John Bonham Drums

Pre - Led Zeppelin Bands

The Blue Star Trio

15 year old John Bonham joined the Blue Star Trio band in 1963, replacing drummer Bill Harvey.

Band Members:
Terry Beale - Guitar and Vocals
Mick(ey) Ellis - Guitar and Vocals

Terry Webb and the Spiders

John played with this band when he was 16 in 1962. They had a distinct band image which included them wearing "purple jackets with velvet lapels". The singer wore a gold lame jacket.

Richard de Bastion (musician/pianist) from this band contacted me in 2013 and wrote the following:
'Ray and Wilf would pick me up in Stratford every Wednesday evening for band practice. We gigged almost every weekend in a wide circuit around the Midlands. Jim left the band after about six months and was replaced by John (Bonham). I had a Selmer Pianotron and could compete with the new volume. I had to leave the band in the autumn of 1963 after failing my O levels..there was much frustration, John wanted to move on.. I remember him mentioning joining a Birmingham band called 'Soulful Sound'. I met Ray and Wilf, performing as a duo some time ago on a visit to the Stratford area.'

Band Members:
Ray - Rhythm guitar
Alan - Bass
Wilf - (Terry Webb) Vocals
Jim - Drums
Richard de Bastion - Piano

The Senators

Bonham drummed and sung backing vocals for The Senators in 1964
The Senators recorded a cover of the song 'She's a Mod' (originally written by Terry Child) for a compilation LP called 'Brum Beat', a somewhat popular album featuring bands from around Birmingham. This is probably the first recording John Bonham made.
The Senators held a residency at The Navigation Inn in Coventry.

Interesting related site:

Band Members:
Terry Beal (stage name: Bobby Child) - Singer and Composer
John Bonham - Drums and Vocals
Bill Ford - Bass Guitar and Vocals
Trevor McGowan - Lead Guitar and Vocals
Graham Dennis - Rhythm Guitar and Vocals

Pat Wayne and the Beachcombers

Bonham sat in for several gigs.

Band Members:
Pat Wayne - Vocals
Dario Capaldi - Sax
Mal Edwards - Bass
Brian Finch - Sax
Jeff Roberts - Lead Guitar
Brian Sharpe - Drums

The Nicky James Movement

John played with The Nicky James Movement during 1965. Once this outfit had split up, all the band members went on to form and join new musical projects. Roy Wood and Bev Bevan formed 'The Move' and Mike Pinder joined 'The Moody Blues'. Nicky James played with Denny Laine and the Diplomats.

Band Members:
Nicky James - Singer
Roy Wood
Bev Bevan
Mike Pinder
John Bonham - Drums

Steve Brett and the Mavericks

During the lifetime of the band, its line-up changed significantly with past members including Dave Holland, a Wolverhampton born bassist who would later play with the Jazz Legend Miles Davis. A later line-up of the band included Noddy (Neville) Holder from Slade who played guitar and sung vocals.
The following list of band member are those who were likely playing whilst John Bonham was their drummer:

Band Members:
Steve Brett - Vocals and Guitar
Rick Dene - Bass
Gary James - Drums
Robert Nelson - Lead Guitar
Dave Holland - Bass

Danny King and the Mayfair Set

Trevor Burton played guitar for the band up until 1966 when he went on to play with the successful group: 'The Move'.

Way Of Life

17 year old John Bonham joined Way Of Life in 1966. He played with them for 18 months after which he took a break, returning for a short while in 1967.
The band occasionally featured two drummers for live shows: Bonham and Bugsy Eastwood. Bugsy later joined Dave Pegg and John Kill in The Exceptions.
Way Of Life supported The Kinks at The Plaza in Handsworth, Birmingham.

Band Members:
Mike Hopkins - Lead Guitar
Tony Clarkson - Bass
John Bonham - Drums - sang lead vocals on 'Hey Joe' - (See interview with Reg Jones)
Reg Jones - Vocals
Chris Jones - Guitar (the Jones brothers are uncles to Ace Kefford of 'The Move')

The bands later line-up included Danny King who sang vocals and played bass, and later Dave Pegg (from Fairport Convention) playing bass. See also the interview with Dave Pegg

The Crawling King Snakes

It was in this band that John Bonham and Robert Plant first made sweet music together. John joined The Crawling King Snakes in 1967 during his hiatus with the band Way Of Life, playing gigs around the West Midlands.

Band Members:
Robert Plant - Vocals
Ian 'Inky' Watts - Lead Guitar
Bruce 'Maverick' Oakes - Bass
Johnny Pasternak - Guitar
Nigel Knowles - Drums prior to Bonham

Band of Joy

Band of Joy formed in 1966 with John joining them later 1967. They put on a unique show, with the bassist regularly stage diving and the band members painting their faces.

One of the usual lineups for the band included: Robert Plant on vocals (and importantly the driver of the van to and from gigs), Vernon Prarrera on guitar, Mick Reeves on bass, Chris Brown on organ and Pete 'Plug' Robinson on drums (who was to later play with the band Bronco). Lyddon Laney and John Trickett also played with the group.

When John joined, the band held regular spots at the London clubs: the 'Middle Earth' and 'Marquee' clubs, and were earning around �60-�70 per performance.

Robert Plant: "In came this fantastic guitarist Kevyn, and we hit it off well. We had a good bass player and John Bonham came in on drums."
"It was debatable whether he'd join because it was a long way to go and pick him up, and we didn't know whether we would have the petrol money to get over to Redditch and back! We always laugh about that.
It turned out to be a really good group. It was a combination of what we wrote ourselves, which wasn't incredible, and re-arrangements of things like 'She Has Funny Cars' and 'Plastic Fantastic Lover'."

In 1967 the band booked a recording session at Regent Sound Studios, London where they recorded the following tracks.
Adriatic Sea View (released on MAS Records);
For What it's Worth (Sixty Six to Timbuktu);
Hey Joe (Sixty-Six to Timbuktu);
Memory Lane. (This is the first song written by Plant and Bonham in collaboration and its subject is a street in West Bromwich called Dagger Lane.)

A typical live set would include the following songs:
Hey Joe
Sweet Mary
For What it's Worth
If I Were a Carpenter
Hang on to a Dream

Band Members:
Robert Plant - Vocals
Kevyn Gammond - Guitar
Paul Lockey - Bass
John Bonham - Drums

Tim Rose

John joined and began touring with Tim Rose in June 1968. Unfortunately there are no known recordings of Bonzo playing with Tim Rose.

Band Members:
Tim Rose - Guitar and vocals
Steve Dolan - Bass
John Bonham - Drums