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The Beat Goes On: Jason Bonham Is A Chip Off The Old Led Zeppelin


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THE BEAT GOES ON - JASON BONHAM IS A CHIP OFF THE OLD LED ZEPPELIN

Chicago Tribune - January 18, 1990

Author: David Silverman, Entertainment writer.

The clock radio went off one morning and I woke up to Jason Bonham screaming in our ears. Locked in a studio with WLUP`s morning deity, Jonathon Brandmeier, Bohnam was pounding a snare and wailing at the top of his lungs- completely out of control.

Two hours later he was slumped in a seat in The Tribune`s lobby, pondering the crushed ice at the bottom of a Styrofoam cup and looking exhausted, like he`d just been tossed from a moving train: mottled hair, rumpled shirt and dazed expression.

``I left Moscow yesterday,`` he grumbled. ``Where the hell am I? Here, have a watch.`` Reaching into the pocket of his bomber jacket, he produced what looked to be an $8 plastic timepiece and tosses it at a reporter. ``It`s a promotional device to make you friendly,`` he said in a mocking tone. ``Now your supposed to love the album, write good things and not ask me any questions about my dad.``

The last topic was the first on anyone`s mind. Set aside the fact that Bonham had just returned from the Moscow Music Peace Festival and that his group`s debut album, ``The Disregard of Timekeeping,`` had just been released. This is the son of one of the greatest rock drummers ever, Led Zeppelin`s John Bonham. ``When I was 4, he gave me a little Ludwig drum kit,`` Bonham said, bringing up the forbidden subject before a question could be asked. ``But it wasn`t like he was charting the future. If he`d been an accountant he might have given me a calculator, or crayons if he was an artist. ``What I did with them was my own business. He encouraged that.``

What Bonham did was to follow in his father`s footsteps.

Now, pounding out the rhythm for his own group, Bonham, the 23-year-old drummer has earned the endorsement of his father`s former bandmates, record company and, most importantly, the audience that made Led Zeppelin the first hard-rock godheads. ``I think the people turned on to us originally because of the name,`` Bonham said unabashedly. ``There`s really nothing wrong with that. What was I supposed to do, change it to Reagan? ``There`s even an element of Zeppelin in our music,`` he continued, echoing early reviews of ``The Disregard of Timekeeping.``

``But if you consider that most every group from heavy metal to the Beastie Boys in the last 10 years has stolen what my dad did, I don`t feel so bad. He taught me. It`s the music I heard in the house all the time when I was growing up. I`ve got the birthright.``

Bonham might carry the birthright, but he also carries the burden. When his father died in his sleep after a drinking binge in 1980, it came as no surprise to most. Hard rock and hard living had been synonymous with Led Zeppelin.

Almost a decade later, the son is seeking to divorce the image from the music. Through his involvement with David Lewis and the Make a Difference Foundation, sponsors of the Moscow festival, Bonham spends part of his time preaching substance responsibility. ``Alcohol killed my father,`` Bonham said. ``He went out and got drunk, came home and choked on his vomit in his sleep. There`s no escaping that and I`ve never tried to hide from it.

``We`re not saying don`t drink. What we`re saying is know what you`re getting into. Know your limits and don`t exceed them. It`s pretty simple and pretty safe. I`m taking advantage of music to help spread that.``

Bonham`s move toward music and away from his first love, motorcross racing (he was second in the British 15-and-unders for two years) came in 1988, at Atlantic Records` 40th anniversary party. Bonham, joining Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant, performed together for the first time since the band was dissolved. Bonham was recording with Page at the time, laying tracks for the ``Outrider`` album, and the Atlantic brass was impressed enough to offer him his own deal.

After the Atlantic reunion, Bonham kept a hectic schedule, working with Page during the week then heading to rehearse with the newly recruited members of Bonham-guitarist Ian Hatton, bassist Jim Smithson and vocalist Danny McMaster. After appearing on tour with Page, Bonham the band became the sole focus and the future.

``It was a fantastic break for me, to play with Jimmy and Robert,`` Bonham said. ``It gave me the chance to get my face out there for the little kids to see that the music can live on. But they`ve also got to know that it`s Jason Bonham out there, not just John Bonham`s son.``

Bonham opens Friday for the Cult at the Aragon Ballroom.

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THE BEAT GOES ON - JASON BONHAM IS A CHIP OFF THE OLD LED ZEPPELIN

Chicago Tribune - January 18, 1990

Author: David Silverman, Entertainment writer.

The clock radio went off one morning and I woke up to Jason Bonham screaming in our ears. Locked in a studio with WLUP`s morning deity, Jonathon Brandmeier, Bohnam was pounding a snare and wailing at the top of his lungs- completely out of control.

Two hours later he was slumped in a seat in The Tribune`s lobby, pondering the crushed ice at the bottom of a Styrofoam cup and looking exhausted, like he`d just been tossed from a moving train: mottled hair, rumpled shirt and dazed expression.

``I left Moscow yesterday,`` he grumbled. ``Where the hell am I? Here, have a watch.`` Reaching into the pocket of his bomber jacket, he produced what looked to be an $8 plastic timepiece and tosses it at a reporter. ``It`s a promotional device to make you friendly,`` he said in a mocking tone. ``Now your supposed to love the album, write good things and not ask me any questions about my dad.``

The last topic was the first on anyone`s mind. Set aside the fact that Bonham had just returned from the Moscow Music Peace Festival and that his group`s debut album, ``The Disregard of Timekeeping,`` had just been released. This is the son of one of the greatest rock drummers ever, Led Zeppelin`s John Bonham. ``When I was 4, he gave me a little Ludwig drum kit,`` Bonham said, bringing up the forbidden subject before a question could be asked. ``But it wasn`t like he was charting the future. If he`d been an accountant he might have given me a calculator, or crayons if he was an artist. ``What I did with them was my own business. He encouraged that.``

What Bonham did was to follow in his father`s footsteps.

Now, pounding out the rhythm for his own group, Bonham, the 23-year-old drummer has earned the endorsement of his father`s former bandmates, record company and, most importantly, the audience that made Led Zeppelin the first hard-rock godheads. ``I think the people turned on to us originally because of the name,`` Bonham said unabashedly. ``There`s really nothing wrong with that. What was I supposed to do, change it to Reagan? ``There`s even an element of Zeppelin in our music,`` he continued, echoing early reviews of ``The Disregard of Timekeeping.``

``But if you consider that most every group from heavy metal to the Beastie Boys in the last 10 years has stolen what my dad did, I don`t feel so bad. He taught me. It`s the music I heard in the house all the time when I was growing up. I`ve got the birthright.``

Bonham might carry the birthright, but he also carries the burden. When his father died in his sleep after a drinking binge in 1980, it came as no surprise to most. Hard rock and hard living had been synonymous with Led Zeppelin.

Almost a decade later, the son is seeking to divorce the image from the music. Through his involvement with David Lewis and the Make a Difference Foundation, sponsors of the Moscow festival, Bonham spends part of his time preaching substance responsibility. ``Alcohol killed my father,`` Bonham said. ``He went out and got drunk, came home and choked on his vomit in his sleep. There`s no escaping that and I`ve never tried to hide from it.

``We`re not saying don`t drink. What we`re saying is know what you`re getting into. Know your limits and don`t exceed them. It`s pretty simple and pretty safe. I`m taking advantage of music to help spread that.`` Bonham`s move toward music and away from his first love, motorcross racing (he was second in the British 15-and-unders for two years) came in 1988, at Atlantic Records` 40th anniversary party. Bonham, joining Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Robert Plant, performed together for the first time since the band was dissolved. Bonham was recording with Page at the time, laying tracks for the ``Outrider`` album, and the Atlantic brass was impressed enough to offer him his own deal.

After the Atlantic reunion, Bonham kept a hectic schedule, working with Page during the week then heading to rehearse with the newly recruited members of Bonham-guitarist Ian Hatton, bassist Jim Smithson and vocalist Danny McMaster. After appearing on tour with Page, Bonham the band became the sole focus and the future.

``It was a fantastic break for me, to play with Jimmy and Robert,`` Bonham said. ``It gave me the chance to get my face out there for the little kids to see that the music can live on. But they`ve also got to know that it`s Jason Bonham out there, not just John Bonham`s son.``

Bonham opens Friday for the Cult at the Aragon Ballroom.

Thanks for posting this. It's interesting to note that Jason did succumb to the demon drink, he has stated that...in his mind...he was trying to emulate his dad. When it got to the point when it was effecting his family he entered Rehab and quit. I believe he has been clean and sober for 7 years.

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In Summer 1992 Jason was stopped in an early morning speed check on Sutton Park Road and cited for driving while intoxicated (twice the legal limit). The Kidderminster magistrates banned Jason from driving for three years and fined him 300 pounds for a second conviction of intoxicated driving in 6 years. Ultimately he prevailed over alcohol and is indeed clean and sober.

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An article on the event in Moscow which Jason attended and performed at:

ROCK-N-RUSSIA - WHEN JON BON JOVI`S BAND LIT UP LENIN STADIUM, THE

SINGER KEPT - A DIARY - HERE ARE EXCERPTS

Chicago Tribune - January 31, 1990

Author: Jon Bon Jovi , North America Syndicate.

Day 1:

As I arrive at Newark Airport (last August), I spot Doc McGhee, a Mel

Gibson look-alike, and together we make our way to the gate. Half the

bands seem to be jet-lagged already, but the excitement and the

anticipation are great. Ozzy Osbourne flew in from California and has

been waiting for three hours. His guitarist, Zakk Wylde, is talking

with Snake Sabo, the guitarist in Skid Row, which has been opening for

BonJovi on our 1989 tour. Motley Crue and Cinderella also arrive, as

well as Gorky Park, a Soviet band Richie Sambora and I have recorded

with. We all assemble for a press conference, the first of many.

Afterward, we attempt to board the Magic Bus-a chartered 757, complete

with a Peter Max painted on the side. But we`re told

that there`s a problem, and that we have to wait. The problem turns

out to be a bomb scare! They pull luggage off the plane and dogs are

brought in to sniff out explosives. Never a dull moment!

We finally board the plane at 9:30 p.m., an hour behind schedule. On

board every one is excited, talking and joking and comparing junk

food. When we were in Moscow last November to do press and introduce

ourselves to the public, we discovered that food there is not like

we`re used to. Russian food includes dried meats and very, very salty

cheeses. Even the water is very salty. So this time everyone`s come

prepared. We`ve brought stuff like Tasty Kakes, M&M`s, Oreos and

Twinkies. In the back of the plane, I jam with Tommy Keifer

(Cinderella`s lead singer), Richie Sambora (the guitarist in BonJovi )

and Jason Bonham (the drummer in Bonham). We play some Rolling Stones,

Beatles, Eagles and Sam Cooke tunes on acoustic guitars. Six hours

later, when we land in London, the Scorpions board the plane, and

we`re off to Moscow.

A pressing assault on Day 2

On descent into Moscow, the captain invites me to sit in the cockpit

for the landing. I feel like Captain Kirk landing in some strange new

world. As the doors open, I lead our entourage onto the runway, where

we are greeted by about 200 photographers and press people. What a

greeting! We board several buses, bypassing immigration and customs.

This is only done for official delegations and heads of state-at least

we`re in good company.

We head for the hotel. The Ukrainia is, for Russia, a four-star hotel.

In America, it would be a no-star motel. But it`s a bed, or so they

tell me, and I`m about to fade. I`m one of the lucky ones: My room has

hot water, a shower curtain and only a handful of friendly

cockroaches. But the dent in my mattress would probably be considered

a pothole in New York City.

Another of the many firsts taking place here for the festival is a

makeshift Hard Rock Cafe set up in Gorky Park, complete with hot dogs,

hamburgers and Hard Rock T-shirts that have been flown in. I`m so

tired, this looks like Milwaukee to me. Everyone is starving and

exhausted. We grab some burgers and pig sandwiches and eat them

standing up.

MTV on Day 3

I wake up this morning and understand why the Russians have such a

great weightlifting team: My pillow must weigh 110 pounds. The weather

is cold and rainy. I turn on my TV, searching for MTV, and lo and

behold, they have it: Military TV! Six of the seven channels have the

same news program, and the seventh is a test pattern.

The day is filled with interviews, but finally, around 7 p.m., I get

some dinner at the stadium, which is our base. It`s my first real meal

of the day, served up by an English caterer we use when we`re in

Europe. After dinner, I join Doc McGhee as he tries to negotiate a

merchandising agreement with some Russian-a little slice of capitalism

in downtown Moscow. Around 11 p.m., I

head back to the hotel to get some sleep. I have to get up at 5:30

a.m. tomorrow for more interviews.

Incognito on Day 4

We go to Lenin Stadium for a radio broacast back to America, and I

decide to check out the stage. This is the first rock concert ever

staged at Lenin Stadium, and when I see the fully constructed stage, a

funny thought comes to me: I`m in ``The Wizard of Oz.`` Everything

outside the stadium is gray, not even black and white-but starting at

the entrance tunnel, bang! we aren`t in Kansas anymore. The colors of

the Peter Max scrim onstage and the green of the perfectly manicured

grass knock me out! A big surprise comes when Stas Namin, the Soviet

promoter who played a major part in organizing the festival, presents

us with the first Soviet copies of ``New Jersey,`` our latest album.

He also tells us that New Jersey is the first American rock `n` roll

album to be released on the official state-owned label, Melodiya.

After lunch, we head toward Arbat Street, one of the few shopping

areas in Moscow. The street is also known for its outdoor performers,

so Richie and I grab our acoustic guitars and head out to play. For

the most part, no one really recognizes who we are, but we gather a

pretty good crowd and even make 15 rubles-about $30. Richie and I

split the money right down the middle.

Rock lives on Day 5

I go to see the festival`s opening ceremonies at 1 p.m. and after some

short speeches, the most amazing thing I`ve ever seen happens. The

Olympic torch is relit for the first time since the 1980 Games-in the

name of rock `n` roll. It blows my mind to realize that we, as

musicians, did what politicians couldn`t or wouldn`t do. Finally, it`s

BonJovi `s turn to take the stage. As the band hammers out ``Lay Your

Hands on Me,`` I do my best Rocky Balboa/General MacArthur

impersonation on the way to the stage-complete with Soviet Army coat

and cap- right down the center of those soldiers and 75,000 Soviet

fans. From that angle I can see smiling faces, people trying to reach

at me over the soldiers and the torch burning brightly over their

heads. It`s a moment and a feeling I will never forget.

Serious partyin` on Day 6

I arrive for the second show, in time to see Motley Crue. The place is

on fire-not literally, but almost. It rains on and off, and it`s a

little cooler than yesterday, but the bands are more comfortable

onstage, and the sound is much better. The band and I hit the stage

in full stride, knowing that tonight`s show will go out via satellite

to millions of people around the world. As I`m

walking through the crowd in a Soviet coat, I can see my band onstage

and feel the electricity of the audience. I spot a girl sitting on top

of a guy`s shoulders waving the largest American flag I`ve ever seen.

It`s been a hell of a day. After the show, the mayor of Moscow has a

party for the bands. There is much toasting, of course, plus Soviet

food and dancing. Even Jack Matlock Jr., the U.S. Ambassador, shows

up, and the Soviet heads of their Peace Committee all ask for

autographs and pictures. By 4:30 a.m., everyone starts heading back to

the hotel to pack and get some sleep. Our return flight leaves at 10

a.m.

He`s outta there on Day 7

When we finally arrive at the airport, we drive right onto the tarmac

and board our plane, once again bypassing customs. With a proud hug, a

kiss (a Soviet tradition) and a ``high five`` ( BonJovi tradition) to

Stas Namin, we head home. Sitting on the plane, I can`t help thinking

that we really may have made a difference-not as the first rock

concert in Lenin Stadium or the first ever American rock record

released on Melodiya, but in contributing to the way Soviets are

opening up to the West.

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