Celebration Day For Led Zeppelin
By Mary Miller Cullins
It was on this date, December 4, 1980, when Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones announced their decision not to re-form Led Zeppelin in the wake of the death of their drummer John Bonham; this past weekend surviving members of the band received the Kennedy Center Honors in a ceremony hosted by President Obama in Washington D.C. Back in 1979 at my grade-school graduation we had a live band for our dance. I’m not sure if they didn’t know very many songs or if we begged—but they played Stairway To Heaven three times that night! And as far back as I can remember maybe even to this day, Stairway To Heaven comes in #1 on every rock n roll countdown out there. Led Zeppelin is considered to be one of the most successful, innovative, and influential rock groups in history.
A North American tour, the band’s first since 1977, was scheduled to commence on October 17. On September 24, 1980, Bonham was picked up by Led Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray Studios. During the journey Bonham asked to stop for breakfast, where he downed four quadruple vodkas, with a ham roll. After taking a bite of the ham roll he said to his assistant, “breakfast”. He continued to drink heavily when he arrived at the studio. The rehearsals were halted late that evening and the band retired to Page’s house—The Old Mill House in Clewer, Windsor. After midnight, Bonham, who had fallen asleep, was taken to bed and placed on his side. At 1:45 pm the next day Benji LeFevre (Led Zeppelin’s new tour manager) and John Paul Jones found Bonham dead. The cause of death was asphyxiation from vomit, and a verdict of accidental death was returned at an inquest held on 27 October. An autopsy found no other drugs in Bonham’s body. Bonham was cremated on 10 October 1980, and his ashes buried at Rushock parish church in Droitwich, Worcestershire.
I stayed up late last night to watch Letterman and although Led Zeppelin didn’t perform on the Late Show With David Letterman, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones did shake things up: the show had to find a third guest chair, for one thing. Thus properly seated, the trio chatted with Letterman about their influences, the Kennedy Center Honors that both host and band had received Sunday night and the good old days of shirtless aviation, prompted by Letterman holding up a picture of Zeppelin outside their “Starship” jet in 1973. Congratulations boys! It truly is a Celebration Day!
Rock N Roll Will NEVER Die!
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