Rock and roll bands do have a tendency to burn through drummers. The phenomenon has been so noticeable over the years that Spinal Tap did a memorable parody of it. But when Led Zeppelin’s powerhouse of a drummer John Bonham died unexpectedly at the age of 32 on September 25, 1980, there would be no replacing him. Bonham’s distinctive playing was such an integral part of the Led Zeppelin sound that it was hard to imagine anyone else filling his shoes. A few months after his death, the drummer’s grief-stricken bandmates issued a statement announcing the break-up of the group. Without Bonham, they said, “we could not continue as we were.”
The John Bonham Story, first broadcast on BBC radio in 2010, is an engaging one-hour program hosted by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, former drummer of Nirvana and a lifelong fan of Bonham. The show (above, in its entirety) includes musical performances, many of them rare, along with interviews of the surviving members of Led Zeppelin–Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones–and others who knew Bonham well, like Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice, Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers, Bonham’s younger sister Deborah and his son Jason. The John Bonham Story is a nicely produced program, a fascinating look at the life and music of the man who is widely thought of as the quintessential rock and roll drummer.