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When Daddy is a Rock Star: John and Jason Bonham


From the little boy playing on his legendary father’s drum to filling his mighty shoes at the Zeppelin reunion tour in 2007, Jason Bonham certainly knows there are benefits when Daddy is a rock star. The powerful musician is currently touring the world with The Led Zeppelin Experience.

Jason Bonham
Jason Bonham

By Todd McFliker

There may not be any Led Zeppelin reunion on the horizon, but Jason Bonham, the son of the band’s late drummer John Bonham, is taking matters into his own hands.  The legend’s boy will be headlining the Led Zeppelin Experience, a multimedia event that tells the tale of England’s mighty quartet.

According to a Zeppelin website, the tour will make thirty different stops around North America.  The show will feature Bonham on drums alongside handpicked musicians doing their best to replicate the Zeppelin sound.  Using state of the art sound, multi-media video presentation and period specific drum kits, the famous band’s broad history will be shown with multiple set changes.  Led Heads will be transported to Madison Square Garden in 1973, Earls Court Arena in 1975, the Knebworth Festival in 1979 and the O2 arena show where Jason supplied the same monstrous drumming of his late father for the band’s farewell performance in 2007.

John Bonham
John Bonham

At the 02 arena, Jason helped the three original members of Zeppelin deliver sixteen pounding numbers to 70,000 seat-holders in two hours.  Not unlike his father, Jason’s whole body bounced up and down with his hands’ crashing beats.  Sporting a buzz cut, the percussionist in his early forties is a chip off the old block, beating his snare drum.

We can just keep our fingers crossed that we won’t hear a recreation of “Moby Dick.”  True, Jason can be seen as a toddler filling his dad’s shoes for the number on the 1976 film, The Song Remains the Same. But it’s only proper that the young drummer doesn’t attempt to recreate his father’s signature sound onstage.  No one, despite the blood running through John’s veins, can bang those drums with his hands like John, aka “Bonzo” or the “Beast,” who climbed his own stairway to heaven.

Jason Bonham
Jason Bonham

In the biography, John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums, Jason’s father says “He’s just like me.  He’s always drumming.  Even when we go out in the car he takes his sticks to bash on the seats.”  The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.  “My dad’s sound did come out in me,” he adds.

John bought the boy a little replica of his own drum set, and showed off Jason’s skills to all of his friends.  A 21-year-old Jason eventually appeared with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at the 1988 Zeppelin reunion in New York.  A year later, Jason formed his own band, Bonham, and enjoyed a successful recording and touring career.  John’s strong-willed son has developed his own powerful style, but still pays full tribute to the influence of his old man.

Jason Bonham will be the first to tell you, there are certainly benefits when Daddy is a timeless rock star.  Check back with FatherhoodChannel for next week’s Daddy is a Rock Star blog on Neil Young and his son’s global quest for autistic rights.

A newlywed, Todd McFliker is an award-winning reporter, photographer, and the author of All You Need is Love to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. He earned his Masters in Communication from Lynn University.

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