John Bonham Quotes Interview

Dave Pegg Interview

Information On Interview:

Dave Pegg Interviewed by Mick Bonham - 27 October 2001 - Bass player with 'Way of Life', later to be a regular member of 'Fairport Convention'.
Source: Mick Bonham Book


Q: You have said, you had heard about John before, but when did you meet him?

I met John when I joined Way of Life, with Reggie and Chris Jones. He was living in Redditch at the time in a caravan at his parents' place. I had this purple painted Renault van I bought off Chris' dad Percy and it wouldn't have a problem going anywhere except to Redditch. Whenever it went to Redditch the bonnet would lift up. John didn't drive then, and I used to drive him home after the gigs. There was a hill on the way back to Redditch, and every time we went down it the bonnet would fly up. The first time it happened I thought shit, the lights have gone. I drove him home most nights, and most nights very happy, but probably over the limit.

Q: You had a lot of gear, did you get it all in the Renault?

It was a struggle, but John later got Matt to be roadie and he would drive. At the end of the night we'd get our money (our £15) and Matt would get his share, £3. Then we'd siphon off some petrol to get to the next gig as nobody wanted to part with his cash.

Q: It was reported that John always wanted to push his drums to the front to get noticed. Was that before or after Way Of Life?

I only ever played with John in Way Of Life and he never had to push his drums to the front, because he was so fucking loud the way he played them. It was the loudest drum kit in the world, it was unbelievable. It was the way he tuned the kit, no one else could actually do that to get that bass drum sound, it was phenomenal, you've heard it on all the records, a classic drum sound. we only played about 20 gigs, everywhere we could in the Midlands, most of the time we only played the first half because the promoter would tell us we were too loud and would have to go.

Q: You only played 20 gigs?

About 20 altogether and I remember John and me going to collect the money after the tour, from the agents [Carlton John's] in Wake Green Road. These were the people who run Mother's Club at the time and we got nothing. Mother's was the place to play, Johnny Haynes ran the place, a nice guy who went on to have a great studio, buy at that time it was very primitive. Johnny told Bonzo he was unrecordable and should go back to hod carrying for a living. The problem was that he was just too loud, and the equipment he'd got could not cope with the bass drum input level on his mixing desk. When John hit the bass drum it was like the heavens had opened.

Q: So why did you break up in the end, was it the lack of venues to play?

We broke up because nobody would book us, as we were too loud. There were some classic examples, like the Top Spot in Ross-On-We, they had a traffic light system on stage. Bands used to carry their own PA but only for their vocals, you never amplified the guitars or drums through it. Bonzo only hit his bass drum once, and it immediately went too red, returning the power off. This was before we'd played a number.

Q: When you did split up did you keep in touch with Bonzo?

I became a big Zeppelin fan. I joined Fairport Convention, and John and the guys would come and see us as they were quite into the folksy type thing. Sandy sang on their fourth album (Battle of Evermore). We went to see Zeppelin at the Locarno, Coventry when there was a bomb scare, everyone left the building except Robert, who was saying, "What's the matter with you all?" They were a great band, and I was pleased John had got a proper job. I got oak paneling and gold bathroom fittings, it was like walking around Rackhams. Outside there were his cars parked, and one time his neighbours complained about his Bentley parked round in an old Ford Anglia Estate. He gave me a copy of their first Zeppelin album, which I played on my old Dansette (before the days of stereo) and it sounded absolutely fantastic. Then it was come on, we're off to Welwyn Garden City to see the band. What a great night that was. The next gig I went to see John, he had got a gold Jaguar and Robert had got one too. I thought, what fantastic cars and both were complaining about a bit of noise coming from somewhere. The cars I was used to driving were all noisy.

Q: Knebworth 4 August 1979

Fairport were the opening act and the only act to get paid. We actually go paid for, which was quite amazing really. Yes Zeppelin got paid buy there were a lot of others who didn't get paid. It was quite scary for us as the opening act, and we were supposed to play for an hour. We decided to play our up-tempo stuff. We were shitting ourselves - it was a sea of painted faces out there waiting for Zeppelin to go on. After 45 mins we ran out of numbers and Tommy Vance shouted over, "Hey, they're really liking this, can you do another half an hour?" So we just played them all again, and got away with it 'cause we got paid.

Q: How would you like to sum up the times spent with John?

Well, he was one of my mates. I have happy memories of John and I never had bad times with him at all. We were good buddies, we had great, great times, and he's sorely missed. He was never shy of buying a round of drinks, even when he had no money, and would always take his turn to siphon petrol, in fact it was him who taught me how to do it, but the first one he showed me, was diesel.