Jason Bonham Talks About Led Zeppelin Reunion Rumors

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If the name "Jason Bonham" sounds familiar, it's because he is the son of John Bonham, former drummer of Led Zeppelin and one of the most renowned musicians in history.

The younger Bonham subbed in for his late father on drums during Led Zeppelin’s London reunion concert in 2007. Three years later, Bonham started the Led Zeppelin Experience, a cover band of the iconic group of musicians. 

So does Bonham have strict requirements for band mates? Not exactly. Only that band members must love the music as much as he does. “Because I don’t like to rehearse, if I say to them, ‘Let’s try so and so’ and if they say, ‘Oh, I don’t know that one’, that’s a real deal-breaker,” he emphasized. “Even if it’s not on the list, only because when I go into something, when I have to go and play with another artist, I don’t want to be that person that’s like, ‘I don’t know that song.’ I’ve always learned everything. I can’t read music.”

Bonham was taught by his father and not by sheet music. Growing up to classic artists such as Dr. John and Bad Company, Bonham would play songs his father put on the jukebox. “You need to learn how to groove before you play all the fancy stuff,” he says. “A lot of people these days want to know the chops before they learn the real fundamentals of how to play.”

The Delray resident, who has lived there longer than he lived in England, considers the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood to be his home venue and his favorite. “It brought me to tears - the first time we played it [Hard Rock], we sold it out, about three years ago,” he said. “My emotions took the best of me, because it was everybody from my friends, doctors, car dealers, dentists, and just everybody from my old neighborhood where I lived, they all bought tickets, and it was very, very, very, very, very, strange thing also to drive down the freeway and see a huge billboard with your picture on it. And because this is my kind of side project, this is something that started basically for love and fun... it just took off. This time we’re ending the tour there rather than starting it there, so I’m really pleased.”

Speaking of Delray, Bonham expressed his love for Abe & Louie's and hanging out on Atlantic Avenue. His son currently attends Lynn University, and his daughter lives nearby. Both children play a role on his outlook on sobriety. The musician, who is now 15 years sober, believes immensely in AA and even had a “very big, famous guitar player mentor” assist him in getting there. Reflecting, he said, “I always say, ‘Don’t think it’s not cool not to drink.’ I’m not saying to some people who haven’t got a problem, ‘Oh, nobody should have a drink.' I have two children: I have a 23-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son. It would be wrong of me to say, ‘I don’t ever want to see you drink.’ That’s not what it was about. For me, I went to a whole other place. When I started, I couldn’t stop, and when I couldn’t stop, I would then want drugs. If I took out the drink, I didn’t want the drugs. I was very lucky.

“It’s weird," he says. "My kids’ friends, when they came back from high school, would say, ‘Wow, I thought your dad would be a party animal’, and they’re like, ‘No, he’s not’ [laughs]…I used to be, but I’m not anymore.”

Understandably, Bonham's voice wavered slightly when speaking about his late father. “One of my favorite lines of all time is ['Thank You' by Led Zeppelin]: ‘If the sun refuses to shine, I would still be living/If mountains crumble to the sea, there would still be you and me,’ and that song 'Thank You' that Robert Plant wrote… it’s being grateful and thankful for the person that’s in your life, no matter what," Bonham said. "When we do that song live – I get emotional even talking about it – when I’m playing, I’m thinking of my dad, and I never got a chance to say, ‘Dad, I love you, and you are the greatest.' When I was a 14-year-old, and he was just dad and I didn’t get it... Whether they [parents] are musicians or not, or they pump gas or just clean cars, your parents, sometimes they might bug you and whatever, just tell them you love them, because you never know that day when you’ll never have the chance to say it.”

As for another Led Zeppelin reunion, don’t count on that anytime soon or reference the Rolling Stone article that may have started such expectations. “I’m having a 50th birthday party in England, and that was what I was referencing and that they were invited,” explained Bonham with a laugh. “They’ve played at my wedding; they’ve played at more private events before. People took that as a, ‘Oh, it’s going to happen,' but I was only thinking of my birthday party. I spoke to Rob [Plant] earlier a few weeks ago at the Okeechobee Music Festival, and we were laughing about that. He goes, ‘What did you mean by that?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m going to be 50 in July,' and he goes, ‘Oh, of course!’

Here’s to hoping for another reunion and that we get invited to your party, Jason.

Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience
Wednesday, June 8, at 8 p.m. at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Buy tickets at Ticketmaster.com

Natalya Jones is a food and music writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in entertainment and fun things to do in South Florida, follow her on Twitter.

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