Zeppelin Blues

Jason Bonham on the reunion that wasn't


In 2007, after the surviving members of Led Zeppelin teamed up with the late John Bonham’s son, Jason, on drums for a one-off London show, there was a chance the iconic band might have a future.

Not long after that concert, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones and Bonham began jamming together, writing material and openly talking about the idea of a full Led Zeppelin tour.

There was just one problem: Robert Plant wasn’t interested.

With the Led Zeppelin reunion tour seemingly a lost dream, Bonham has resumed a touring project to which he has devoted a considerable amount of time lately: Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.

While there are plenty of Led Zeppelin tribute bands making the rounds, Bonham says his show is different in a variety of ways. It’s the kind of tribute to John Bonham that only his son could do, as he shares memories with audiences of growing up with his famous father, shows rare video of his dad, and he and his band perform a selection of Led Zeppelin songs. John Bonham died in September 1980 when Jason was 14.

“You know, this is a man that would grow up to be ‘the Beast,’ the guy—’Bonzo’—the legendary guy that was one of the first to throw a TV set through a window,” Bonham says. “But realistically, he was my dad and just an everyday guy really. So within the context of the show I talk a little about him as a personal person, you know, as a guy that I knew, not so much as the guy that you know as ‘Bonzo,’ but as my father.”

Looking back on the writing sessions and rehearsals with Page and Jones, Bonham said he really thought something was going to come of the get-together, and he was disappointed when it didn’t come to fruition.

“I was very much under the illusion that we were going to write an album and we were going to put together a new project,” he said. “Whether it be under the banner of Led Zeppelin, which I doubted, but it was going to be a new project that would feature Jimmy and John Paul and myself. I believed it was eventually going to continue on, and be whatever it was going to be.”

As for rumors about Aerosmith’s Tyler coming on board as the singer? That idea was explored, says Bonham, and Tyler came to the rehearsal space to try singing with Page, Jones and Bonham.

“I remember him being brilliant,” Bonham said of Tyler. “I was playing and then he got on the keyboard and played a bit of ‘Dream On’ and, you know, I enjoyed it immensely.”

Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience plays Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Uptown Theatre. 1350 Third St., Napa. 8pm. $50–$155. 707.259.0123.