Jason Bonham’s name will be forever connected to his father, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, who died in 1980 when Jason was just 14. Now 49, Bonham is finishing preparations for his third tour with Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, which will take him to the House of Blues March 6-8.
Is part of the Zeppelin Experience to continue your communion with your father?
It’s one of the reasons why I do this show. I never really got a chance to tell him while he was alive how great I thought he was as a musician. He was just Dad, you know?
And at 14, there is a struggle between parent and child.
Yeah, but luckily for me, I was just starting to do it because the last thing we kind of did together was I got him to take me to see the Police in concert. He got me backstage to meet them. Sting said to him, “Hey John, don’t step on my blue suede shoes” and he said to Sting, “I’ll step on your head in a minute.” I was like, “Dad, don’t embarrass me.”
Is it true that your father suffered from stage fright?
He did, actually. At least when he wasn’t Bonzo. Bonzo was the part that would come out when he had a few drinks and was the more confident, bombastic, boisterous version of Dad. I asked [Jimmy Page and Robert Plant] if it was ever a problem. They said, “No, we loved it when he felt that loose.” It doesn’t work for me, and sadly, in the end, it didn’t work for Dad. Although it certainly did make for some of the greatest bootlegs.
How long has it taken to get ready for the Zeppelin Experience?
What started me thinking about doing the Led Zeppelin Experience was my realization that Led Zeppelin wasn’t going to get back together. I put it together as therapy as much as anything else. But that was five years ago. I didn’t want to keep to doing the project just for the sake of it. It had to have energy. Which it does; we love playing this music.
What can we expect from your three nights in Vegas?
On March 6, we’ll be playing [Led Zeppelin] 1 and 2. But I could never just do 1 and 2 and not play certain songs such as “Kashmir” and possibly “When the Levee Breaks.” Then on the nights we play 3 and 4, I can experiment and play other songs that wouldn’t necessarily be played live. I am really looking forward to [March 8], which is the only time on tour that we are doing Physical Graffiti.