Remembering John Bonham: Led Zeppelin Live In Seattle 1977
Forty years have come and gone since legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died at the far too early age of 32 due to complications from alcohol. He is widely considered one of the greatest drummers of all time. Bonham exhibited both power and finesse behind the kit along with an innate, unshakeable sense of time.
The four members of Led Zeppelin were all at the pinnacle of their instruments. But it was Bonzo that kept those singular talents in orbit. As the all too true adage goes, “a band is only as good as its drummer,” and there’s a reason Led Zeppelin disbanded after Bonham’s death on September 25, 1980.
The magnetism of John Bonham is on full display during Led Zeppelin’s appearance at the Kingdome in Seattle on July 17th, 1977. Ironically, many critics panned Led Zeppelin when they were at their best in the early to mid-1970s. But eventually, the band’s detractors could no longer argue with Zep’s legions of fans or their watertight, close to flawless performances.
But by the late ‘70s, substance and fatigue were taking their toll even though Zeppelin was more popular than ever with fans and critics had certainly warmed up to the rock juggernauts by then. The ‘77 Kingdome show isn’t the band’s greatest performance, although, in their defense, the acoustics in the then newly minted stadium aren’t the best either. The classic opener “The Song Remains The Same” sees Jimmy Page wild and untethered but Bonzo offers parameters. He keeps “Kashmir” sane with that iconic kick and while there’s no “Moby Dick” proper, Bonham unleashes a drum solo during what is often titled “Over The Top” with an “Out On The Tiles” intro. In short, what is perhaps most impressive about the show is how Bonzo and his partner in rhythm John Paul Jones put the band on their backs, a mark of true greatness.
To remember John Bonham, watch Led Zeppelin’s entire concert from Seattle’s Kingdome in ‘77 below via Led Zeppelin Boots for this edition of Full Show Friday: