Jason Bonham On Preserving The Legacy Of John Bonham And Revisiting Led Zeppelin On Stage

Jason Bonham soundchecks before Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening performance at the...[+] Genesee Theater. Wednesday, November 3, 2021, Waukegan (IL) Photo by Barry Brecheisen
It was only one time. It was meant to be, Jason Bonham, drummer, stated prior to the performance of Jason Bonhams Led Zeppelin Evening at The Genesee Theatre, Waukegan (Illinois), on March 31, 2019.

JBLZE celebrates the music of Led Zeppelin since 2010, giving fans an exclusive look inside the legendary band's inner circle.

It's a project that was born from Led Zeppelins 2007 London reunion concert, which was dubbed Celebration Day. Jason joined Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones on stage to pay tribute to John Bonham, who is arguably the greatest drummer of rock and roll history.

Jason Bonham embraces Zeppelin with reverence almost as if it were his birthright. Celebration Day is the realization of a long-held dream. The show was over, leaving Bonham in a difficult spot.

NEW YORK (NY) - OCTOBER 9: John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page attend the Led... [+] Zeppelin Celebration Day Press Conference held in New York City on October 9, 2012. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images. Led Zeppelins John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page join Jason Bonham to discuss Celebration Day concert film in New York City at Museum of Modern Art. Celebration Day is a 2007 tribute concert to Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records, at London's O2 Arena. Omniverse Vision will release the film worldwide on October 17, 2012 on 1,500 screens across over 40 countries. It will then be available in multiple audio and video formats on November 19, 2012. Getty Images

We had been to the Celebration Day O2 Arena reunion. It stopped and I was shocked. Because deep down, I knew there was more to it. You've waited your whole life for the chance to play with Zeppelin, and finally get a chance to prove yourself. Bonham said backstage in Waukegan that although I believed I was ready for it to end, it didn't happen. We rehearsed and repeated the O2 rehearsals. I spent lots of time with the boys and my dads mates. Six weeks of seeing them five times a week. We would also socialize on weekends with Robert [Plant]. It was difficult to stop that. It is hard not to feel that presence when you are with these guys. I felt very close to my father. It was hard.

John Bonham died in 1980, when his son was only 13. Jason was a prodigy at drums and could be seen playing with his father at age 7 in The Song Remains The Same 1976 Led Zeppelin concert film. He learned the importance of detail by preparing to perform at his father's house during the Celebration Day concert. This gave him the ability to pay attention to every detail and recreate the magic of Led Zeppelin in front of some of rock's most demanding fans.

Jason Bonham performs during soundcheck before a performance by Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin... [+] Evening At The Genesee Theatre. Wednesday, November 3, 2021, Waukegan (IL) Photo by Barry Brecheisen

My manager said, "Why don't you get together and do something like a tribute thing?" I replied, Really? You want me to play drums with a real band? Bonham said, "I thought it was ridiculous." It was a great feeling to be able to play with Zeppelin at Celebration Day. It was great to do it at a time when everyone was in form and it was good. The drummer said, "I didn't want to ruin that." Everyone looks at me. This is your family name. This is your dad's music. This is your dad's music. I am very particular about this. It was all about the music. People love to hear live music.

The project began in 2010. It quickly grew to a multimedia experience with home videos that allowed Bonham to play with his father, who was a drummer who seldom rehearsed or kept a drum set in the house.

After outings with Peter Frampton and Heart, Jason Bonhams Led Zeppelin Evening is now a five-piece group that puts the emphasis on the songs. They meticulously recreate the music of Led Zeppelin in two hours each night, putting the spotlight squarely on the songs.

Jason Bonham poses outside of the Genesee Theatre before a performance of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin... [+] Evening. Wednesday, November 3, 2021, Waukegan (IL) Photo by Barry Brecheisen

When I first said that I would do this show once 11 years ago, I quickly realized that it was therapy. Bonham and his group received standing ovations after their rendition of The Ocean, the third song of the evening. This show was renamed "Let's go back and recall a time when you could hear a whole album on the radio." The drummer said that you didn't have to create a playlist, but you could. This is a celebration. We are grateful for you. Let's have some fun tonight with your support. Let's take a look at the mountains and see what else is out there!

Wednesday night saw Mr. Jimmy Sakurai's slide guitar play a rollickingly bluesy version of When the Levee Breaks. James Dylan, the singer, delivered the song's signature goin’ to Chicago! lyrics to rapturous applause outside the Windy City.

Jason Bonham was at his best on Kashmir. He doubled as the evening's emcee and entertained the crowd with stories about Led Zeppelin.

Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening soundchecks before a performance at Genesee Theatre. ... [+] Wednesday November 4, 2021 in Waukegan (IL) Photo by Barry Brecheisen

The stories are just as important as the music in this show. Jason was influenced by Stewart Copeland, a Police drummer. He laughed on stage when he told of the time his father took Jason to see The Police. It almost led to an altercation between Bonham and Sting.

Jason learned to embrace Led Zeppelin after he had grown up rebelliously. Jason Bonhams Led Zeppelin Evening is influenced by a particular fond memory from August 1979.

1979, second week of Knebworth. I was there at the side of stage. The first week I missed because I was competing in the British championship race for motocross. The next week, however, I saw them at Knebworth. It got to the point that they did Kashmir. Dad is a great example of this. He said that this was the inspiration for Celebration Day. People say to me, "Oh man, you've made it yours!" I reply, "I didnt listen the 79 Knebworth version, did you?" Dad doesn't actually do the album. He goes off at the end and begins playing fills over the rest, overplaying. It was truly inspiring. Bonham recalled it as one of his most memorable moments.

Live on stage, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin night performs at the Genesee Theatre. Wednesday,... [+] November 3rd 2021 in Waukegan (IL Photo by Barry Brecheisen

I was just trying to get back into my grooves. Motocross had taken over. It was almost like nobody in my family does this. I had also gotten very skilled at it. It was only after my dad died that I could focus again on drums. Robert says that I was an 8-year-old drummer who was also a great 12 year old drummer. I was also a very good 14 year-old drummer. But I wasn't an exceptional 17 year old drummer. It adds up. I had already left. It was time to work again.

Bonham was present last week as Sammy Hagar launched a Las Vegas residency. It continues through November 13th at The STRAT Theater.

Sammy, as usual, likes to throw songs at us that we have never played before in our lives, he smiled, describing the residency's first two nights. Surprisingly, when I looked around, I noticed that they had performed the venue just like Cabo Wabo Cantina in Mexico. Bonham said that it really has the same atmosphere.

Jason Bonham (right), performs with Sammy Hagar and The Circle at RiverEdge Park. ... [+] Sunday July 18, 2021 Aurora, IL Photo: Barry Brecheisen

Bonham has been a member of Sammy Hagar since 2014, when The Circle was formed. Bonham plays drums on Lockdown 2020 which is the band's second album. It was also one of the Grammy nominees.

Lockdown 2020 is being considered as Best Rock Album along with the group's take on David Bowies Heroes in the Best Rock Performance category. This record was recorded during early pandemic quarantine and is lo-fi.

MORE FROM FORBES Sammy Hagar and The Circle on Return to the Road, Vegas Residency and Maintaining Optimism

It started with Im there going, Hey Sam, how about you do something remotely?" explained Lockdown 2020's drummer. In the first few Lockdown sessions, the drums were only an iPhone recording - music or video. There weren't any other microphones. Bonham described the 15 live cuts as "cool". We got more technical later. The first one was simple. We all sang or recorded it into our iPhones. That was the beauty of it. It was just a way for us to mix the audio and video feeds.

Jason Bonham soundchecks before Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening performance at the...[+] Genesee Theater. Wednesday, November 3, 2021, Waukegan (IL) Photo by Barry Brecheisen

Jason Bonham, a JBLZE performer, goes to great lengths in order to share the legacy of his father with a new generation. When asked about his father's musical ambitions, Bonham was caught off guard and enthusiastically described them to us.

My legacy, I would simply say Im me. It was something I didn't even consider. The drummer said that it was my kids. He has that feeling I had when I was 23, that I thought I would be the best. The world had never taken it from you. He said that you believe everything you do is great and everyone should hear it. He's at the stage in his life when he is the coolest guy in the world. His work ethic is the best thing about him. He is amazing when he truly wants it.

Jason Bonham soundchecks before Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening performance at the...[+] Genesee Theater. Wednesday, November 3, 2021, Waukegan (IL) Photo by Barry Brecheisen

Jason Bonham is still on tour with JBLZE in America from November 26 through December 26, and along Hagar and Company through December 8. The drummer has rediscovered his love for live performance after a pandemic.

We hadn't spoken to each other in person or seen each other for over two years before [JBLZE] came together this year. Our last show was in October 2019 with Peter Frampton. He said that it was a two-year hiatus for us. It's obvious that there are new rules. There are many masks. There are many nervous people. There is still uncertainty. Bonham asked Bonham: "Is it wrong to be on the road so soon?" It's been very emotional every time we have played. We sold 4,200 tickets at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles - our highest sales this year. It is an amazing feeling. It has been an overwhelming response from those who came out. It's a choice to be out there. We are grateful for your support. We are just as passionate about the music as you are.