The son of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham has confirmed he has been called to England upon occasion to rehearse new material with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.
Jason Bonham, who filled his father's shoes onstage at Led Zeppelin's one-off reunion concert in London last December, says rehearsals have taken place with them in England "a couple of times" since that show. Bonham describes these most recent sessions with Jones and Page as "magical."
Notably absent from the newly-disclosed rehearsals by these Led Zeppelin members was singer Robert Plant, who has spent much of this year touring North America and Europe, including several shows in the United Kingdom, in support of last year's collaborative album with Alison Krauss.
Bonham has likewise been on tour this year, with the group Foreigner. He has spent several years drumming for the group, which he said was one of his favorites growing up in England. In a telephone interview broadcast live in Detroit last week, Bonham said his time with that band is shortly coming to an end.
The shift coincides with a flurry of activity from the otherwise relatively dormant Led Zeppelin camp. Page, who has not played onstage regularly since touring with the Black Crowes in 2000, bounced back from a minor injury to one of his fingers last year to make three very high-profile onstage appearances over the past nine months. Led Zeppelin has managed to keep its name in the news consistently over the past year, when a new career-spanning compilation called Mothership was released, as was a significant upgrade to the band's vintage concert film from 1976.
Over the weekend, Page appeared with guitar in hand at the Olympics' closing ceremonies in Beijing to perform Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" with singer Leona Lewis.
The guitarist's only other onstage moment so far this year came in June, when both he and Jones turned up at a Foo Fighters concert at London's Wembley Stadium to sit in on live renditions of "Ramble On" and "Rock and Roll" with Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins, who traded off drums and vocals with one another.
Both of Page's live appearances in 2008 have been preceded by posts on the Led Zeppelin discussion group For Badgeholders Only by a New York-based fan calling himself Nech, who posts subtle hints to fellow Zeppelin fans of possible activity to come. When asked if he has an inside source, he insists he is fed information by a source he playfully describes with such terms as "my dentist's lesbian receptionist's boyfriend." Nech was able to tip off the group to the exact timing of the press conference announcing last year's reunion concert.
Bonham's spoken words about rehearsing in England with Page and Jones, which came in a radio interview on Friday, constitute the first public comment from any of the three musicians involved. This may also mark the first official confirmation of a statement Nech made online on Friday, April 11: "Jimmy, Jason and JPJ have been in a rehearsal studio in London last week...making new music."
Bonham's comments came early on Friday, Aug. 22, in the same radio interview during which he broke the news of his impending departure from Foreigner at the end of this month.
The younger Bonham now says ever since he left the stage of the O2 Arena in London having played for two hours with Led Zeppelin's Plant, Page and Jones, he began believing it was possible for the group to do something further. He has kept his obligations to Foreigner throughout 2008, touring in support of the band's latest compilation, No End in Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner.
The reason he is leaving Foreigner now, Bonham told radio hosts J.J. and Lynne on Detroit's WCSX 94.7 FM, is because he has been away from home for long and misses spending time his family. Bonham said that in case something happens with Led Zeppelin, he would have had time off from constant touring before that happens, whatever it is.
"I've been over a couple of times," Bonham said of his Zep-related rehearsals in England this year. "I've been working with Jimmy and John Paul and trying to do just do some new material and some writing. I don't know what it will be, but it will be something. ...
"I have to say this is something that I've always wanted to do. But asked to say as to what this project will be? At the moment, all I know is I've had the greatest pleasure to go and jam with the two guys and try to work out and try material, and so it's been fantastic from that aspect. When I get there, I never ask any questions. I just -- if I get a phone call to go and play, I enjoy every moment of it. Whatever it ends up as, to ever get a chance to jam with two people like that, it is a phenomenal thing for me. All my life, that's what I've dreamed of doing."
Bonham is full of hope with regard to a possible future making new music with Page and Jones, and he knows he is aware Led Zeppelin has many fans with similar hopes.
Foreigner has four remaining tour dates in the United States this month, and the band is scheduled for a short break before resuming the tour midway through September, assumedly with a new drummer. Their tour dates can be found here.
An MP3 of WCSX's interview with Bonham is available here.