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Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience (Tour)


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Bonzo Jr. takes on Moby Dick

By Graham Rockingham

Wed, Oct 20 2010

Hamilton Spectator

It's not always easy being your father's son, especially when you are a rock 'n' roll drummer and your father's name is John Bonham.

John Bonham, of course, was the drummer of Led Zeppelin. Many people consider him the greatest of all, certainly in the same league as Keith Moon, Ginger Baker or Ringo Starr.

Jason Bonham was just 14 when his father died of asphyxiation after a full day of drinking. That was 30 years ago, and young Jason was already following in his father's footsteps. He had been playing drums ever since he was four or five. Dad was a good teacher.

By the time he was 16, Jason was playing drums on demo sessions for Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant's first two solo albums. A few years later, he found himself working behind the drum kit for Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page's solo project. In 1988, Jason played drums with Page, Plant and bassist John Paul Jones at an Atlantic Records 40th anniversary party.

And when the guys decided to hold a full-fledged Led Zeppelin reunion concert in 2007 at London's 02 Arena, it was only natural to call on Jason to sit in for his father. It proved to be one of the biggest concerts of the decade, attracting fans from around the world. In rock 'n' roll terms, it was a truly historic occasion.

Like everyone else in the music business, Jason thought that the success of the London show meant a full reunion tour was a certainty. Think of the gate receipts, hundreds of millions of dollars. How could it not happen? But it never did. Plant decided to go in a different direction.

"I really thought it would go on," Jason Bonham admits in an interview. "Because it was so good, logical thinking didn't go any other way. It was like 'this has to go on.' And we all felt it. But if it had to be just the one time, what a gig to get it right."

After it became apparent there would be no tour, Jason started receiving offers to form a Led Zeppelin tribute band. Initially, he refused. He had, after all, played with the real thing. And he had other bands, including Foreigner, to work with.

Jason started rethinking the tribute idea when he realized it could be more than just a band playing covers. Through the tasteful use of video screens, he could tell the story of his father's life, provide fans with the other side of John Bonham's life.

John Bonham had a reputation of being the wildest member of the most hedonistic rock 'n' roll band on the planet. Known as Bonzo to his bandmates and fans alike, John Bonham defined excess. He lived as hard as he played the drums. And no one played harder.

Jason, however, remembers his dad differently. The two became close during the three years before the older Bonham died in 1980 at the age of 32. That was a period of inactivity for Led Zeppelin and relative domesticity for its drummer. There were no tours and little recording.

"He was a quiet guy," Jason says about his dad during that period. "Everyone knew Bonzo, but nobody knew about John. I want everyone to see the other side of Dad, what made him tick. He loved building and doing construction, redesigning and rebuilding old derelict homes to luxury potential. That was his trade before the band. He worked as a carpenter."

So Jason took control of the tribute project, putting together a top-calibre band and calling it Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience. There are no costumes or look-a-likes, just a group of musicians trying to do the music justice. There are also home videos, some stretching back to John Bonham's childhood, as well as plenty of vintage Led Zeppelin concert footage.

"There are parts of the show that are kind of fun and there are also parts that are very emotional," Jason says. "You see these images of Dad when he's a child. You never imagine that this guy went on to be Bonzo, the beast of Led Zeppelin. You see this young kid wearing shorts and running around in a family vacation film from the late '50s."

At one point in the show, with the aid of video technology, Jason plays drums in tandem with his father on the signature tune, Moby Dick. The song is an extended instrumental, featuring one of Jimmy Page's better known guitar riffs. But it is mostly a very long drum solo, sometimes stretching to 20 minutes in length.

"I play with him on screen, side by side," Jason explains. "That's the most painstakingly difficult part of the show. You really have to have your wits about you. You can go out of sync so easily. At one point, I do it kind of tongue-in-cheek, where he goes so fast, I just stop, look at the screen, and go 'OK, fair enough.'"

When Jason completes the current tour of the Led Zeppelin Experience, which comes to Hamilton Place Oct. 27, he'll join up with his other band, Black Country Communion. Consisting of former Deep Purple/Black Sabbath singer Glenn Hughes, guitar virtuoso Joe Bonamassa and ex-Alice Cooper keyboard player Derek Sherinian, Black Country Communion is already being touted as a "super group" in the style of Them Crooked Vultures.

Black Country Communion's self-titled CD debuted last month at No. 13 on the U.K. album chart, and the band begins a North American tour in two weeks.

Interestingly, the band's frontman and bass player Hughes was a close friend of John Bonham's.

"He remembers me as this child," Jason Bonham says about Hughes. "And now I'm this sometimes moody, miserable drummer at the back who stamps his feet when he doesn't get his own way. Sometimes he'll remind me of my dad with some old stories. He tells some really good stories."

grockingham@thespec.com

905-526-3331

Need to know

What: Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience

When: Wednesday, Oct. 27. Doors open at 7 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m.

Where: Hamilton Place

Tickets: $64.50, $49.50 and $39.50 (plus service charges), available at Copps Coliseum box office, online at ticketmaster.ca or 905-527-7666

http://www.thespec.c...es-on-moby-dick

Edited by SteveAJones
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I'm seeking eyewitness accounts of merchandise sales at the venues - authorized and unauthorized. What is being offered?

I'm also seeking eyewitness accounts of the pre-show VIP receptions - have all the bandmembers been present? Does Jason seem very much at ease with taking the time to do these? Is Jason/the band honoring requests for photographs and autographs?

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October 21st, 2010

Billy Cox and Jason Bonham

The song remains the same

by Richard Burnett

spacer.gif

Billy Cox and Jason Bonham pay tribute to Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin

When I told Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones some years ago that I had saved up my allowance to buy a Led Zep ticket at the Montreal Forum just days before drummer John Bonham died in September 1980, Jones told me, "I guess that makes us the greatest rock band you never saw!"

Last week, as Bonham's son Jason launched his 31-city Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience Tour, Bonham - who has the blessing of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and Jones - told Hour, "If my dad was still here I wouldn't be doing this!"

Bonham's multimedia Led Zep Experience Tour (it even features home movies!) is one of two high-wattage tribute tours pit-stopping in Montreal this autumn, the other being the 2010 Experience Hendrix Tribute Tour featuring Hendrix's long-time bass player Billy Cox, as well as Steve Vai, Jonny Lang, Los Lobos, Living Colour and others.

"Jimi and I were best friends," says Cox, 69, the last surviving member of Band Of Gypsys and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Cox and Hendrix first met in the U.S. Army in the early 1960s and played in R'n'B bands together the same decade both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King were assassinated.

"I think people still get hung up on [our] colour," says Cox today, recalling he reunited musically with Hendrix in Band Of Gypsys in 1969 before they played at Woodstock. "I'm a black American but back then we didn't consider ourselves black musicians. We were just musicians."

Meanwhile, Jason Bonham was just 14 when his father died in 1980. "I tried to emulate my dad, but the wrong way," the drummer says. "He left me when he was still my hero. When he died I hadn't even reached my rebellion stage yet. So [later] I felt hard done by."

Fresh from drumming for four years with Foreigner and recording with rock legends like Slash and Paul Rodgers, Bonham will reunite his band Black Country Communion after this tour. "I'd love to play my [own] band on the stereo and ask him, 'What do you think, dad?' I'm still looking for his approval."

As for Billy Cox, he doesn't need anybody's approval. But everybody seeks his.

There are two kinds of guitar players," Cox says. "Those who admit being influenced by Jimi and those who will not admit it."

And how does he feel when folks call Billy Cox a living legend?

Cox gets a little cranky. "How about Billy Cox is still living?"

Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience Tour

At Métropolis (59 Ste-Catherine E.), Oct. 23, 8 p.m.

2010 Experience Hendrix Tribute Tour At Place des Arts's Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Oct. 30, 8 p.m.

http://www.hour.ca/music/music.aspx?iIDArticle=20636

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Concert review: Zeppelin party a fine experience

By Rob Hubbard

Special to the Pioneer Press Updated: 10/20/2010 12:58:39 PM CDT

As legend has it, when guitarist Jimmy Page told Who drummer Keith Moon that he wanted to start a hard rock band built around the blues, Moon replied, "That should go over like a lead zeppelin." But go over it did, with that little London-based blues band becoming one of the iconic rock bands of the '70s, filling stadiums and setting standards for excess that eventually brought about the demise of its drummer, John Bonham, and, consequently, the band.

Three years ago, the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunited for a London concert with Bonham's son, Jason, manning his dad's old kit. They sounded so good that it's understandable why Bonham the younger craved the possibility of a tour together. But the others declined. However, the drummer decided to go on without them, gathering some musicians expert at Zeppelin covers and heading out on a tour as "Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience." On Tuesday night, the band performed its first U.S. show at Minneapolis' State Theatre, and it proved to be a fun celebration of Led Zeppelin's music, at its best when it tapped into the bluesy roots of the band's sound. Yes, the big anthemic show stoppers were present "Stairway to Heaven," "Kashmir" but the most exhilarating moments came when the blues were served relatively straight up, as on "The Lemon Song" and "Since I've Been Loving You." The nearly three-hour show wasn't a thrill ride, but instead a fine living history exhibit for boomers who still like to get the Led out now and then.

From early on, Bonham made it clear that he saw this tour as an opportunity to sing the praises of his father's life and legacy, perhaps gaining a sense of closure about a loss he suffered at the age of 14. So the audience was shown plenty of home movies of Bonham the elder in his childhood, teen years, and playing with young Jason as an adult. He also showed up for a drum duet with his son on "Moby Dick" and provided the thundering thump beneath "When the Levee Breaks."

John Bonham was indeed a legendary drummer who's inspired a couple of generations to take the rhythmic road less traveled, but it did begin to feel a bit odd that the three surviving members received almost no mention. That said, their roles were more than capably filled by the musicians of the "Experience." The standout was guitarist Tony Catania, who delivered Page's licks with all the right off-kilter abandon. But bassist Michael Devin was also exceptional, proving a considerably more showy player than John Paul Jones. While all had ample shoes to fill, vocalist James Dylan may have had the hardest task of all in imitating the distinctive wail of Robert Plant. Alas, he was often buried in the mix in the early going, and grew raspy as the evening went on. But he had the audience to lean on as they unleashed their choral capabilities on the a cappella bridge of "The Ocean" and the balladic beginning of "Over the Hills and Far Away." At such moments, the true spirit of the evening came through: This wasn't about re-creating a Zeppelin concert, but having a party with their music. And it was a pretty fun one.

Edited by kenog
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I'm seeking eyewitness accounts of merchandise sales at the venues - authorized and unauthorized. What is being offered?

I'm also seeking eyewitness accounts of the pre-show VIP receptions - have all the bandmembers been present? Does Jason seem very much at ease with taking the time to do these? Is Jason/the band honoring requests for photographs and autographs?

I only saw one Merchandise table

a couple of mens and women shirts to choose from(The Led Zeppelin Experience), I think 2 basic prints but maybe 5 or 6 different shirts? $30

autographed drum head $30

Jason's "used" drumsticks $5

and lanyards

Nothing unauthorized that I saw.

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Jason's "used" drumsticks $5

I seldom if ever ask anything of anyone but I'd really like at least one set of Jason's sticks from this tour. If anyone out there is kind enough to pick a pair up for me I'll gladly cover the expense (or arrange a trade if that is preferred). I won't be at any of the gigs until the last week of the tour and would really hate to miss out on acquiring memrobilia such as sticks from earlier dates of the tour.

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I seldom if ever ask anything of anyone but I'd really like at least one set of Jason's sticks from this tour. If anyone out there is kind enough to pick a pair up for me I'll gladly cover the expense (or arrange a trade if that is preferred). I won't be at any of the gigs until the last week of the tour and would really hate to miss out on acquiring memrobilia such as sticks from earlier dates of the tour.

just so you know, they are $5 each. So a pair would be $10. :)

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Jason's "used" drumsticks $5

I have one of these from the Disregard for Timekeeping Tour when they played the now defunct Attic in Greenville, NC. Jason stuck around after the show to talk to fans, very cool fellow. It was a real pleasure to meet him. My friend was wearing a Now and Zen tour shirt, when Jason saw that, he walked up to my friend and tweaked Plant's nose. Funny stuff.

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I seldom if ever ask anything of anyone but I'd really like at least one set of Jason's sticks from this tour. If anyone out there is kind enough to pick a pair up for me I'll gladly cover the expense (or arrange a trade if that is preferred). I won't be at any of the gigs until the last week of the tour and would really hate to miss out on acquiring memrobilia such as sticks from earlier dates of the tour.

If they are selling them in Jax consider it done:-)

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I'm seeking eyewitness accounts of merchandise sales at the venues - authorized and unauthorized. What is being offered?

I'm also seeking eyewitness accounts of the pre-show VIP receptions - have all the bandmembers been present? Does Jason seem very much at ease with taking the time to do these? Is Jason/the band honoring requests for photographs and autographs?

Forget all this. Didn't read far enough back. The laminates issues already covered. Mods please delete.

My son and I went to the show in Edmonton. One of the items not mentioned in other replies to your question is that they are selling 'laminates' (pseudo backstage passes, I think - I didn't get a close look) at the merch table. After the show at the merch table a number is pulled of the people who bought laminates and the winner is escorted backstage to meet Jason. To our knowledge this activity was not posted or announced anywhere. We became aware of it only after conversing with the mixing board guys to see if Jason would be available for autographs (he wasn't / isn't). They put me on to a blond gal that is traveling with the show and works the merch table. She administered the laminate draw and took the winner (17 - 18 year old kid who was beaming ear-to-ear) back to meet Jason.

Edited by Keepa Coolin' Baby
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The Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas does not have typical food and beverage offerings like many other venues do.

Instead, they offer buffet dining, with reservations, or food and beverage from the Bistro.

Here is a link to the information:

http://www.musichalldining.com/Restautants.htm

What they could not tell me yet, is if they were going to be serving for the Jason Bonham LZE on the 18th of November. They said they would know perhaps by the 1st of November if they would be offering the buffet for the show.

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I've underlined some parts in the text to which I want to draw your attention.

From: The Montreal Gazette

'Through Dad's eyes, you know'

Jason Bonham, son of late Led Zeppelin drummer, and tribute band doing it the way Zep did it on stage

By BERNARD PERUSSE, The Gazette October 23, 2010 8:26 AM

  • "I was trying to impress just the three guys on stage. I never looked past the edge of the stage," Jason Bonham says of reunion concert with surviving members of Led Zeppelin three years ago.

When Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died with 40 shots of vodka under his belt 30 years ago, he had acquired a reputation as one of rock's unhinged wild men. Like fellow basher Keith Moon, who had met a similar end with pills two years earlier, Bonham was synonymous with rock-star excess.

Bonham's son, Jason, was only 14 when he lost his father and his memories are more idyllic. He remembers the man he still constantly refers to as "Dad" as being up at 6 a.m., making sandwiches and preparing the cooler before waking him.

The junior Bonham is now out on the road playing drums with Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, a band that pays tribute to the beloved hard-rock avatars and plays two sets of Zep evergreens tonight at the Metropolis. But apart from the automatic blood cred, Bonham recently took his father's place behind the drum kit with the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin -Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones -for a high-profile reunion show.

Technically, it wasn't the first time the survivors played together since the group disbanded in 1980, in the wake of the elder Bonham's death. But the one-time return of Led Zeppelin three years ago at London's 02 Arena, before 18,000 excited fans, was the first full show since the breakup.

"I was trying to impress just the three guys on stage. I never looked past the edge of the stage," Bonham remembered during a telephone interview this week. "It was to get a smile from Jimmy or a nod from John Paul Jones or a glance back from Robert. That was my goal on that evening."

Bonham said that during the performance of Dazed and Confused that night, he even had a moment straight out of The Song Remains the Same, the 1976 Zeppelin concert-fantasy film. It happened when Jones looked back at him to share a quick laugh over a small mistake. "I just said 'Oh, my God, it's that moment!' Through Dad's eyes, you know? I'm looking at this guy who, in the movie, was staring back at him."

After that show, speculation about a more permanent reunion, or at least a tour, seemed out of control. Eventually, however, it was reported that Plant had declined further participation.

The singer took Bonham and Bonham's son to a soccer game a few weeks after the 02 show and explained everything, Bonham said.

"We had a good chat and I understood," he said.

And while he wasn't about to betray any confidences, Bonham said there was more to the whole thing than meets the eye.

"It's not as simple as 'Robert didn't want to do it,' " he said.

Page, Jones and Bonham did get together in 2008 and while some media reported that they were auditioning new singers, Bonham said they were only writing new material. "It was never going to be Led Zeppelin," Bonham said.

He did, however, say he would love to finish the songs the three started and expressed hope they would be used in a future project.

While Bonham's tribute band might not be Led Zeppelin either, it does, with technological help, feature his father. Unseen photos from family archives, shown on stage, keep the late drummer alive and the mystery of what Bonham, as a child, was playing on that drum kit in The Song Remains the Same will be revealed during the show. Most intriguingly, the carefully choreographed use of video allows the two Bonhams to play a drum solo together on Moby Dick -a moment, Bonham said, that always leaves a few "tearful eyes."

The raison d'etre of the group, of course, is to pay homage to the Led Zeppelin repertoire without making it sound like a museum piece. Changes are constantly made to the set list, Bonham said, and he warned against expectations that the songs will sound like the studio versions. After all, it's not like Led Zeppelin didn't take colossal liberties with their material on stage.

"I gave the guys in the band about 30 to 40 different bootlegs to listen to," Bonham said. "The real diehards know exactly what we're doing. It's really cool when you see someone get it. They go 'Oh my God! They're doing the Birmingham gig, 1971!' "

Bonham, who said his favourite performance of his father's is on Achilles Last Stand, from Presence, contended that the Zeppelin catalogue refuses to get old, constantly yielding neglected treasures like Night Flight on Physical Graffiti.

His own children, a 17-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, have seen and appreciated the vintage records and photos, but his son was shocked when Bonham showed him a recent shot of the surviving members. "He looks and goes 'But they're old!' " Bonham said, laughing. "He couldn't get it, you know? To them, Zeppelin are still a young band."

His son, he said, plays drums a little, but hasn't shown an intense desire to carry on the family tradition and get behind the kit.

"Who knows? My dad didn't start playing until he was 15," Bonham said. "So I said to my son, 'You've got another year.' "

Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience plays tonight at 8 at Metropolis, 59 Ste. Catherine St. E. Tickets cost $49.50. Phone 514-790-1245 or go to www.admission.com.

Edited by kenog
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His own children, a 17-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, have seen and appreciated the vintage records and photos, but his son was shocked when Bonham showed him a recent shot of the surviving members. "He looks and goes 'But they're old!' " Bonham said, laughing. "He couldn't get it, you know? To them, Zeppelin are still a young band."

This quote doesn't quite make sense to me because earlier in the interview he said Robert Plant took them both to a soccer game a few weeks after the 02 concert. Going from memory the last time Page, Plant and Jones were photographed in public together was Sep 2, 2008 (at the Royal Opera House in London to attend the GQ awards and receive Men of the Year Award). So the question becomes is the photo of Page, Plant and Jones he showed his son more recent than that? If so, what was the occasion - band business meeting? private party?

Edited by SteveAJones
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This quote doesn't quite make sense to me because earlier in the interview he said Robert Plant took them both to a soccer game a few weeks after the 02 concert. Going from memory the last time Page, Plant and Jones were photographed in public together was Sep 2, 2008 (at the Royal Opera House in London to attend the GQ awards and receive Men of the Year Award). So the question becomes is the photo of Page, Plant and Jones he showed his son more recent than that? If so, what was the occasion - band business meeting? private party?

SAJ,

I was thinking about this too, just after I posted it. It doesn't make sense to me either, and I have to say that I think it is a piece of made up nonsense. Jason's children are 17 and 14 years old - they are not small children who would perhaps have never met, or seen recent pictures of, RP,JP and JPJ. Obviously, I do not know if they were in attendance at the O2, but they are bound to have seen the post-gig press photos, and they were in Robert's company shortly thereafter. The three remaining LZ members have not aged that much since December 2007.

Edited by kenog
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