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.
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
“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
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.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.