John Bonham’s First Biography, ‘Beast,’ Coming

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John Bonham died more than 40 years ago. Yet, somehow, the legendary Led Zeppelin drummer has never been the subject of a biography. That all changes this September with the upcoming book, Beast: John Bonham and the Rise of Led Zeppelin. The title, from author C.M. Kushins, arrives Sept. 7, 2021 via Hachette Books.

From the announcement: the iconic John Bonham is considered by many to be one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) rock drummer of all time. Bonham, born May 31, 1948, first learned to play the drums at the age of five, and despite never taking formal lessons, began drumming for local bands immediately upon graduating from secondary school. By the late 1960s, Bonham was looking for a more solid gig in order to provide his growing family with a more regular income. Meanwhile, following the dissolution of the popular blues rock band The Yardbirds, lead guitarist Jimmy Page sought the company of new bandmates to help him record an album and tour Scandinavia as the New Yardbirds. A few months later, Bonham was recruited to join the band who would eventually become known as Led Zeppelin. Before the year was out, Bonham, Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones would become the biggest rock band in the world.

In their first year, Led Zeppelin released two albums and played multiple U.S. and U.K. concert tours. As their popularity exploded, they moved from ballrooms and smaller clubs to larger auditoriums, and eventually started selling out full arenas.

Related: Our story on the band’s debut LP

Throughout the 1970s, Led Zeppelin reached new heights of commercial and critical success, making them one of the most influential groups of the era, both in musical style and in their approach towards the workings of the entertainment industry. They added extravagant lasers, light shows, and mirror balls to their performances; wore flamboyant and often glittering outfits; traveled in a private jet airliner and rented out entire sections of hotels; and soon became the subject of frequently repeated stories of debauchery and destruction while on tour.

Watch a memorable drum solo from Bonzo in 1973

In 1977, the group performed what would be their final live appearance in the U.S., following months of rising fervor and rioting from their fandom. And in September of 1980, Bonham–plagued by alcoholism, anxiety, and the after-effects of years of excess–was dead.

Beast: John Bonham and the Rise of Led Zeppelin features a forward from fellow drummer Dave Grohl.

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