When FOREIGNER announced its 2018 summer tour, the opening act was listed as JASON BONHAM’S LED ZEPPELIN EVENING instead of JASON BONHAM’S LED ZEPPELIN EXPERIENCE, the name under which the drummer has been touring nearly a decade. As as result, many assumed that the tour press release and poster contained typos, but Bonham has since explained that his band has indeed adopted the EVENING moniker due to a request from the LED ZEPPELIN camp, who wanted to use the “Experience” name for an upcoming project involving the archive of ZEP live recordings.
“I got a letter from their attorney, who happens to be my attorney as well,” Bonham told Billboard in a new interview. “As I read the first few lines, I felt very upset. It was my wife who saved me from getting into a rage; I was about to group-dial Jimmy [Page], John Paul [Jones] and Robert [Plant] and go, ‘What the hell…!’ but she said, ‘Read the rest.’ And I saw it wasn’t personal. They wanted to free up the terminology. It was my wife who said, ‘Why don’t you call it ‘JASON BONHAM’S LED ZEPPELIN EVENING‘ — that way I could keep the logo the same. I said, ‘You’re a genius! That’s why I’ve been with you 30 years!'”
JASON BONHAM’S LED ZEPPELIN EXPERIENCE was formed in 2009 to pay tribute to Bonham‘s father, legendary LED ZEPPELIN drummer John Bonham, who died in 1980 at the age of 32. “It was meant to be part of my way of expressing my love for music and expressing myself with a tip of the hat to my father,” Jason told Mixdown in a 2017 interview. “Soon after doing the 28 shows that we did with an orchestra, everyone said, ‘You’re not going to stop now, are you? You haven’t been here, you haven’t played there…’ And so I said, ‘As long as you guys want me to do it, I’ll do it.’ It’s really fan-based. It’s not us and them; it’s about love for LED ZEPPELIN, and that’s how it’s grown, as a very honest, natural, fan-based show. You guys all knew him as Bonzo; I knew him as dad, and there’s a great interaction.”
Asked by NJArts.net if being the son of a music icon, especially one as influential as John Bonham, has ever affected him in any manner, Jason said: “Maybe in my late 20s, I was just like, ‘Enough already, I know, I know.’ You know, when you kind of want to be your own self, but then you realize that he is the most influential … every drummer I’ve ever asked, every drummer that I’ve ever read about, their Top 3 always has John Bonham in there. … that’s just phenomenal that he had that much influence on the drumming world.
“Somebody asked me the other day, ‘What do you love the most about the show?’ I said, ‘The conversations that I have with my father in my head while I’m playing.’ If I do something pretty good … I mean, I’m playing the gig and I’m saying in my head, ‘Hey, check that one out, dad.’ You didn’t do that one until ‘ZOSO’. And then I’ll have a moment where I’m watching him do something in my head and he’ll turn around and say, ‘You didn’t think of that one, did ya?’ ‘Yeah, you’re right, you’ve always been a master. What am I thinking?’
“I try and imagine what he’d be playing like now: That’s kind of where my head goes. I think of the very fundamental fills, the triplets, the iconic stuff that he used, but it’s trying to get his subtleties and his space and just that groove. That is way more my focus now than any fill. His pocket. I was listening to the ‘Song Remains The Same’ version of ‘Dazed And Confused’ and, oh my God, that is such an amazing version live. … I mean, the drum sound and just everything about it. All of the jam sessions within it, and then when they go into ‘If you’re going to San Francisco …,’ the drum groove that dad starts playing with the hi-hat, the hairs on my arm are standing up just talking about it.”
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