Three years after picking up his late father’s drum sticks for Led Zeppelin’s London reunion concert, Jason Bonham, son of John, is taking the band’s music on the road as the Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. He refuses to name his bandmates — “Some of them are known people, and I wouldn’t want anyone to make a pre-judged idea of who these people are until they hear them on the first night,” he tells Rolling Stone — but does admit he would rather be playing stadiums with the actual Led Zeppelin. “That one [reunion] concert was the highlight of my life, and I know that sounds kind of sad,” says Bonham.
Robert Plant, however, refused. “I’ve had many a talk with Robert over these last couple of years about why we didn’t carry on,” Bonham explains. “He said to me, ‘You were great all night and I love ya and your dad would be so proud of you, but Led Zeppelin was John. We had something very, very special and I’d like to keep that part of my life very, very special.’ I dug what he said, but at the same time I wanted us to go on.”
After that, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Bonham began rehearsing in private as a trio. “In 2008 we did twenty-one days of rehearsals,” says Bonham. “It was magical days for me, jamming just for the fun of it.” He won’t confirm or deny reports that Steven Tyler and Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy sat in with the group. “People have said that and I’m not calling them liars,” he says. “There were certainly other people involved that were famous and very good in their own way. We talked about touring, but I don’t think it was ever going to be called Led Zeppelin. No one person called it off. It was just a kind of ‘we agreed to disagree’ vibe.’ There was no uproar or anything.”
When it became clear that no incarnation of Led Zeppelin would hit the road, Bonahm started to seriously consider longtime offers to create a tribute band. “This was a tough one for me, because I never imagined myself doing something like that,” he admits. “The people that put on the Beatles tribute show Rain approached me, and made me realize that I could do this while continuing to feed my own creativity and not feeling like a sell-out.” The tribute tour kicks off October 8th in Dawson Creek British Columbia. Bonham says the show will feature his five piece band, archival video and his personal memories of Led Zeppelin.
Bonham also plans to tour with Black Country Communion, a new band that features former Deep Purple bassist Glen Hughes and guitarist Joe Bonamassa. “I’d love to play Zeppelin songs like ‘Lemon Song’ and ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ with them,” says Bonham. “I’d also love to do the Deep Purple Tracks ‘Burn’ and ‘Highway star.’” All these plans will be put on hold, however, should Robert Plant ever change his mind. “I never say never,” says Bonham. “If they made the call I’d swim there if I had to.”