‘There was a freedom in it’: Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page on the wonder and power of John Bonham

John Bonham’s death shook Led Zeppelin to its very core, and in some ways his loss still resonates. The group has rarely gotten back together since, and even when they do the drummer’s presence looms over everything that they do.

Even so, guitarist Jimmy Page says he remembers Bonzo in terms of “this huge joy in his playing. It was so inspiring to play with John Bonham,” Page says, as part of the recently remastered and deluxe editions of Led Zeppelin I-III. “He had such an incredible technique. Obviously, he’d been in various bands and things before coming to Led Zeppelin but, with Led Zeppelin, it gave him the vehicle to be able to play the drums that John Bonham really wanted to be able to play — because there was a freedom in it. So, that’s how you arrive at something like his drum patterns in ‘Good Times Bad Times.’”

That deep, and lasting, admiration gave Page a keen insight into what the drummer’s son was facing when he took over for the late Bonham during concerts like the 2007 O2 show, which was eventually released as Celebration Day.

Page reveals that he and bassist John Paul Jones held extensive private practices with Jason Bonham before the performance, “so that he really felt part of the band — because he had the hardest job of anybody. He had to step into his father’s shoes. I know that the amount of work that we put into it gave him to extra confidence to be able do that.”

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