In the realm of rock music, there are few legacies as formidable as that of Jason Bonham, the son of one of the most revered drummers in history, John Bonham. Jason, a drummer extraordinaire in his own right, has established himself as a consistently reliable force in the world of music. Recently, he took a trip down memory lane in an interview with Danny Wimmer, reflecting on his momentous experience playing with some of rock’s greatest musicians during the triumphant 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion. In this candid discussion, he unveiled invaluable lessons and insights learned from sharing the stage with legendary bassists.
As Jason recounted his time playing with iconic musicians such as John Paul Jones, Michael Anthony, and Tony Franklin, he revealed the profound impact it had on his approach to music. One of the most significant lessons he gained from these luminaries was the art of letting go and immersing himself in the present moment. Jason learned to silence the noise of overthinking and concentrate solely on the magic unfolding on stage. With seasoned virtuosos by his side, he found the freedom to focus on his fellow band members, especially the guitar player, Jimmy Page. He recognized that a key element of Led Zeppelin’s magic lay in their synchronicity, with each member attuned to the others’ nuances, resulting in breathtaking musical chemistry.
Jason stated: “I’ve been fortunate to play with John Paul Jones, Michael Anthony, Tony Franklin…The great thing about when you play with a guy like that is that you stop thinking about it. It means you can actually now focus on what the guitar player is doing. And when you listen to Led Zeppelin live stuff, John’s watching my dad, my dad’s watching Jimmy. Because when he wants it up, [or] to bring it back down.”
According to UG – In the realm of Led Zeppelin’s live performances, Jason’s father, John Bonham, was the rhythmic anchor, keeping a keen eye on the bassist, while the bassist, in turn, observed the guitarist. This interplay of connection and communication elevated their performances to astonishing heights. The rhythm section became the heartbeat of the band, masterfully crafting moments of crescendo and subtlety, taking the audience on an unforgettable journey of sound and emotion. Jason understood that such dynamics were the essence of music – the ability to build towering soundscapes and, in an instant, descend into an intimate whisper, captivating audiences with every fluctuation.
The experience of playing alongside these seasoned rock veterans helped Jason to overcome the trepidation of sharing the stage with giants. He discovered that the bass, often underrated, played a pivotal role in shaping the band’s sound and energy. This revelation brought a newfound appreciation for the bass as an instrument capable of profound impact and expression.
He continued: “It’s all about that. Having that light and shade, and having the dynamics to make it big when it needs to be big, and to [be able to] hear a pin drop when you do it. So once you get comfortable with the guy, it is the best feeling in the world, because you stop worrying about it. The bass is very underrated instrument sometimes.”
Reflecting on the momentous Led Zeppelin reunion, Jason candidly admitted that, at one point, he never thought it would materialize. However, life had a way of surprising him, and when the call finally came, he was prepared to embrace the opportunity with open arms. The six weeks of rehearsal leading up to the O2 Arena show were transformative for Jason. They were not only about musical preparation but also a period of personal growth and sobriety, making the experience even more significant.
Years later, when the concert film “Celebration Day” premiered, capturing the magic of the Led Zeppelin reunion, Jason was moved to tears as cherished memories flooded back. The camaraderie shared with his father’s bandmates in the rehearsal room, the anecdotes and stories exchanged, and the powerful musical connection they shared – all these moments resurfaced, overwhelming him with emotion.
Indeed, Jason Bonham’s journey is a testament to the power of music to bridge generations and create lasting legacies. Through his experiences with rock legends, he learned invaluable lessons in musicianship, humility, and the beauty of living in the present moment. Jason’s journey serves as an inspiration to musicians and fans alike, a reminder that the magic of music transcends time, connecting us all in a harmonious symphony of life.