Led Zeppelin and the music world were dealt a devastating blow 40 years ago Friday — September 25th, 1980 — when drummer John Bonham died at the age of 32. He left behind his wife Pat and their two children, Jason and Zoe. Jason went on to play in his dad’s place four times — Atlantic Records’ 40th anniversary concert in 1988; his wedding in 1990; Zeppelin’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995; and the 2007 reunion concert in London.
“The hardest one to me to do correctly I find is ‘Rock and Roll’ because it’s two-handed shuffle all the way through and not many people who play ‘Rock and Roll’ do that. It’s the high-hat and the snare drum going [SFX], which is, ‘You keep on knocking but you can’t come in.’ Until the Knebworth video you suddenly see his left hand and how it’s playing all the way through that and you suddenly go, ‘That’s why it sounds different when you miss…’ [SFX] you know, when you’re doing the accent with him it makes a whole lot of difference.”
“No, no, he was a bass player’s dream really. Not only was he a drummer, he was a musician as well. The two can be sometimes different. Having said that you can say that about any instrument. But he really knew what he was doing and he listened and he had such feel and such a soul and we just worked really well together. Plus he was always funny and he was a very humorous man and very generous man. So he used to go crazy? So did we all. No he was really a joy on stage, he really was I just loved played with him.”
“We were optimistic. I knew it would have been interesting. It would have been musically interesting and it would have been nice to see us happy again. We were getting happy again. Because as I said, there were a few dark moments at the end of the ’70s.”
John Bonham’s last performance with Led Zeppelin was on July 7th, 1980 in Berlin, the final date of a European tour. The set list from that show included “Train Kept A-Rollin’,” “Black Dog,” “Hot Dog,” “Trampled Underfoot,” “Kashmir,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “Rock and Roll” and “Whole Lotta Love.”