|R.I.P. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper|
Bonham was born on 31 May 1948, in Redditch, Worcestershire, England, to Joan and Jack Bonham. He began learning to play at five, making a kit of containers and coffee tins, imitating his idols Max Roach, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. His mother gave him a snare drum when he was 10. He received his first drum kit from his father at 15, a Premier Percussion set. Bonham never took formal drum lessons, though as a teen he had advice from other Redditch drummers. Between 1962 and 1963, still at school, Bonham joined the Blue Star Trio, and Gerry Levene & the Avengers.
Bonham attended Lodge Farm Secondary Modern School, where his headmaster wrote in his report that "He will either end up a dustman or a millionaire." After leaving school in 1964, he worked for his father as an apprentice carpenter between drumming for local bands. In 1964, Bonham joined his first semi-professional band, Terry Webb and the Spiders, and met his future wife Pat Phillips around the same time. He played in other Birmingham bands such as The Nicky James Movement and The Senators, who made a single, "She's a Mod," in 1964. Bonham then took up drumming full-time. Two years later, he joined A Way of Life, but the band folded. Needing a regular income, he joined a blues group called Crawling King Snakes, whose lead singer was Robert Plant.
In 1967, A Way of Life asked Bonham to return to the group, and he agreed, while keeping in touch with Plant. Plant formed Band of Joy and chose Bonham as the drummer. The band recorded demos but no album. In 1968, American singer Tim Rose toured Britain and asked Band of Joy to open his concerts. When Rose returned months later, Bonham was invited by the singer to drum for Rose's band, which gave him a regular income.
After the break-up of The Yardbirds, guitarist Jimmy Page formed another band and recruited Plant, who in turn suggested Bonham. Page's choices for drummer included Procol Harum's B.J. Wilson, and session drummers Clem Cattini and Aynsley Dunbar. Ginger Baker was also rumoured to be on Page's list. However, on seeing Bonham drum for Tim Rose at a club in Hampstead, north London, in July 1968, Page and manager Peter Grant were convinced he was perfect for the project, first known as the New Yardbirds and later as Led Zeppelin. Bonham was reluctant. Plant sent eight telegrams to Bonham's pub, the "Three Men in a Boat", in Bloxwich, which were followed by 40 telegrams from Grant. Bonham was also receiving offers from Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe but he accepted Grant's offer. He recalled, "I decided I liked their music better than Cocker's or Farlowe's."
During Led Zeppelin's first tour of the United States in December 1968, Bonham became friends with Vanilla Fudge's drummer, Carmine Appice. Appice introduced him to Ludwig drums, which he then used for the rest of his career. Bonham used the longest and heaviest sticks, which he called "trees." His hard hitting was evident on many Led Zeppelin songs, including "Immigrant Song" (Led Zeppelin III), "When the Levee Breaks" (Led Zeppelin IV / ), "Kashmir" (Physical Graffiti), "The Ocean" (Houses of the Holy), and "Achilles Last Stand" (Presence). Page let Bonham use a double bass drum in an early demo of "Communication Breakdown" but scratched the track because of Bonham's "over-use" of it. The studio recording of "Misty Mountain Hop" captures his dynamics, similarly exhibited on "No Quarter". On cuts from later albums, Bonham handled funk and Latin-influenced drumming. Songs like "Royal Orleans" and "Fool in the Rain" are examples, respectively displaying a New Orleans shuffle and a samba.
His drum solo, first entitled "Pat's Delight," later "Moby Dick", often lasted 30 minutes. He used bare hands for different sounds. Bonham's sequence for the film The Song Remains the Same featured him in a drag race at Santa Pod Raceway to the sound of his solo, "Moby Dick". In Led Zeppelin tours after 1969, Bonham included congas, orchestral timpani and a symphonic gong. He is credited by the Dallas Times Herald with the first concert use of electronic timpani drum synthesisers during "Kashmir" in Dallas, Texas, in 1977.
In 1969 Bonham appeared on The Family Dogg's A Way of Life, with Page and Jones. Bonham also played for Screaming Lord Sutch on Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends in 1970. He played on Lulu's 1971 single "Everybody Clap (Lulu song)," written by Maurice Gibb and Billy Lawrie. In 1972, he played on a Maurice Gibb-produced album by Jimmy Stevens called Don't Freak Me Out in the UK and Paid My Dues in the US, credited as "Gemini" (his star sign). He drummed for his Birmingham friend, Roy Wood, on his 1979 album, On the Road Again, and on Wings' album Back to the Egg on the tracks "Rockestra Theme" and "So Glad to See You Here". He was also featured on Paul McCartney & Wings Beware my love demo version first recorded in 1976, it remained unreleased until 2014 with the release of the album Wings at the speed of sound boxset. Bonham was the best man of Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi at his wedding ceremony.
In 1974, Bonham appeared in the film Son of Dracula, playing drums in Count Downe's (Harry Nilsson) band. Bonham appeared in a drum line-up including Keith Moon and Ringo Starr on the soundtrack album.
On 24 September 1980, Bonham was picked up by Led Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray Studios for a tour of North America, to begin 17 October in Montreal, Canada – the band's first since 1977. During the journey, Bonham asked to stop for breakfast, where he drank four quadruple vodkas (16 shots, between 400–560 ml). He then continued to drink heavily after arriving at rehearsals. The band stopped rehearsing late in the evening and then retired to Page's house, the Old Mill House in Clewer, Windsor. After midnight on Thursday, 25 September, Bonham fell asleep; someone took him to bed and placed him on his side. Benji LeFevre, Led Zeppelin's tour manager, and John Paul Jones found him dead the next afternoon. Bonham was 32.
The inquest on 27 October 1980 showed that in 24 hours Bonham had drunk around 40 shots (1–1.4 litres) of 40% ABV vodka, after which he vomited and choked. The finding was accidental death. An autopsy found no other drugs in Bonham's body. Bonham's remains were cremated and his ashes interred on 12 October 1980, at Rushock parish church, Worcestershire.
The remaining members disbanded Led Zeppelin rather than replace him. They said in a press release on 4 December 1980: "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were." It was signed "Led Zeppelin".
Bonham had a younger brother, Mick Bonham (1950–2000), a disc jockey, author and photographer, and a younger sister, Deborah Bonham (born 1962), a singer-songwriter.
Bonham was married to Pat Phillips, and the couple had two children; Zoë Bonham (born 10 June 1975), a singer-songwriter who appears at Led Zeppelin conventions, and Jason Bonham (born 15 July 1966), a drummer who has played with UFO, Foreigner, and Bonham. He previously played in Black Country Communion with Glenn Hughes, Derek Sherinian, and Joe Bonamassa. They recorded an album called Black Country in 2010. On 10 December 2007, he played with Led Zeppelin on the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert, as well as their reunion at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary show on 15 May 1988. A 1970 film clip of four-year-old Jason playing drums appears in the Led Zeppelin film The Song Remains the Same. Zoë and Jason appeared at the induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 with the surviving members of Led Zeppelin.
Bonham collected antique sports cars and motorcycles, which he kept on his family's farm, The Old Hyde. He bought the Plough pub in nearby Shenstone, near Kidderminster, which was converted to allow him to drive his bikes or cars right behind the bar.
In 2007, Stylus magazine rated Bonham number 1 of 50 great rock drummers, as did Gigwise.com in 2008, and a Rolling Stone reader's poll where he "led the list by a significant margin" in 2011, and in 2016, the same magazine ranked him as the greatest drummer of all time in a list of 100 Greatest Drummers of all time. Bonham was ranked no. 1 on Classic Rock's 2005 list of 50 Greatest Drummers in Rock, and Modern Drummer describes him as "the greatest rock 'n' roll drummer in history." In September 2008, Bonham topped the Blabbermouth.net's list of "Rockers fans want brought back to life", ahead of Elvis Presley and Freddie Mercury. Rhythm magazine voted him the greatest drummer ever, topping a readers' poll to determine the "50 greatest drummers of all time" in October 2009. At the end of the BBC Two series I'm in a Rock 'n' Roll Band! on 5 June 2010, Bonham was named best drummer of all time.
Bonham has been described by AllMusic as one of the most important, well-known and influential drummers in rock. Adam Budofsky, managing editor of Modern Drummer, writes "If the king of rock 'n' roll was Elvis Presley, then the king of rock drumming was certainly John Bonham." According to the LA times, even after all these years, Bonham still ranks as the best drummer of all time, mentioning that "[his] beat still bangs like a mofo."
Rock drummers influenced by Bonham include Joey Kramer, Lee Kerslake, Tony Thompson, Dave Grohl, Tommy Lee, Peter Criss, Chad Smith, Dave Lombardo, Brad Wilk, Yoshiki, and Shinya. Phil Collins, who became a drummer for Robert Plant's solo career, told Plant he wanted to play with him because he "loved" Bonham's drumming.
Dave Grohl said:
John Bonham played the drums like someone who didn't know what was going to happen next—like he was teetering on the edge of a cliff. No one has come close to that since, and I don't think anybody ever will. I think he will forever be the greatest drummer of all time.
Chad Smith remarked:
To me, hands down, John Bonham was the best rock drummer ever. The style and the sound was so identifiable to one person. Any drum set that he would play, it sounded like him.
Other musicians also paid tribute. John Paul Jones said Bonham was a "bass player's dream". Page has also commented:
One of the marvellous things about John Bonham which made things very easy [for a producer] was the fact that he really knew how to tune his drums, and I tell you what, that was pretty rare in drummers in those days. He really knew how to make the instrument sing, and because of that, he could just get so much volume out of it by just playing with his wrists. It was just an astonishing technique that was sort of pretty holistic if you know what I mean.
"Bonzo: The Groove Remains the Same—A Night In Honor of John Henry Bonham" was produced by Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy in Los Angeles on 25 September 2010 – the 30th anniversary of his death. Notable drummers that appeared at the tribute included Steven Adler, Vinny Appice, Kenny Aronoff, Frankie Banali, Fred Coury, Jimmy D'Anda, James Kottak, Chris Slade, Chad Smith, Joe Travers, Simon Wright, and John's son, Jason Bonham. Carmine Appice performed via video.
Bonham initially used Premier drums, but in the late 1960s was introduced to Ludwig by Carmine Appice. Throughout the remainder of his career, Bonham endorsed Ludwig drums. At times, Bonham's kick drum pedal squeaked. Jimmy Page later commented:
The only real problem I can remember encountering was when we were putting the first boxed set together. There was an awfully squeaky bass drum pedal on "Since I've Been Loving You". It sounds louder and louder every time I hear it! [laughs]. That was something that was obviously sadly overlooked at the time.
In 2005, Ludwig reissued Bonham drum kits in several styles and, in 2007, stainless steel kits similar to those Bonham used on the last Led Zeppelin tours in the 1970s.
Bonham used Paiste cymbals, and he used Remo drumheads. His hardware was a mixture of Rogers and Ludwig, most notably the Ludwig Speed King pedal and Rogers Swiv-O-Matic series of hardware, and initially augmenting his kit in live performances with timbales and congas as well as the cowbell, he soon settled on his trademark timpani, gong and ching-ring mounted on his hi-hat stand as the percussion in his setup in addition to the aforementioned cowbell.
Bonham drum solos would often feature his playing floor toms and cymbals with his bare hands. He started using this technique as well as developing a finger-control style, influenced from hearing jazz recordings by drummer Joe Morello, during the early 1960s with his first band the Blue Star Trio.R.I.P. Bonzo 1948-1980.
Fernández was born in Santa Clara, Cuba and made three unsuccessful attempts at defecting before he was successful in 2008. He enrolled at Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa, Florida and was selected by the Marlins in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft. Fernández made his MLB debut with the Marlins on April 7, 2013. He was named to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game and won the National League (NL) Rookie of the Month Award in July and August. After the season, he won the NL Rookie of the Year Award and finished third in Cy Young Award balloting.
Fernández became the first pitcher in the modern era to win his first 17 career home decisions, as well as go 24–1 in his first 25 home decisions. He was considered to be one of the top pitchers in the MLB at the time of his death.Fernández was killed in a boating accident on September 25, 2016, in Miami Beach.
José Fernández grew up in Santa Clara, Cuba. There, he lived on the same street as, and was friends with, future Major League Baseball (MLB) shortstop Aledmys Díaz. They played for the same youth baseball team, and Díaz's father and uncle encouraged Fernández's mother to bring him to the ballpark. Fernández commented that had Díaz's uncle not been an influence early in his life, he would not have pursued a professional baseball career. As major leaguers, they faced each other for the first time professionally on July 28, 2016. In his first at-bat, Díaz hit a home run off Fernández.
Ramón Jiménez, Fernández's stepfather, defected from Cuba in 2005, settling in Tampa, Florida. Fernández attempted to defect unsuccessfully three times, with each failed defection attempt followed by a prison term. Fernandez, along with his mother and sister, defected in 2007. On that successful attempt, José's mother fell overboard when the boat hit turbulent waters, and José had to dive into the water to save his mother's life.
Knowing Orlando Chinea, a coach who had trained some of Cuba's top pitchers before he defected from Cuba, lived in the area, Jiménez had his son train with Chinea. He attended Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa, Florida. Playing on the high school baseball team, Fernández was part of the Florida Class 6A state champions in his sophomore and senior seasons. Before his senior year in 2011, the Florida High School Athletic Association ruled that Fernández was ineligible, as he entered the ninth grade while in Cuba in 2006 and had therefore exhausted his eligibility. The Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball (MLB) were prepared to sign Fernández as an international free agent to a $1.3 million signing bonus. Fernández won an appeal and was declared eligible for his senior year, ending Cincinnati's pursuit. As a senior, Fernández pitched to a 13–1 win–loss record with a 2.35 earned run average (ERA) and 134 strikeouts. He also threw two no-hitters.
The Florida Marlins selected Fernández in the first round, with the 14th overall selection, of the 2011 MLB draft. Fernández signed with the Marlins, receiving a $2 million signing bonus. After he signed with the Marlins, he was assigned to the Jamestown Jammers of the Class A-Short Season New York–Penn League.
Pitching for the Greensboro Grasshoppers of the Class A South Atlantic League (SAL) to start the 2012 season, Fernández threw the first six innings of a combined no-hitter. He was twice named the SAL pitcher of the week. Fernández was named to appear in the 2012 All-Star Futures Game. During the season, he was promoted to the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League. He finished the 2012 season with a 14–1 win-loss record, a 1.75 ERA, and 158 strikeouts in 134 innings pitched at Greensboro and Jupiter. He was named the Marlins' Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball America ranked Fernández as the Marlins' best prospect and the fifth best prospect in all of baseball. The Marlins invited Fernández to spring training but sent him to minor league camp before the season began. However, they chose to add Fernández to their 25-man Opening Day roster, due in part to injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Álvarez. Also, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria hoped that promoting Fernández would buy him goodwill with the fans, following a fire sale the previous offseason. He was planned to be limited to approximately 150 to 170 innings during the 2013 season in order to protect his development.
The Marlins scheduled his major league debut on April 7 against the New York Mets. In his MLB debut, Fernández pitched five innings, allowing one run on three hits with eight strikeouts. He became the seventh pitcher under the age of 21 to record at least eight strikeouts in his MLB debut since 1916. He impressed in his second start. Despite a rough outing against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 27, Rays' manager Joe Maddon took to Twitter soon after watching Fernández pitch, saying, "Jose Fernandez might be the best young pitcher I've ever seen, at that age. I believe he will go far."
On July 6, 2013, Fernández was selected to represent the Miami Marlins for the National League All Star team. He pitched a perfect 6th inning in the 2013 All-Star Game in which he struck out Dustin Pedroia, induced Miguel Cabrera to pop up for a flyout and struck Chris Davis out. With this performance, Fernández is one of only three pitchers in the history of the All-Star Game who struck out two batters prior to their 21st birthday for their All-Star debut, the other two being Dwight Gooden and Bob Feller.
Against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 28, Fernández recorded 13 strikeouts, earning the 3–2 victory. With Fernández's 14-strikeout performance against the Cleveland Indians on August 3, 2013, he became just the sixth pitcher since 2000 to strike out 13 or more batters in consecutive games. He established the Marlins' rookie record for most strikeouts in one game. On the heels of his performance in July 2013, Fernández was named the Rookie of the Month for the National League, leading all qualified rookie pitchers in the ERA category. He followed up his July month with a tremendous August, in which he compiled a 1.15 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched, which resulted him in receiving a consecutive Rookie of the Month for the month of August 2013.
Fernández's rookie season has been considered historic as his 4.2 Wins Above Replacement places him in the Top 10 player seasons among those under 21 years old since 1900. Fernández's Adjusted ERA+ of 174 on the season also places him in the Top 10 all-time for pitchers under the age of 21, and he is only the fourth pitcher to record this feat in the past 100 years. His strikeout rate is the highest in his league, pacing the National League at 9.81 strikeouts per nine innings.
On September 11, 2013, Fernández hit his first career home run off of Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor. After crossing home plate, Fernández was confronted by Brian McCann, which then led to a bench-clearing fracas.
At the time after his last start of his rookie season, Fernández was in the top 10 of many pitching statistics in the National League, including sixth in strikeouts (187), first in strikeouts per nine innings (9.75) and hits allowed per nine innings (5.759), second in ERA (2.19) and Adjusted ERA+ (176), and third in WAR (6.3). Fernández won the Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award and the Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award in the National League. He came in third place in the Cy Young Award voting behind Adam Wainwright and winner Clayton Kershaw.
Fernández started his sophomore campaign as the Opening Day starter for the Marlins, making him the youngest Opening Day starting pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1986. Fernández recorded nine strikeouts while walking none, and he joined Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, Walter Johnson, and Cy Young as the only pitchers to do so on Opening Day. On May 12, Fernández was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a right elbow sprain. An MRI revealed that the elbow had a torn ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow, which prematurely ended Fernández's 2014 season. He underwent Tommy John surgery on May 16. He made eight starts, going 4–2 with a 2.44 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 2014.
Fernández began the 2015 season on the 15-day disabled list but was later moved to the 60-day DL to continue recovery from Tommy John surgery. It was announced by the Marlins on June 15 that he would make his season debut on July 2. In his debut, Fernández recorded six strikeouts in six innings. He also hit a home run. Fernández returned to the disabled list in August with a biceps strain in his pitching arm. He returned to the mound in September and set a major league record for consecutive wins at home by a single pitcher with his seventeenth such win on the 25th of that month.
To aid his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Fernández cut back on the use of his fastball during spring training in 2016 and began working on his secondary pitches. Appearing as a pinch hitter in the 12th inning against the Atlanta Braves on July 1, Fernández doubled in two runs to put the Marlins ahead 7–5, which ended up being the final score. He became just the second pitcher in Marlins history to produce a game-winning hit, following Dennis Cook on August 1, 1997. Fernandez appeared in the 2016 MLB All-Star Game.
Fernández's last game was on September 20. He pitched eight shutout innings in a 1–0 win. He finished 2016 with a MLB-leading 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings, and a new Marlins' season record of 253 strikeouts, in 182 1⁄3 innings. He won 16 games, the best of his four-year career, while losing eight, with a 2.86 ERA. For his career he had a 2.58 ERA, a 38–17 win-loss record for a .691 percentage.
Fernández threw four pitches: a four-seam fastball that averaged 94–97 miles per hour (151–156 km/h) and touched 101 miles per hour (163 km/h), a slurve at 80–86 miles per hour (129–138 km/h), a changeup at 85–88 miles per hour (137–142 km/h), and a sinker at 88–94 miles per hour (142–151 km/h).
Fernández considered his grandmother, Olga, the "love of his life". After six years apart, Olga and José were reunited in Miami after the 2013 season. On April 24, 2015, Fernández received his US citizenship.
Fernández announced that his girlfriend, Carla Mendoza, was pregnant with their first child on September 20, 2016.