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If Bonzo had lived and Led Zeppelin never called it quits


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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.

I forget where I first read that, it was on the forum here somewhere, but a long time ago. I remember being sketchy about it too and trying to do some research on it and there was a video on YouTube of this one guy that does these Bonham drum talks that mentioned it. I'll go try to find it right now.

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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.

I found the video I was referring to. The man talking in the video made contact in the mid 90's with a man named Bill Townshend who owend Bonzo's amber vistalite kit he won at an auction, and that's where he says that he got the information that Bonham ordered a new kit. I do have to make a correction though, it is a 24" bass Bonham wanted and that it was in black sparkle not black diamond pearl. Hope this helps.

skip to 37:10 to hear about the black sparkle kit
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Jimmy doodling on his guitar synthesizer..

wow, I kinda forgot about the guitar synth on "Fool in the Rain".

I think Zep would have weathered the '80's just like Aerosmith and ZZ Top did ... esp. in light of ITTOD - synth heavy.

Ya know, Heart weathered the '80's MUCH more tastefully. True to their roots.

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I think Zep would have weathered the '80's just like Aerosmith and ZZ Top did ... esp. in light of ITTOD - synth heavy.

Aerosmith and ZZ Top made garbage during that awful music period of the 80's.

Edited by Amstel
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If Bonzo and Jimmy had conquered their demons they might have had a couple good tours and albums left in them... We will never know. Now Robert is cast as a villain preventing anything further but a lot of things during his Zep time left scars... There was a time when Jimmy did not want to discuss the group much but that seems to be forgotten.. A good 5 years. I don't think Robert wanted a way out for $.... If that was what motivated him after losing his son and friend, I'd be very surprised. I am just happy They both are healthy enough. And JPJ too to be on the planet now. Some of the late 70's pix of Jimmy are scary... He looks great now and in control and yeah Live Aid would have not been "shambolic"

Edited by ksgemini
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I don't think Zep would have survived the 80's intact, but I think it's possible they could have produced another great album, and (in the mid-80's) set new stadium/tour attendance records.

I don't think they would have survived with the original lineup much longer than the 1980 tour. I think Plant would have bolted no matter what happened with Bonham. He wanted a solo career and the artistic control that comes with it. However, that's not to say the others couldn't have continued on without him. Of course, they would have needed to tackle their substance abuse problems AND get new management. Then they would have needed to hire a new lead singer. However, other bands have weathered major lineup changes and survived so who is to say Zep couldn't. They simply chose not to.

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I don't think they would have survived with the original lineup much longer than the 1980 tour. I think Plant would have bolted no matter what happened with Bonham. He wanted a solo career and the artistic control that comes with it. However, that's not to say the others couldn't have continued on without him. Of course, they would have needed to tackle their substance abuse problems AND get new management. Then they would have needed to hire a new lead singer. However, other bands have weathered major lineup changes and survived so who is to say Zep couldn't. They simply chose not to.

As Page has painfully learned, putting 34 years of his life into it, you simply cannot replace the voice, spokesman, and principal lyricist of Led Zeppelin.

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Naturally, I would have loved for Zeppelin to carry on and live forever, but sometimes I think that they ended at the right time, with the astounding ITTOD. I fear that Jimmy's addiction and self indulgence would have pushed Robert over the edge emotionally, and he would have moved on. Also, as much as I love JPJ's Scream For Help album, I am horrified by his willingness to accept the cheesiness of that era and incorporate it into his sound (drum machines, disco beats, extreme '80's keys). As an emerging force in the band, I think JPJ could have saved or derailed the Zeppelin musical identity, and if Scream For Help is any indication, well I worry that the 1980's could have been a tough time for the band in terms of their trademark sound. I also think that the interpersonal conflict would ultimately have done them in, as Plant was walking on egg shells at that point, and Jimmy was fully immersed in his addictions, and wasn't looking for a way out. And, let's not forget that Bonzo was at the end of his emotional rope, and didn't want to be away from his family anymore; he had extreme anxiety over this. To me, it looks like the magnificent Zeppelin had run their course, and were aligned for disbandment, no matter how you slice it.

Edited by The Dark Lord
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  • 2 weeks later...

Let's look at the Zep contemporaries that are still going today. The Who. Rolling Stones. Elton John. Rod Stewart.

Every one of them is nothing more than a nostalgia act. None have really made a decent album since the 70s. They are simply making enormous sums on the tours where the crowd usually takes a bathroom break during the occasional new song. Jimmy would not have a problem with this format, but JPJ and most-definitely Robert would not. Robert has often said that this traveling jukebox band is everything he's against.

As great as Zep was, they might have had another great album in them, but due to their age and health issues, they were done.

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Let's look at the Zep contemporaries that are still going today. The Who. Rolling Stones. Elton John. Rod Stewart.

Every one of them is nothing more than a nostalgia act. None have really made a decent album since the 70s. They are simply making enormous sums on the tours where the crowd usually takes a bathroom break during the occasional new song. Jimmy would not have a problem with this format, but JPJ and most-definitely Robert would not. Robert has often said that this traveling jukebox band is everything he's against.

As great as Zep was, they might have had another great album in them, but due to their age and health issues, they were done.

Unlike some fans I don't look down my nose at "nostalgia acts". No one disses elderly actors for making films or appearing on TV when they don't need the money. Or film directors for continuing to work into their seventies. If people are willing to pay to see aging rockers peform live, why shouldn't they tour? These concerts may not be everyone's cup of tea but I don't see anything inherently wrong with them.

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Let's look at the Zep contemporaries that are still going today. The Who. Rolling Stones. Elton John. Rod Stewart.

Every one of them is nothing more than a nostalgia act. None have really made a decent album since the 70s. They are simply making enormous sums on the tours where the crowd usually takes a bathroom break during the occasional new song. Jimmy would not have a problem with this format, but JPJ and most-definitely Robert would not. Robert has often said that this traveling jukebox band is everything he's against.

As great as Zep was, they might have had another great album in them, but due to their age and health issues, they were done.

I see where you're coming from, but I cannot see Jimmy not having a problem with this... This isn't Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes, which was a pretty loose, fun thing.. He was the Producer of Led Zeppelin. He would probably be pushing for new music at least as much as the other 2.

Edited by the chase
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Unlike some fans I don't look down my nose at "nostalgia acts". No one disses elderly actors for making films or appearing on TV when they don't need the money. Or film directors for continuing to work into their seventies. If people are willing to pay to see aging rockers peform live, why shouldn't they tour? These concerts may not be everyone's cup of tea but I don't see anything inherently wrong with them.

Hi there

I don't think film directors and actors working into their golden years really equates well with rock n roll nostalgia acts. Nobody went to see Lincoln and moaned that there weren't enough scenes from E.T or Jaws in it. I think some people (aerosmith, stones etc) no longer have that artistic hunger, realise their best work is behind them and feel they have nothing left to prove. The Stones were once pioneers at the vanguard and then sometime in the 70's the shepherds became the sheep and started following the scene rather that making it. Others like Scott Walker and Robert Plant still have the "quest",wanting to explore and experiment on their own terms feeling that maybe their greatest work is yet to come.

I have no problem with bands performing their hits from yesteryear and no problem with people wanting just that. However Robert might!

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  • 1 year later...

Another old thread I know, but a subject that rather intrigues me. Based on the working patterns of Plant and Page during the '80s, I reckon Zeppelin might have released albums in '82, '85 and '88, but then called it quits after that, while they were still young enough to really be Led Zeppelin (impressive 2007 reunion notwithstanding). A slightly heavier-sounding version of Robert's 'Big Log' is probably along the lines of how LZ would have sounded in the early part of the decade, while Whitesnake's 'Still Of The Night' might be how the late '80s incarnation would have sounded. The albums would have still been professionally crafted and popular enough with a large audience - say, 3-5 million sales per album in the U.S. and 10-12 million Worldwide - but nowhere near as publicly worshipped or critically acclaimed as their groundbreaking early '70s heyday, that's just the likely reality of the situation I'm afraid. 

Now in terms of concerts, there's no doubt that Zeppelin would have continued to command residence of vast stadiums in California and Texas, were it not for one thing: Robert Plant had basically vowed to never do that kind of tour again after the nightmares of '77. I reckon there's a good chance that as with The Beatles, Zeppelin would have become a studio band, with the proposed '81 tour of Britain and the States in smaller venues likely being their last ever (save for appearances at Live Aid and Atlantic's 40th). I don't think that would have harmed their reputation at all, since by that stage millions of people would want to hear from Led Zeppelin regardless of whether or not they toured, because that's who they were. And besides, considering the state of Jimmy Page during the mid '80s, staying away from the stage would probably have been a pretty good idea...

Edited by Azapro911
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If Bonzo had lived that particular day, either Bonzo or Jimmy would have met the same tragic end soon after. Unfortunate, but that's the spiral they were well caught up in. It didn't seem like either was willing to or even capable of getting off the ride in terms of the destructive excesses at that point. They simply had not hit rock bottom yet. Worse, they could still pull off ridiculously good performances - albeit a LOT less consistent.

To really ask this is to really say "imagine Bonzo and Jimmy were not so locked into the abuse" which has too many creative connotations. ITTOD - probably a completely different album. The band dynamic - possibly resulting in wholesale differences to what passed in the final years. So it's pretty hard to chart a possible alternate future. It was what it was. It ended because it had to. That's what they were.

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I think most agree that beyond the short tour (U.S) in 80' and some later dates  Plant would have stalled out any

further live or studio projects. Maybe he would start his solo career and tell the rest of the band they may work together

again. Plant had gone thru so many misfortunes and surely was fed up with worrying about getting a call in the

middle of the night or worse finding out that Jimmy or Bonzo had died. I don't understand the speculation, Plant

was gone, that's that.

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6 hours ago, Mithril46 said:

I think most agree that beyond the short tour (U.S) in 80' and some later dates  Plant would have stalled out any

further live or studio projects. Maybe he would start his solo career and tell the rest of the band they may work together

again. Plant had gone thru so many misfortunes and surely was fed up with worrying about getting a call in the

middle of the night or worse finding out that Jimmy or Bonzo had died. I don't understand the speculation, Plant

was gone, that's that.

Had Bonzo not (inadvertently) topped himself and the North American tour went ahead, I really don't think he would have returned home alive, he was drinking like a fish at that point... and that's before  he was separated from his family for an entire month, imagine what he would have been like on the road with all the temptations and opportunities at his disposal, Nuremberg was just a warning shot across the bows.  Page could very well have succumbed to his addiction, but he never did, so it's unlikely, but Bonzo was a loaded gun waiting to go off at any moment, and the band and their management should have recognized this, he simply should not have been forced to go on tour at that time, his physical and mental health were deteriorating rapidly, he was clearly having personal problems at home, and he should have been at home with his family dealing with them.  This tone-deaf attitude to Bonzo's condition ultimately cost them everything in the end, but I don't think the band would have lasted much longer anyway but who knows?  Peter Grant mentioned once in an interview with Dave Lewis that he had already verbally agreed with Ahmet Ertegun to renew the band's contract the following year (1981), but I'm not really sure Robert Plant would have been willing to sign a new long -term contract, he was pretty ambivalent at that late stage, and was one further bad experience away from quitting altogether, so I presume he would have left his options open as much as possible... guess we'll never know for sure though as Bonzo made that decision for all of them in the end.

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2 hours ago, The Old Hermit said:

Had Bonzo not (inadvertently) topped himself and the North American tour went ahead, I really don't think he would have returned home alive, he was drinking like a fish at that point... and that's before  he was separated from his family for an entire month, imagine what he would have been like on the road with all the temptations and opportunities at his disposal, Nuremberg was just a warning shot across the bows.  Page could very well have succumbed to his addiction, but he never did, so it's unlikely, but Bonzo was a loaded gun waiting to go off at any moment, and the band and their management should have recognized this, he simply should not have been forced to go on tour at that time, his physical and mental health were deteriorating rapidly, he was clearly having personal problems at home, and he should have been at home with his family dealing with them.  This tone-deaf attitude to Bonzo's condition ultimately cost them everything in the end, but I don't think the band would have lasted much longer anyway but who knows?  Peter Grant mentioned once in an interview with Dave Lewis that he had already verbally agreed with Ahmet Ertegun to renew the band's contract the following year (1981), but I'm not really sure Robert Plant would have been willing to sign a new long -term contract, he was pretty ambivalent at that late stage, and was one further bad experience away from quitting altogether, so I presume he would have left his options open as much as possible... guess we'll never know for sure though as Bonzo made that decision for all of them in the end.

Good post and I believed you nailed it here. Why on earth they decided to do the NA tour in 80' is really beyond mystery to me due to Bonzo's condition in particular. If Nuremburg was not a cry for help I don't know what was. I would even go as far as to speculate that Bonzo knew the possible outcome of his consumption but went ahead anyway due to his nerves over the upcoming tour.

What the hell were they thinking???

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Actually what some people don't know is that Page actually got worse at certain points after Zep's end , and at times

didn't leave his residence for weeks at a time. Hermit's post did nail the situation, and although Jimmy was obviously

reckless, the fact that he got thru the 77' tour with all the stage energy in most shows, musicians in the know know

that playing as long  as Zep did, regardless of how many drugs your'e taking, you will fall into some physical collapse

if you aren't in some decent physical shape. So as bad as Page looked, Bonzo was actually in much worse shape.

Absolutely, what the hell were they thinking ??? Page was diminished but Bonzo actually sounded like an average

drummer on some of those 80' Euro gigs. Bonzo, ordinary , oh, the horror !!!

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