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ThatsTheWay1991

If Bonzo had lived and Led Zeppelin never called it quits

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I am curious to see what people would think what would Led Zeppelin sound like in the 80's if John Bonham had never died? It seemed like their last album was starting to take them in a different direction on what their songs sounded like such as Carouselambra. With the exception of Coda, if Led Zeppelin released an album after In Through the Out Door, would it sound like a completely different Led Zeppelin from the 70's or would the Gods of rock keep to their original sound with Page's heavy riffs and Bonham's thunderous drumming?

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I've had nightmares about this. Robert forcing them to "keep up with the times" and Bonzo using Simmons drums. A Smacked out Jimmy doodling on his guitar synthesizer...I don't know, it may have been ok, but there were certainly horrible, trendy things happening then and who knows. Other bands got caught up in the whole "New Wave" thing. Drum machines, gated reverb, short 'quirky' songs. I think it would have been a tough environment for them, and maybe after a slow period featuring one or two failed experiments, they would have stormed back, loud & proud, more sure of what they do best

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Bonzo still here to me means a more great Zeppelin albums. They have never had an even "just good" album. They are all amazing (except for the crock o'...)

If he were alive they would still be together (or retired) and I don't believe they would have done separate projects because when Bonzo left us they never continued as Zeppelin without him. I think they knew he was (and still is) irreplaceable.

I bet they would have been quite amused at the debacle of the 80's hair stuff though. I doubt they would have followed that trend or that new wave bullshit, LZ set precedent not followed it.

They , to me , really were one of those "magic" bands where you need all 4 guys together to achieve and do what they did. To separate them just wouldn't have worked in my opinion.

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I agree with dazedcat....I think they would have progressed more toward where Robert went. Even for Knebworth and the 1980 European tour they adopted the hair/clothing trend of the 80's. Sadly, even ITTOD appears to me to have incorporated a lot more of the keyboard sound that was also a staple in 80's music (yea, I know Jimmy's issues during the making of that album). I just imagine a more gradual shift toward a popular sound....much like the Stones and Queen followed....including the early rock/blugrass stuff that Robert preferred.

Maybe it IS best that it ended when it did......

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I hate to be the one to say this but I believe if Bonzo would have lived, there is a good possibility Jimmy would have died. They would have toured America in late 80' - 81' as announced, and very possibly by the summer of 81' Jimmy would have been found deceased. I know this is a horrible thing but I really believe Bonham's death gave Jimmy pause, he still did not clean up until 84' but without the pressures of touring or producing anything he probably cut back on the H to a manageable level. Yes he did Death Wish II but that was done on his time with nothing else pending and with no real expectations. Jimmy was disappointed with ITTOD and was hungry to prove something had Zeppelin survived. That pressure, along with a touring schedule, competition from New Wave and Punk to remain relevant could have really pushed Jimmy to the limit. However, on a positive note, there is also the possibility that had Bonham survived Sept 25th or been revived he would have cleaned up, and in the process Jimmy would have cleaned up as well. They could have went into 81' a whole new, healthy, hungry band ready to kick ass and prove the energy and passion of 1969 was back and ready to go. There is a yin and yang in the universe so I prefer to go with the later scenario rather than the former.

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I hate to be the one to say this but I believe if Bonzo would have lived, there is a good possibility Jimmy would have died. They would have toured America in late 80' - 81' as announced, and very possibly by the summer of 81' Jimmy would have been found deceased. I know this is a horrible thing but I really believe Bonham's death gave Jimmy pause, he still did not clean up until 84' but without the pressures of touring or producing anything he probably cut back on the H to a manageable level. Yes he did Death Wish II but that was done on his time with nothing else pending and with no real expectations. Jimmy was disappointed with ITTOD and was hungry to prove something had Zeppelin survived. That pressure, along with a touring schedule, competition from New Wave and Punk to remain relevant could have really pushed Jimmy to the limit. However, on a positive note, there is also the possibility that had Bonham survived Sept 25th or been revived he would have cleaned up, and in the process Jimmy would have cleaned up as well. They could have went into 81' a whole new, healthy, hungry band ready to kick ass and prove the energy and passion of 1969 was back and ready to go. There is a yin and yang in the universe so I prefer to go with the later scenario rather than the former.

I agree with this.... although I also think there's a strong possibilty that Robert was getting a bit sick of the substance abuse and may have jumped ship before the end of an American tour.

Whatever way you look at it I don't think Zeppelin would have survived the 80's intact.

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I agree with this.... although I also think there's a strong possibilty that Robert was getting a bit sick of the substance abuse and may have jumped ship before the end of an American tour.Whatever way you look at it I don't think Zeppelin would have survived the 80's intact.

I agree that Robert would probably have gone off to do something else for little while (like was doing in the late 70's), Bonzo would have stayed home with his family like he wanted to JPJ would've done what JPJ does play with everyone he wants, Jimmy on the other hand would've, hopefully, cleaned up at and when they were hungry enough, they probably would've come back around '84-85 and kicked ass again! At least that's what I hoped would've happened....

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I agree that Robert would probably have gone off to do something else for little while (like was doing in the late 70's), Bonzo would have stayed home with his family like he wanted to JPJ would've done what JPJ does play with everyone he wants, Jimmy on the other hand would've, hopefully, cleaned up at and when they were hungry enough, they probably would've come back around '84-85 and kicked ass again! At least that's what I hoped would've happened....

My guess, (going off of the state/circumstances they were in prior to Bonham's death) - is that they probably (more chances than not) would have ended up like Aerosmith in the 80's. Breaking up due to major drug addictions that would have brought them back to conquer the world all over again years later. That's the reality of it that I could see happening. Sadly, we can only guess to what may have taken place. Thank God we are left with the amount of fabulous material they managed to produce.

Edited by Rock Historian

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I think they would have sounded much different and agree it would be very much like what Plant sounded like solo since it seemed to me that the band was turning more Plant/Jones than Page/Plant like in the early days. Bohnam didn't seem to be as influencial towards the end either. I think it would have been better than Plant's solo stuff and they would still be awesome. I just think it wouldn't have been the same. It probably would have sparked a lame controversy too. Like Van Halen vs Van Hagar or Young Elvis vs Vegas Elvis. Bluesy-70s Zep vs Popish-80s Zep. I think they would have broken up in the 80s anyways though.

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I'm not in the " Jimmy Page would have died if Zeppelin continued "camp. If anything would have killed him it would've been the inertia of doing nothing post Zep. Severely depressed and doing a shitload of drugs. That's a bad combo he emerged from.

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If you look at the difference from their 1980 Euro tour and previous years. Zep was going for a different sound, look, and everything in 1980 taking out much of their long extended sections in songs. But as far as I'm concerned I wish the band could've stayed between ages 20-25 forever lol

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Erm...

JPJ asserts his dominance with his synths

JB retrains on a Linn Drum Machine

Jimmy and Robert discover hairspray and shoulder pads

They start releasing singles and videos

Desmond Child and Diane Warren drafted in to help write singles

Jimmy relinquishes production duties to Mutt Lange or Bruce Fairburn

Headly Grange gets bulldozed and then in an 8 bit digital studio every instrument is recorded individually to a click track as dry as possible and then plastered with gated reverb and chorus

JPJ buys a DX7, Jimmy commissions a new triple neck guitar (12st, 6st, keytar)

Michael Winner puts a curse on Jimmy for not completing Death Wish II soundtrack

They write lots and lots of power ballads

And then in the 90's ....

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More of the same (i.e. how it was towards the end): they would have been cowed by all the "Zep are overblown pretentious bombastic dinosaurs" stuff that came with punk and new wave, and reacted by pretending to be something they weren't, from making music that just wasn't them to dressing in suits and ties. The albums would have got further and further apart, and worse and worse, and their reputation would have sunk lower and lower.

They just weren't writing good songs any more; I can't envisage anything that might have happened to miraculously change that. It's hard to think of a band with such a huge gulf in quality between their earlier and later albums. ITTOD is dreadful; Coda's dreadful (all you have to do is look at that cover to feel the utter lack of care or interest); four out of seven songs on Presence are dreadful. If they'd split right after PG in February 1975 we'd have lost very little. (And just think - nothing on PG was recorded later than February 1974. The best was over then). They just stopped writing good songs. I don't know why, but the drug abuse seems like the obvious culprit. I think sometimes it just damages something in the brain irreparably, and quitting doesn't bring it back.

They would have got worse, just grinding out more music for the sake of it, following what was going on in music instead of leading, becoming an irrelevance. And it seems more than likely that Jimmy would have died, or Bonham would have died later, maybe from heroin instead of alcohol. If not, they'd have turned into the Rolling Stones - creaking around the world being their own bloody tribute band. Gruesome. I'm truly sorry for the sake of Bonham and everyone who cared about him that he departed this life so horribly early and in such a horrible way - but I don't think for a second that we'd all be listening to the seventh or eighth (or fifteenth) great Zep album if he hadn't.

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There's an endless list of bands that have had a longer career than Led Zeppelin - The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, U2, Pearl Jam, Prince, Metallica, etc., etc., and none of them have been great throughout their duration - all have done quite a few projects that were less than stellar, that were bad!

Led Zeppelin were four incredible personalities & musicians - Bonham, Jones, Page, and Plant - but surrounding influences can influence, unfortunately.

I seen the stuff Jimmy Page put out, and who he played with throughout the 80's and into the 90's, and I was not impressed. The fact that he was close to the hairband shit makes me want to vomit! Plant and Jones never ventured into that lame shit. If John Bonham didn't die, and they stayed together, Page would have been influenced by the others and he never would have wandered into that terrible musical realm. Maybe Jimmy was immersed with that scene because of him being closer to Jason Bonham during that period - Jason was right in the middle of that crap, and he is close to many of the lame personalities that made that genre of music.

Edited by Amstel

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Hey my tongue was firmly in my cheek! I don't think they would really have done as I suggested, but a lot of other bands did(well some of it). However I don't think the 80's would have been kind to them. There is some great music from the 80's but wether it would have suited jimmy, JPJ, Robert and JB we'll never know. Be thankful for the 10 original lps that you have, HTWWW, BBC sessions, DVD and the hundreds of bootlegs available. I think they were a truly magic band.

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Hey my tongue was firmly in my cheek! I don't think they would really have done as I suggested, but a lot of other bands did(well some of it). However I don't think the 80's would have been kind to them. There is some great music from the 80's but wether it would have suited jimmy, JPJ, Robert and JB we'll never know. Be thankful for the 10 original lps that you have, HTWWW, BBC sessions, DVD and the hundreds of bootlegs available. I think they were a truly magic band.

Don't forget TSRTS!

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My honest opinion is I think there would have been a turn for the better if Bonzo didn't pass.I remember reading that Jimmy and Robert said that at the end of 1980, they were feeling refreshed and ready to start another tour. I just think that all around 1980 was more of a tired and laid back year for them to catch their breath (shows were shortened from 2 hours 45 minutes to around 1 hour and 45 minutes, the songs were all a lot shorter, less solos, etc.) and they were refreshed for a 1980-81 tour IMO. When they first announced their US 1980 tour, they announced two shows at Richfield Coliseum in late October, which shows that they were getting back on the rails on big arena shows, which is good news. And as for the electric drums with Bonzo, I read that before the tour he ordered a brand new Ludwig kit in his good ol' green sparkle sizes (26" kick, 14" tom, 16" and 18" floor toms), but this time in a black diamond finish like Gonzaga 68, but never received the kit. So that's my two cents on what I picture would happen if Bonzo had lived to play again.

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Any ideas where the story about Bonham ordering a new kit came from? I've read loads of books on Zeppelin (incl. two on Bonham) & can't remember seeing that anywhere...

Not that I doubt you.

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I think the future of Zeppelin was 50-50 even had Bonham not died. The “problems”at the time were:

  1. Health Issues. Drug and alcohol consumption had reached the levels where it was having a serious impact on the functionality of both the band members and its management. But, despite this, I think they would have gotten past it over time. Zeppelin weren’t the only band from that era that overindulged and came back.
  1. Robert Plant. He wanted to call it quits after the death of his son, and through cajoling and promises of shorter tours, agreed to continue. This led to ITTOD, the Knebworth shows, the European tour, and the planned biggest-ever North American tour of 1981. I agree that the death of Bonham meant there couldn’t be any more Zeppelin, but I also believe that it gave Robert the excuse he’d been seeking. He wanted to venture off and sail his own ship. I think the band might have been able to convince him to keep the band and do solo projects on the side, but as we have seen, Robert would likely have put the kibosh on Zeppelin, believing it would overshadow his solo work. I still think Robert carries some inner demons of his Zeppelin days, wrestling with the fame and money on one side, but the tragedy and the annoyance as an artist for the constant calls for Zep tunes when he plays.

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