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When I met Jason Bonham


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I really hope everyone likes this story.

In June of 1999 I was 27 years old and I went to see The Jason Bonham Band in Peoria, IL at the Cefcu center stage, on the river front. Jason’s band had just released the Waiting for the Sun CD. When we first got there, I went over the beer concession stand. While I was standing in line, I noticed that Jason was standing in front of me getting 3 beers. After he ordered he walked over a few feet and began talking to some of his crew. After I got my beer, I walked over to him (he had already finished one beer) and said, welcome to Peoria, thanks for coming. He said thanks, I’m glad to be here. While talking to him I could feel a strong aura about him. I told him that I played the drums too and that I was a huge fan of his, and a huge Zeppelin fan. We talked and drank our beer for a few minutes until other fans came up to us, to meet him. I walked away, got a few more beers, found where my friend was and took a seat, waiting for the show. After about 15 minutes the show started.

I do not remember every song they played, but I remember most of them. They opened up with Rock and Roll then went into to the beginning of Bring it on home, then straight into Black Dog (kind of like zeppelin did in The Song Remains The Same movie). I don’t remember the exact order, but I remember they played The Song Remains The Same, Ten Years Gone, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Waiting for the Sun, Wait for You, Stairway (they didn’t use keyboards because a gust of wind caused water to fall from the canopy over the stage on the keyboards, right before the song and ruined them. So they used the bass guitar. Stairway was one of the last songs they played.), Communication Breakdown/The Girl I love/drum solo and back to Communication Breakdown.

During the show, I continued to pound beers and was having a great time. During the medley of Communication Breakdown, the singer said, you guys are really cool (the audience); you can come up on stage if you want to. I went up and stood right next to Jason’s floor toms. When he went into his solo, which was about two minutes long. He was doing crossovers leading with his left hand. He was so fast that I could not even see his hands, it was just a blur (plus I was drunk). It was only after he slowed down, that I could tell that he was leading with his left hand. For a brief moment when he stopped and before the band went back into Communication Breakdown, I asked him if I could get a stick from him. He said, the show is almost over, come up when we are done and I’ll give you one. At that time, the singer said okay everybody off of the stage; it’s been great, thanks. I returned to the audience and watched the rest of the show.

When the show was over, I waited about 5 minutes and walked up the side of the stage and Jason was waiting for me. I said that was a great show. He said thanks, have a seat (on the steps). He had a whole tray of beers, handed me one and said cheers. In the background, they had Sound Garden blasting through the P A system. I told him that Bonzo was by far my favorite drummer. I told him I thought he was the best, and just when you think you have him figured out, you realize that you don’t. We talked and continued drinking beer for about 30 to 40 minutes. I asked him why Page, Plant and Jones did not want to do a well-planned reunion tour. Jason reluctantly said, It’s Plant and there is more to it than anyone knows. Plant had a really hard time with the passing of Bonzo, he was irreplaceable as a drummer and great friend. He said if Plant changed his mind it would happen. I later found out that Jason had some serious alcohol issues. As far as alcohol, I probably was not helping the matter (as we continued to drink). Apparently, at that time in his life he drank like he was when I was there before a lot of shows. I was on vacation and was at a rock show so I was drinking!

We really didn’t talk about technique that much, we mainly talked about what it was like being the son of Bonzo and how good Zeppelin were live. During our conversation, he told me that he was going to be in a movie called The Rock Star. Which was later officially named Rock Star. The funny thing is, Zakk Wyle was in that movie and I briefly met him at the Infirmary (a bar) at a Black Label Society show in Peoria, IL in (October 1999) also. I Told Jason that I had read ‘’The Hammer of the Gods’’, “Stairway to Heaven”, and ‘’John Bonham a Thunder of Drums’’. Jason didn’t say much at first. Then he said, don’t believe everything you read about my dad, he was a great father. I said I don’t believe everything and I read those books with skepticism. He seemed relieved and said thank you. A Lot of people would think that it would be really cool to be Jason, but I could tell he had a lot of pressure on him as a drummer to live up to his father. I could also sense a deep loss and sadness to Jason since his lost his father at an early age (14).

I changed the subject and asked him to come over to my house, which was about 15 minutes away and have an after show jam. He laughed and said; no I have to be up at 7 am for a radio interview at a radio station in the quad cities (Davenport, IA). I asked him if I could get a stick from him. He looked at me right in the eyes with his right hand extended and said, as long as you promise me one thing. I asked what and he said, don’t ever quit playing, ever! I shook his hand and said Okay. He went over to his drum kit, grabbed a used stick and handed it to me. I still have that stick today and I still play as much as I can (2 to3 times a week). We then went our separate ways. This is one experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

When the DVD and CD of Celebration Day were released, I immediately ordered a set. I was really neat to see Jason fulfilling him dream performing with the rest of Led Zeppelin. I saw the performance of him playing with them at the Atlantic 40th anniversary and I think that Jason was way better in Celebration Day by far. He has matured as a sober person and can hold his own with the best drummers. God bless you Jason. Rock On!!!

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I met JB twice while living in Los Angeles (The Rock in Canoga Park and The Rainbow Room) He was very pleasant but also drunk both times. I also met Zoe a few times. Very nice girl. A friend of mine knew her well and she should him some home movies of her dad jamming with other rock stars of the 70's. I would of killed to see those.

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