that Bonzo CLEARLY seemed to be unhappy about while touring or recording was being separated from his loved ones. I just wonder if something could've been arranged to better that situation. Again, especially considering that it was 1980 and it wasn't 1970 anymore.

It could have and should have got the attention of Peter Grant. The most unfortunate thing in the end was Grant was as far gone as Jimmy with the addiction/excess (as I understand it) so the focus on band management was not what it once was. Not to say "Peter is to blame" at all. The man was indeed the fifth member and what he did for the band can not be overstated. He was a giant and allowed Led Zeppelin to become legendary. But in the end, battling his own demons, he most likely had a more limited capacity to really focus on the bands well being and needs as much as he potentially could have.

At the end of the day, if Bonzo, Jimmy and Peter did not scale it back, someone would not have come back from a '81 US tour in all likelihood.

Edited by rm2551

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Bonzo was a home body ...period. You can see the footage that he selected for TSRTS and it shows you what he was best at. John was also very very young and I think we forget that a lot. Being in your mid to late 20s in the presence of Jimmy Page and Peter Grant ,who were actually the ones leading band, he was influenced as would almost a teenager would be. Him and Percy were the inexperienced young ones of the band. John would binge drink, take it all out on his lad Robert , who he was closest with, and say things that were pure emotion.  Jimmy , Richard Cole and Grant were industry guys who knew the ropes and dealth with them by using drugs. John followed and I would assume it was late 1976 where things started to get crazy. Robert was intelligent enough to command control of himself and be a gentlemen . It was actually Robert who matured the most during Zeps tenure ( you can tell with his voices d singing changes also). It was Jonsey who continued to not participate. It was Page who was losing playing ability and was probably nearing rehab in 1980. However, Bonzo lacked the maturity of Plant, the focus of Jonsey and he wasn't the leader of the band. Bonzo was the kid who was prompted to do pranks and was everyone's foil especially Cole and the Road crew. We all had a kid like this as a friend growing up. As Bonzo reached the age of 30 and his kids were getting bigger, the 80s were looming , music was changing , touring in the 70s exhausting and ITTOD signaling a band change musically a bit...I think Bonzo needed to refuel. He needed his family but the older wouldn't have it because simply they didn't understand it. John would cry on Robert and just use alcohol and drugs to ease his pain. I personally feel, and this is just me, that Robert feels that Jimmy, Grant and Cole could have maybe stepped in and guided Bonzo into a different direction instead of influencing him. I think that past pain along with the death of Karac is something Robert will take to his grave.

 

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, Blaize86 said:

Robert feels that Jimmy, Grant and Cole could have maybe stepped in and guided Bonzo into a different direction instead of influencing him.

I doubt that, considering they had their own demons to deal with. When you want to get high/get a fix and you have ample access to the high quality drugs, the last thing you think about is telling another addict/drug buddy that they're the ones that need help. No Plantations about Dr. Badgley on the 80 tour as far as I know, but maybe if he was a long he could have intervened?  

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On ‎6‎/‎26‎/‎2018 at 4:30 AM, Blaize86 said:

Bonzo was a home body ...period. You can see the footage that he selected for TSRTS and it shows you what he was best at. John was also very very young and I think we forget that a lot. Being in your mid to late 20s in the presence of Jimmy Page and Peter Grant ,who were actually the ones leading band, he was influenced as would almost a teenager would be. Him and Percy were the inexperienced young ones of the band. John would binge drink, take it all out on his lad Robert , who he was closest with, and say things that were pure emotion.  Jimmy , Richard Cole and Grant were industry guys who knew the ropes and dealth with them by using drugs. John followed and I would assume it was late 1976 where things started to get crazy. Robert was intelligent enough to command control of himself and be a gentlemen . It was actually Robert who matured the most during Zeps tenure ( you can tell with his voices d singing changes also). It was Jonsey who continued to not participate. It was Page who was losing playing ability and was probably nearing rehab in 1980. However, Bonzo lacked the maturity of Plant, the focus of Jonsey and he wasn't the leader of the band. Bonzo was the kid who was prompted to do pranks and was everyone's foil especially Cole and the Road crew. We all had a kid like this as a friend growing up. As Bonzo reached the age of 30 and his kids were getting bigger, the 80s were looming , music was changing , touring in the 70s exhausting and ITTOD signaling a band change musically a bit...I think Bonzo needed to refuel. He needed his family but the older wouldn't have it because simply they didn't understand it. John would cry on Robert and just use alcohol and drugs to ease his pain. I personally feel, and this is just me, that Robert feels that Jimmy, Grant and Cole could have maybe stepped in and guided Bonzo into a different direction instead of influencing him. I think that past pain along with the death of Karac is something Robert will take to his grave. 

 

 

 

 

This doesn't make sense to me given the inactivity between the 1977 tour and 1980. John just had a long run at home and would have been in his best mental health place in years if what you are saying is true.

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Posted (edited)

1977 didn't exactly finish well for Bonzo. In fact the next gig was only 13 months later and not in 1980 which sounds so distant. 

The Copenhagen shows were great and the Knebworth shows were spotty and to me he looked heavy. 

Going to America is a big endeavor for a band not to mention a " dinasour " band. I think the mix of heroin and alcohol was still breathing from the 77 tour ( hence the Graham incident ). I think John welcomed alcohol better than H. I feel that when reality set in and America was in sight , the images from the last tour were weighing as was Jimmy's condition , Grant's condition and Cole being a total looney. I feel that he was nervous. Believe it or not on another note,  Zep did suffer from Stage fright quite often hence the pic from , I believe ,  a 77 show , maybe Pontiac , where they are backstage drinking and smoking before hitting the stage. Bonzo was homesick ..period. I bet his wife was pressuring him and his only shoulder was Robert. He was there for Percy when Karac past and John was a good friend when reality set in. Again I will say it was Cole, Pagey and Grant that didn't  stop him from his demons. I still believe Robert wears that truth every day and doesn't want anything to do with it. As far as him and Pagey in the 90s, it was maybe for reasons I will never know. 

I know there were alot things going on and a lot , this fan , and every other fan were not privey to since Zep were a mystery. 

I welcome any explanation. 

Edited by Blaize86

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12 hours ago, Blaize86 said:

1977 didn't exactly finish well for Bonzo. In fact the next gig was only 13 months later and not in 1980 which sounds so distant. 

The Copenhagen shows were great and the Knebworth shows were spotty and to me he looked heavy. 

Going to America is a big endeavor for a band not to mention a " dinasour " band. I think the mix of heroin and alcohol was still breathing from the 77 tour ( hence the Graham incident ). I think John welcomed alcohol better than H. I feel that when reality set in and America was in sight , the images from the last tour were weighing as was Jimmy's condition , Grant's condition and Cole being a total looney. I feel that he was nervous. Believe it or not on another note,  Zep did suffer from Stage fright quite often hence the pic from , I believe ,  a 77 show , maybe Pontiac , where they are backstage drinking and smoking before hitting the stage. Bonzo was homesick ..period. I bet his wife was pressuring him and his only shoulder was Robert. He was there for Percy when Karac past and John was a good friend when reality set in. Again I will say it was Cole, Pagey and Grant that didn't  stop him from his demons. I still believe Robert wears that truth every day and doesn't want anything to do with it. As far as him and Pagey in the 90s, it was maybe for reasons I will never know. 

I know there were alot things going on and a lot , this fan , and every other fan were not privey to since Zep were a mystery. 

I welcome any explanation. 

I agree he looked heavy at Knebworth but I can't agree his performance was spotty. He is a beast all through the 4th Aug show and tight in the second show. Page's performance varies wildly, but Bonzo played great imo.

The second half of the 1980 tour was a different matter and as I posted further upthread, I wonder if his confidence was knocked by the collapse at Nuremberg.

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Well to me Bonzo was still capable of greatness in 77', overall played well at Knebworth, but a good portion of the 80' tour

Bonzo just was not himself. IMO, he had an almost steeper decline than Jimmy. I have all the 80' shows and a good portion of

the time Bonham is just keeping time, all of the skill set Bonzo usually had wasn't on display much. Obviously alcohol and being

quite overweight hurt his stamina, apparently.

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On 7/5/2018 at 4:29 PM, Blaize86 said:

1977 didn't exactly finish well for Bonzo. In fact the next gig was only 13 months later and not in 1980 which sounds so distant

July 24 1977 Oakland  - July 23 1979 Denmark . . Almost 2 years to the day. . 

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On 6/20/2018 at 10:54 AM, Mook said:

This is the actual quote, which I believe has been relayed by Robert Plant:-

“I’ve had it with playing drums. Everybody plays better than me. I’ll tell you what, when we get to the rehearsal, you play the drums and I’ll sing.”

Not really worth over analysing is it?

The problem with John Bonham was that he was an alcoholic, very, very sad but there you go.

And not the only one in the band either, but different people manage that condition differently.

Cheers,
Indi

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I ask this with the greatest of respect. Did anyone in the band ever enter rehab. They seemed as a band to conduct business away from the public eye and they seem in great shape now but what a tragedy we lost Mr Bonham.

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Well Steve A. would know best but Jimmy was shipped off to a "health farm" once or twice in the mid to late seventies with some member of management( I think Phil Carson). However it was to fatten Jimmy up, some fans still don't know that Jimmy

had a very sensitive stomach even before Zep. Overall heavy touring seemed to really aggravate his stomach trouble. Also there is speculation that Jimmy totally changed his blood before going to play in the U.S. ARMS shows, not sure if his previous U.K

drug convictions mandated this. Or if that made withdrawal symptoms easier from heroin. Formal rehab, don't think so.

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Did not know of Jimmy stomach issues or his drug convictions. I am pleased he fought and won the battle with his demons as we lost too many talented musicians to drugs.  

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5 minutes ago, anniemouse said:

Did not know of Jimmy stomach issues or his drug convictions. I am pleased he fought and won the battle with his demons as we lost too many talented musicians to drugs.  

I think on the first few US Zep tours, Page was vegetarian. Presumably that was to do with his stomach issues, though he was always watching his weight.

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Well I think the touring, back then it wasn't so easy to find good vegetarian food except in the largest cities, and not sure Jimmy

would ante up all the delivery costs and hassles involved. I do remember reading that Jimmy was stuck many times with room

service, and usually that was hamburgers and fries. Jimmy was vain, but I can't really see him watching his weight, unless you

mean avoiding underweight, which of course would affect his playing. Even the Heroin, don't know if the weight loss was 100%

drug related. Perhaps a stupid explanation, but when Zep started in with all the accidents and "bad luck", there are a few mentions  that Jimmy was pretty unnerved and psychologically affected pretty negatively by all the bad events and  vibes

surr ounding the band starting somewhere about 75'. .???

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Typically speaking, the simplest explanation is usually the most likely. The band had been inactive from July 26th 77'- July 22nd 79' insofar as touring is concerned. They recorded ITTOD in November of 78', played four gigs close to and in England in 79' and a short European tour in 80'. So from mid-77' to early fall 80' Bonzo was in essence home most of the time and his wife / family were used to this for three years. Anyone who is or has been married knows where I am going here. Bonzo was not hurting for cash, he had more money than creases, he wanted to be home, his wife and family wanted him home. The looming American tour was simply too much and I heard his wife Pat was rather unhappy about something and I would bet a dime to a dollar it was the American tour. I am of course making an assumption here but is it a stretch to believe Pat had given John an ultimatum, either his family or the road and John felt split, torn between the two as he did not want to disappoint his family or his band. He could have believed himself in a no-win situation which resulted in September 25th.

This is all speculation of course but makes about as much sense as anything else. Zeppelin should have called it quits, or at least gone on long-term hiatus after the European tour. I am assuming, again, that the reason for the American tour leads once again back to Jimmy and Grant, afraid if they did go on long-term hiatus Zeppelin would be forgotten.

From a purely cultural perspective it would have made perfect sense for Zeppelin to take a break for at least five years after the European tour. Give Robert space to go solo, Bonzo & Jones time with family, and Page / Grant time to sober up and get healthy.

This is what happens when ego comes before both the heart and common sense.

Edited by IpMan

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14 hours ago, IpMan said:

Typically speaking, the simplest explanation is usually the most likely. The band had been inactive from July 26th 77'- July 22nd 79' insofar as touring is concerned. They recorded ITTOD in November of 78', played four gigs close to and in England in 79' and a short European tour in 80'. So from mid-77' to early fall 80' Bonzo was in essence home most of the time and his wife / family were used to this for three years. Anyone who is or has been married knows where I am going here. Bonzo was not hurting for cash, he had more money than creases, he wanted to be home, his wife and family wanted him home. The looming American tour was simply too much and I heard his wife Pat was rather unhappy about something and I would bet a dime to a dollar it was the American tour. I am of course making an assumption here but is it a stretch to believe Pat had given John an ultimatum, either his family or the road and John felt split, torn between the two as he did not want to disappoint his family or his band. He could have believed himself in a no-win situation which resulted in September 25th.

This is all speculation of course but makes about as much sense as anything else. Zeppelin should have called it quits, or at least gone on long-term hiatus after the European tour. I am assuming, again, that the reason for the American tour leads once again back to Jimmy and Grant, afraid if they did go on long-term hiatus Zeppelin would be forgotten.

From a purely cultural perspective it would have made perfect sense for Zeppelin to take a break for at least five years after the European tour. Give Robert space to go solo, Bonzo & Jones time with family, and Page / Grant time to sober up and get healthy.

This is what happens when ego comes before both the heart and common sense.

Interesting thought about them going into a longer hiatus after Karac's death. In hindsight, it surely was the move they should have made. But it was a relatively turbulent time for Classic Rock bands around 1980. They were already being labelled a Dinosaur and to further retreat from the public may have been considered a career suicide. There would have been a new generation of "competition" with the Metal bands and Hair bands gaining in popularity. Could they have survived and thrived in this new environment. Not sure if the 1980 version as we know it could have. If indeed they could have sobered up and get their chops back, then it would certainly would have been interesting to see how they approached the new metal and hair band scene.

A thorough and honest interview with the surviving members would perhaps shed some light onto what their attitude and direction in the 80's would have been. I don't recall ever reading anything in depth about this. Of course, they probably have no clue to what the band would have been beyond the next album, which Jimmy said would have been a more rocking album than ITTOD. 

 

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The key here is more Robert as far as any substantial time off, than anything else. Besides Jimmy's comments, I really think

noone said much about the future, because Robert as well didn't want to do the 80' US Tour pt.1. And Robert had had it with

Zep's somewhat gangsterish atmosphere and Jimmy's almost shocking decline in physical health and playing skill due at least

in part to the addiction(s)' taking over. About 6,7 years into Robert's solo career, in various interviews he would mention in a

veiled manner how late Zep was heavily compromised by the addictions and lack of practice which to him hurt the live shows.

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