John Henry Bonham (31 May 1948 – 25 September 1980) was an English musician andsongwriter, best known as the drummer of Led Zeppelin. Bonham was esteemed for his speed, power, fast right foot, distinctive sound, and "feel" for the groove. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock music by many drummers, other musicians, and commentators in the industry.
Bonham was born on 31 May 1948, in Redditch, Worcestershire, England, to Joan and Jack Bonham. He began learning to play drums at the age of five, making a drum kit out of containers and coffee tins, imitating his idols Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. His mother gave him a snare drum at the age of ten. He received his first proper drum kit from his father at fifteen, a Trixon kit. Bonham never took any formal drum lessons, though as a teen he would get advice from other Redditch drummers. Between 1962-63, while still at school, Bonham joined the Blue Star Trio,and Gerry Levene & the Avengers.
Bonham attended Lodge Farm Secondary Modern School, where his headmaster once wrote in his school report card that "He will either end up a dustman or a millionaire". After leaving school in 1964, he worked for his father as an apprentice carpenter in between drumming for different local bands. In 1964, Bonham joined his first semi-professional band, Terry Webb and the Spiders, and met his future wife Pat Phillips around the same time. He also played in other Birmingham bands such as The Nicky James Movement and The Senators, who released a moderately successful single "She's a Mod," in 1964. Bonham then took up drumming full-time. Two years later, he joined A Way of Life, but the band soon became inactive. Desperate for a regular income, he joined a blues group calledCrawling King Snakes, whose lead singer was a young Robert Plant.
In 1967, A Way of Life asked Bonham to return to the group, and he agreed — though throughout this period, Plant kept in contact with Bonham. When Plant decided to form Band of Joy, Bonham was first choice as drummer. The band recorded a number of demos but no album. In 1968 American singer Tim Rose toured Britain and invited Band of Joy to open his concerts. When Rose returned for another tour months later, Bonham was formally invited by the singer to drum for his band, which gave him a regular income.