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Jason Bonham Brings Zeppelin Tribute to San Jose

In Music
Bonzo’s Boy  Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham, now leads a Zeppelin tribute band.

Bonzo’s Boy Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham, now leads a Zeppelin tribute band.

One might presume that while playing alongside three of the most revered musicians in all of rock & roll history, the biggest concern anyone would have would be staying on beat. But according to Jason Bonham, the most important thing is far more abstract than that.

“Sometimes it’s not always about chops, but getting it to feel right,” Bonham says. “You might be playing everything correct, but if the feeling’s not right, it doesn’t matter.”
He ought to know. As the son of the late John Bonham, the legendary drummer of Led Zeppelin, Jason was given the gig of a lifetime when he was tapped to fill in for his dear old dad when the Zep reunited in 2007 for a one-off show at London’s O2 Arena.

Bonham spent six weeks jamming with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones in the run-up to that show. Those rehearsals, combined with his childhood make him uniquely qualified to head up a Led Zeppelin tribute group. The Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, which Rolling Stone described as performing “strikingly faithful” renditions of Zeppelin originals, is slated to play the City National Civic on Dec. 4.

Bonham not only received hands-on tutoring on how to perform his father’s parts from the likes of Page, Plant and Jones—he also spent a great deal of time hanging out in the studio with his father. Home movie clips of an adolescent Jason, which will be played during the concert, show the youngster with his dad and playing drums.

Bonham says it’s been a wonderful experience playing Led Zeppelin’s music—both in the way he’s seen it impact fans and on a personal level.

He says he’s received a great number of fan correspondence since he began the Led Zeppelin Experience—much of it from fans who say the band has helped them feel more fulfilled.

“People will write and say, ‘I never got a chance to see Led Zeppelin, and I’ve seen every cover band that’s come into town, but you’ve made me feel like I was actually there,’” Bonham says.

It’s a rewarding feeling, he says, but perhaps not as rewarding as the feeling he got from playing with his father’s former band mates.

“When I was with them playing, it was as if he (John Bonham) were in a backroom break, and any minute now he was going to walk back in,” Jason says. “It was as if we had just missed each other in the hallway—but he was there.”

Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience occurs on Dec 4, 7:30pm, $35-$55 at the City National Civic, San Jose

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