Over the hills and far away (the Led Zeppelin side) | home
john bonham (the drummer)
Born John Henry Bonham on May 31st, 1948, at Redditch, Worcestershire. It seems John Bonham was destined to be a drummer almost from birth. In his very early youth, he used to beat on his mum's pots and pans. Then he adapted bath salt containers and coffee tins with wire attachments before being given a proper snare drum when he was 10. By the time he was given his first full drum kit, when he was 15 1/2, he had already decided where his future lay.
"When I left school I went into the trade with my Dad. He had a building business and I used to like it. But drumming was the only thing I was any good at, and I stuck at that for three or four years. If things got bad I could always go back to building.
I was so keen to play when I left school, I'd have played for nothing. In fact I did for a long time, but my parents stuck by me."
Someone else who stuck by him in his ambitions was his wife Pat, whom he met at a dance and married at the tender age of 17. The couple lived in a small caravan, and at one point things were so bad that Bonham had to give up smoking to pay the rent.
On the bright side, his work with local bands around the Birmingham area, like Terry and The Spiders and A Way Of Life, was getting him something of a reputation. It also got him banned by several club managers, who felt his playing was too violent for the delicate ears of their customers.
For a short while Bonham played with The Crawling King Snakes who had a singer by the name of Robert Plant, and after spells with The Nicky James Movement and Steve Brett & The Mavericks, the two met up again in The Band Of Joy.
This venture lasted about a couple of years until 1968, during which time the group released three singles, went through several changes of musical direction, and toured the country supporting American singer-songwriter Tim Rose. Robert Plant recalls: "Eventually we were getting between 60 and 75 quid a night. But it didn't keep improving. In the end I just had to give it up. I thought "Bollocks; nobody at all wants to know about us"."
When The Band Of Joy broke up, Bonham accepted an offer to join Tim Rose's backing group for another British tour, and for the first time in his career he was earning regular money... albeit only 40 pounds a week.
By now his fame in musicians circles was such that he was being sought by Chris Farlowe and Joe Cocker, both fairly tempting positions at the time, when Robert Plant crossed his path yet again, with a proposition that was to increase his standard of living even more dramatically.