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September 24,1980, John Bonham was attending a rehearsal session for an upcoming US tour, with the other members of the world famous rock band Led Zeppelin. Being no strangers to the rock and roll lifestyle, Bonham had reportedly spent most of the day drinking, and drinking heavily. When rehearsal was called that evening Bonham and the other member of the band retreated to Jimmy Pages house in Clewer, Windsor. It was also reported that John had consumed roughly 40 shots of vodka, had passed out and was put to bed, being placed on his side. When Manager Benji LeFevre, and fellow band mate John Paul Jones went into where Bonham was sleeping the following afternoon, they had discovered that their friend and drummer was dead. It was later determined that he had died from vomiting and subsequent aspiration (inhaling) of his vomit, causing asphyxiation.
John Bonham not only left behind millions of music lovers and fans, his band mates that would not continue Led Zeppelin without him, and most importantly his family, wife Patricia Bonham, daughter Zoe Bonham, and 14 year old son Jason Bonham. It was in that instance that the fate of Led Zeppelin was determined, and would forever be known as the ending point of one of the biggest bands to ever be formed. The US tour they were working so hard to make happen, would never take place.
It was the 30 year anniversary of that fateful day that John Bonham’s biggest and greatest fan embarked on a tribute that would make every man that shares the title of “DAD” proud to see what Jason Bonham has put together in honor of his father.
The Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience, hit venues last October. This past Friday night, May 20, 2011, the tour finally made its way though Denver with a stop at the Ogden Theatre. It was here in Denver, that Led Zeppelin made its US live Debut on 12/26/1968, at the Denver Auditorium Arena, forever placing Denver as a part of the vast history of Led Zeppelin. It is with the addition of the Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience that will once again place Denver back into the rich history of Zeppelins rock n roll text book, as this monumental tour continues, an extension of that last planned US tour by the original members that never took place due to the untimely death of Jason’s father, John Bonham.
As Jason took the stage at the start of the show, a video played for the crowd to welcome them to the event making it clear that the evening was about what Led Zeppelin had meant to him. As the show went on the emotion and heart that he had put into the project made you feel as if Jason had waited his entire life to be on this tour, and this was not only his moment to celebrate the life of his father and what he had brought to the world, but perform with him as well.
The Lineup for the tour includes Jason Bonham on Drums, James Dylan on Vocals, Tony Catania on Guitar, Stephen Leblanc on Keys, and Dorian Heartsong on base. The band played most of the great iconic songs from the Led Zeppelin catalog, Jason had told the crowd that the song selection was not easy considering the vast amount of songs that there are to choose from, and coming up with which ones to play and which ones to cut is rather difficult because there are so many.
The bands performance was flawless, note for note was the standard for presenting the songs to the audience, along with a strong visual performance with exceptional lighting, a huge video screen that showed old footage of both performances and home movies and photos never before seen. Guitarist Tony Catania not only played Jimi Pages part well on guitar, a times his movements also seemed to resemble the way that you see Page move in old concert footage. The vocals of James Dylan stood out as his own, fitting very well into the shoes of Robert Plant without being a carbon copy. It was one moment of the show that through modern technology we where able to see a small void in Jason’s life filled for just a moment as he was able to play Moby Dick in sync with his father to the concert footage for the movie “The Song Remains the Same”. As Jason introduced the song he told the story of how having only a single drum set at the house had inhibited him playing with his father, an opportunity that had gone unfulfilled in Jason’s life up until being able to play with him every night on this tour.
For most of Led Zeppelin fans this night was the closest that we will ever get to the magic of a live Led Zeppelin performance, it was in this brief time that the magic was relived and the spirit of John Bonham was clearly present and alive 30 years after his passing. With the tour moving on west to California only 6 dates remaining on this leg of the tour, it is unclear if other shows will be added as the 31st anniversary approaches at the end of the summer. We leave you with these photos of the show. For the complete feel of the show watch the video of the band performing on the side panel until June 4th.
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