Beast: John Bonham and the Rise of Led Zeppelin… by C. M. Kushins

The book has a forward by Dave Grohl. I liked the book, it keeps you interested and doesn’t slow up. It’s a look at seventies rock and roll and it will make you realize how much has changed now…not only in music but in the real world.

I’ve always thought Led Zeppelin had a dark cloud that followed them..reading this book reaffirms that feeling. I always admired John Bonham as a drummer. I think Moon and Bonham were the best drummers of the seventies and I would pick them as my top two favorites of all time. They both were different from each but had a feel like no other. They didn’t have the precision of Ginger Baker or Neil Peart but they changed their band’s sound completely.

The book goes over Bonham’s early influences like Gene Krupa. One of his first rock drummer influences was Keith Moon because of how Keith pushed the drums to the forefront. Bonham also liked Ginger Baker and would go see him in his band Air Force.

The author does focus on Bonham but you get a Led Zeppelin bio with it also. It’s a good book and I did learn a lot about him and the band that I didn’t know. Plant and Bonham were from the rural  Midlands, a major difference from London studio pros like Page and Jones. It was an interesting mix.

It seems like Plant and John Paul Jones were a little more down to earth as people and didn’t get caught up long-term with drink and hard drugs that Bonham and Page did. This also states what other books say…Bonham didn’t like being away from his family and was two different people on tour. He would be fine until liquor was added…then he would turn into The Beast.

One reporter describing Bonzo said: “Loathsome…Keith Moon with all of the dynamite and none of the charm.” There are many stories about him but not many are too humorous. He once drank two bottles of champagne on a flight…went to sleep in first class. When the stewardess served dinner, the other passengers begged her not to wake John up. When John woke up…he realized he urinated on himself and called for his drum tech Mick Hinton who was in coach…Hinton gave him some more pants and Bonham then instructed Hinton to take his wet seat in first class while Bonham went to coach in Hinton’s dry seat.

Peter Grant and the rest of the band sometimes got two rooms each in hotels. One as a decoy so Bonham couldn’t find them at 3 in the morning in a drunken rage. He did seem to be a good father and husband though but just didn’t like being away from his home.

One funny story happened when John took his son Jason to see The Police. Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers were really polite and excited to meet Bonham…Sting, being cocky and pretentious was very distant and cool.  Bonham accidentally  stepped on Sting’s foot and Sting said “Hey man, don’t step on my blue suede shoes.” Bonham looked at him and said “I’ll step on your fu**ing head in a minute.”

I would recommend this book to any Led Zeppelin fan. The author does go into his drum technique for any drummers out there and what size kits he used. We all know how this story ends but it shouldn’t have ended that way. In 1980 Led Zeppelin was mounting a comeback and was rehearsing for their first American tour since 1977. Bonham arrived at the first rehearsal and had been on a drinking binge.

Bonham died after drinking what amounted to 40 shots of Vodka in a 24-hour period.

John Paul Jones:  “Benje and I found him. It was like,  let’s go up and look at Bonzo, see how he is. We tried to wake him up… It was terrible. Then I had to tell the other two… I had to break the news to Jimmy and Robert. It made me feel very angry – at the waste of him… I can’t say he was in good shape, because he wasn’t. There were some good moments during the last rehearsals … but then he started on the vodka.” 

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

17 thoughts on “Beast: John Bonham and the Rise of Led Zeppelin… by C. M. Kushins”

  1. Poor drum tech. lol Yeah your right about a black cloud following them but what mystique and power they had in the 70s in regards to the music and the business end with the muscle known as Peter Grant

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    1. Oh yea….they cleaned up until Plant had that car wreck and then his son died…it all slowed down and then this happened.
      It’s a good book though…I would recommend it.

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  2. it took me awhile to appreciate his skill, but he was really good (maybe 15 years ago I remember highly offending a guy who was a total synth rock fan , when I suggested Bonham was only ordinary and got accolodates more for how loud the drums were in the mix – synthesizer guy had a cow! I still think the mix made a difference and Bonham wouldn’t have been so extra if he was mixed in like an average band’s drummer but he was very good I concede) . Interesting point about Plant and Jones being city boys and Bonham and Page rural ones… I wonder if that somehow played into their ability to withstand the temptations they had?

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    1. Well this says alot… Don Henley told Glyn Johns…”I want to sound like John Bonham” and Johns laughed…well you will have to hit the drums much harder than you are able to. Bonham used trees for drumsticks. He was a bricklayer in real life…so he wasn’t like Moon or Baker…they were smaller guys…plus he did have a soft touch also.
      Bonham sounds like he is always playing behind the beat….always…but when he drummed for Wings on a song….he sounded more normal.
      Moon would put everything he had in a hit…Bonham didn’t have to….but out of the two…of course I would take Moon. Moon was an orchestra by himself.

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  3. Some great people just can’t drink and be good people. I had a friend who was the perfect gent till he had three shots and it was suddenly and frighteningly Mister Hyde time. A total dick after three drinks.

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  4. Sounds like a good read. I think I may have mentioned this before: If I would ever learn the drums, I would try to figure out how to play “Stairway.” To me, the drums in this tune possibly is my all-time favorite rock drums part.

    It is so unfortunate what alcohol and other drugs can do to people. And how many folks they kill at a young age. John Bonham was 32 years old – man!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a sad tale…although he was famous and rich…it didn’t make him happy touring…and he was not a pleasant man to be around when he was drinking according to people around him.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That is one hell of drum solo. I get the goosebumps every time I hear this song it is so good. I have a feeling he was like that at home also… The book has a lot of juicy tidbits in it. I’m sure the stewardesses had something for the drum tech to sit on instead of Bonham’s pee 😦

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    1. The journalist describing him….pretty much fit everyone else’s description. Keith Moon without the charm or fun lol. It was a good book. I’m on another one about them now.

      My next book is called “Miss O’Dell” ….she was close to Ringo, George, Bob Dylan, and Mick Jagger so it should be good.

      Liked by 1 person

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