In Through the Out Door

Led Zeppelin Drummer John Bonham Comes Clean

In Through the Out Door

emily nokes

JOHN BONHAM “We should have just kept fishing.”

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John Bonham, of Redditch, Worcestershire, England, is the son of a carpenter and is undoubtedly one of the greatest drummers the earth has ever been pummeled by. Bonham grew up swinging hammers and laying bricks, instilling heaviness into his hands and limbs. His friend Robert Plant recruited him to play in the band Led Zeppelin, and with them, his ancient futuristic meter was set into stone. Bonham's playing is multidimensional—innovative with stamina and feel. His inhumanly hefty and fast right foot pounds out a two-ton stomp. You hear it and know it's Bonzo Bonham. Live, his solos go on for 25 minutes, incorporating an effected orchestral timpani drum that hooks cables into hovering alien crafts outside the venue and brings them in for landing.

Led Zeppelin are rehearsing at guitarist Jimmy Page's mansion in Windsor. I'm excited to hear new songs, like "Poor Tom," off their forthcoming album Coda. John Bonham spoke. It took seven separate managers to connect the call. Bonham said he was outside, in a field, and that the sun was out. The reception was surprisingly clear.

What have you been up to, John?

I've been playing lots. Feeling good. I had a rough time there for a bit, but everything's under control now. This place where I'm staying is so far out here, it's hard to get drum parts. The roads to get here are nuts. I discovered fro-yo a couple months ago, and it's blowing my mind. The Reese's/graham cracker combination is tops.

Who are your favorite drummers? Could you talk about how you get your sound?

Max Roach, Gene Krupa, and Buddy Rich. I think you gotta spend time with your drums. Learn to tune them. I use a 14-by-6.5-inch Ludwig Chrome Supraphonic 402 snare. I keep the bottom heads tight. My kick drum is 26 by 14 inches, and I don't like a hole in the front head. The large amount of air needed to move through the shell has to travel very quickly to properly excite the resonant head.

Did you really record "When the Levee Breaks" in a cave?

No [laughs]. We were using the Rolling Stones' mobile recording studio at Headley Grange in Hampshire. At one time, the grange was a three-story Victorian workhouse with a huge open hall and a staircase going up—that's where we got the drums for "Levee Breaks." We had the drums in the hall close-mic'd, but also had mics three stories up getting that echo sound.

What happened with the fish at the Edgewater here in Seattle? The famous mud shark incident. Rumor has it there was a groupie and a sexual act that involved a fish. What really happened, John?

We liked the Edgewater, you could fish right from the room—we'd caught about two dozen fish. There was a 17-year-old redhead named Jackie who wouldn't leave us alone. She said she really liked being tied up. As gentlemen, we obliged, and ordered a rope from room service. Our road manager entertained us by taking a red snapper and introducing it into Jackie's private parts. It was the snapper's nose that was used on Jackie. I think someone filmed the whole thing. The girl loved it. She said she was up for anything. It wasn't anything malicious or harmful.

Do you regret it?

Looking back, I'd say it wasn't the wisest use of our time. We should have just kept fishing. But the groupies were persistent. Jackie came in and said that she wanted sex, that she loved being tied up. She sort of instigated it.

She was 17.

We were drunk and high.

Oh, so it's okay. You were married—what did your wife think?

It wasn't something we really talked about. It wasn't like I came home from tour and said, "Honey, you should have seen her face." [Laughs] You're right, it was stupid. We'd be gone for so long. Long stretches out on the road. Drumming was the only thing I was ever any good at. [Pauses] I've never told anyone this before, but after everyone else left the room, Jackie said I might like the fish. I was so drunk, and no one was around. I thought, why not. So I took my pants off, got on the bed, and she put it in my bum. She put the snapper in my arse.

Whoa. How was it?

I loved it. I was surprised—none of us guys did that sort of thing. We were tough. I was supposed to be this great, burly drummer, but I learned something that day. Most men don't know about their own G-spot. The prostate is, essentially, the male equivalent of a woman's G-spot. If you're open to it, it can lead to the best orgasms you could ever hope for.

I had all these drum questions, but this is way more interesting. What's your process for finding the male G-spot?

Once you've made yourself as comfortable as possible, start by gently massaging the area around your anus. Use the soft pad of your index finger and be gentle. When you're comfortable enough, begin probing. Relax your sphincter. The male G-spot is a small, chestnut-sized bump about two inches in.

Got it. I'll spread the word. So you guys are rehearsing, and I heard you drank 40 shots of alcohol. I could see five or six. But Jesus, your liver must look like a volcanic rock.

Well, the 40 shots were over the span of 12 hours. I'm a tank, what can I say, mate. Once I get going, it's hard to stop. You'd think after 10 hours of drinking, someone would say, "Hey, Bonzo, that's enough."

I'm glad you were able to face your problem, though, and get some help. I think this next tour is going to be your best. The Paramount is the perfect venue to see y'all in. I've waited to see you my whole life. Will you be staying at the Edgewater again?

Wait, I didn't face anything—I died. I'm dead. I passed out and choked on my own vomit on September 25, 1980.

What? But we're speaking. I called. I was connected seven times by your seven managers.

Yeah. I have the iPhone 50. It lets you speak to the dead. I fucking hate the touch screen on it, though.

You can't be dead. If the Stones can still do it you can still do it. You guys have to play—my friend Joel bought mushrooms.

Sorry laddie, I'm dead as a doorknob. The 40 shots did me in. I would if I could, believe me, but they haven't figured out the technology for drumming from this dimension. recommended


Comments (25) RSS

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Leonard Haze, Bitches.
Posted by Beat Masterson on March 6, 2013 at 2:51 PM · Report this
It's true, "Poor Tom" doesn't get attention it deserves as a song.
Posted by Sam Cl on March 6, 2013 at 3:18 PM · Report this
Emily Nokes 3
"Will you be staying at the Edgewater again?" Hahahaa
Posted by Emily Nokes on March 6, 2013 at 6:41 PM · Report this
Dear The Stranger,

I like you. I like John Bonham, too. This is the most inane piece I've ever seen you publish. Why do this? Maybe stop doing this? I'd appreciate it.
Posted by TheWoeofAftermath on March 6, 2013 at 8:49 PM · Report this
So he interviews a dead person and turns the tables on a disgusting stain to the city of Seattle and its place in Rock and Roll history.

They have Bonham himself take it in the beehind, proceed to explain the male G spot, and then they act like he's still alive. The dead person has to break it to the interviewer that he is in fact dead (which really sucks for Joel).

This completely made my day. Fucking hilarious, and I'll go ahead and say ingenious.

I like The Stranger more than #4 and I say please, do MORE of this. Thank you. I read waaay too much tired boring shit. Shit that #4 probably writes or likes. Thank you for putting stuff like this out, that actually makes me laugh and think.
Posted by Kim Rice on March 7, 2013 at 5:53 AM · Report this
Why didn't I see you viewing Weckl either of the last couple nights? You're really not all that into drummers, are you? Fibber.
Posted by Beat Masterson on March 7, 2013 at 9:07 AM · Report this
Is this interview an actual interview from 1980
with the last part made up or is the whole interview a joke? Is it a compliment to John
Bonham or an anti-led zeppelin joke? Please help me, I need to know if the part about putting the fish in his booty is real- if not,
fuck you for insulting people after they are
dead. I knew of the fish story, bur never heard
the John's butt part.
Posted by handelfire on March 7, 2013 at 12:29 PM · Report this
handelfire, Or... How about fuck John Bonham for sitting there taking part, or "watching" a girl who is minor have a fish inside her? Fuck you for insulting women.

Do you think it's ok for grown men to do this kind of thing to minors?
Posted by Kim Rice on March 7, 2013 at 4:27 PM · Report this
Trent Moorman 9
It's all totally true, except for the Froyo.
Posted by Trent Moorman on March 8, 2013 at 1:00 AM · Report this
Anna Anna Anna 10
Happy International Women's Day!!! Turn around, John, I have some snapper for you.

Posted by Anna Anna Anna on March 8, 2013 at 3:02 PM · Report this
However much I love Led Zeppelin, I wouldn't want to touch that fish!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on March 9, 2013 at 6:38 PM · Report this
The mud shark is also commonly known as a dogfish. The red snapper is an entirely different species.
Also: I grew up hearing that this legendary bit of nasty business was perpetrated by a band called Vanilla Fudge.
Posted by phideaux on March 10, 2013 at 11:30 PM · Report this
You should interview a dead Frank Zappa to confirm the details of this mudshark incident, as related at the O'hare airport in a chance meeting with The Vanilla Fudge.
Posted by ctmcmull on March 11, 2013 at 11:51 AM · Report this
What @4 said.
Posted by remarkablyadept on March 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM · Report this
The mudshark incident involved Zeppelin's roadies, after the band members had left. Jeez, get yer lies straight!
Posted by BallardBoy on March 11, 2013 at 7:23 PM · Report this
Fnarf 16
You should have asked him about the fan he beat the shit out of in Los Angeles after a show at the Whiskey. Left him unconscious on the ground and dropped a wad of money on his chest as he walked away. The kid wanted an autograph. Bonham was a psychopath.

It's amazing to think that Zeppelin played the Aqua Theater at Green Lake in 1969, which would have been well within earshot of where I'm sitting, up the hill. Hell, they could probably hear them in Ballard.
Posted by Fnarf on March 12, 2013 at 1:32 AM · Report this
This is the recent equivalent of the FOX News interview with (fake) Thomas Jefferson. Nice work!
Posted by Erok on March 12, 2013 at 10:47 AM · Report this
It's pretty clear here that Moorman isn't saying Bonham did it. There are different versions -

Cole and John Bonham spent a drunken night reeling in fish. The basis of their is that a pretty young groupie with red hair, was disrobed and tied to the bed and that Led Zeppelin then proceeded to stuff pieces of shark into her vagina and rectum. “Jackie”, a tall redhead from Portland, seventeen years old, was swigging champagne from the bottle and telling the group how much she enjoyed being tied up during sex.

Richard Cole’s version…

“It wasn’t Bonzo, it was me. It wasn’t shark parts anyway: It was the nose that got put in. We caught a lot of big sharks, at least two dozen, stuck coat hangers through the gills and left ‘em in the closet . . . But the true shark story was that it wasn’t even a shark. It was a red snapper and the chick happened to be a fucking redheaded broad with a ginger pussy. And that is the truth. Bonzo was in the room, but I did it. Mark Stein [of Vanilla Fudge] filmed the whole thing. And she loved it. It was like, “You’d like a bit of fucking, eh? Let’s see how your red snapper likes this red snapper!” That was it. It was the nose of the fish, and that girl must have cum 20 times.”

Here’s Vanilla Fudge’s Carmine Appice version of the incident…

Both bands were in town for the Seattle Pop Festival, and Appice was hanging out in John Paul Jones’ room with the girl and Fudge keyboard player Mark Stein, who had an 8-millimeter camera. Appice said,

“That’s totally wrong, It was my groupie. She saw the camera, and kept saying she wanted to play around.”

Then Bonham and two members of Fudge’s road crew invaded the room with the catch of the day: a mud shark, not a snapper.

“We moved to my room, and it got pretty gross. I decided to leave, and then I realized I was in my room already.”

At various points, most of Zeppelin and the Fudge came in for a look at the groupie being pleasured with the shark; Robert Plant recently confirmed that while he saw some of the proceedings, it was really a Vanilla Fudge event. Appice claims that Cole made up the name Jackie, saying, “In those days, Richard was so out of it, I’m surprised he remembers his own name.”
Posted by I am Snapper on March 12, 2013 at 11:21 AM · Report this
19 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
I agree that "Poor Tom" is a greatly under-appreciated song.
Posted by BallardBoy on March 12, 2013 at 7:16 PM · Report this
21 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
i'm pro-science and i vote 22
I wouldn't ever have a snapper fish up my ass. Goddamn that sounds gross. Unless it was to turn on a hot young redhead
Posted by i'm pro-science and i vote on March 13, 2013 at 12:05 AM · Report this
Nice mash-up, EN. I believe I'm sensing some affection amidst multiple layers of irony. And although it's hard to make an anti-alcohol abuse message cool, there's no denying it would have been sweet having this fellow on the planet for a few more years, iPhone 50 notwithstanding.
Posted by druiddude on March 13, 2013 at 7:57 AM · Report this
I'm sorry but this piece just seemed pointless and really without any redemptive merit. Can someone please explain the point to me of conjuring up the image of a dead person and using them as your own private marionette and say funny things?

Also, "Coda" was an outtakes album released in 1982. There would never have been any rehearsals for it and if John Bonham had lived they certainly wouldn't have titled their next album Coda. The premise/setup to your dead rock star interview is basically bullshit.
Posted by Zosofancmr on April 24, 2013 at 1:29 PM · Report this
NaFun 25
Please remember that Robert Plant and Bonzo were each maybe 19 at the time of the red snapper incident, and it was the road manager who did the deed.
Posted by NaFun on December 30, 2013 at 6:47 AM · Report this

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