Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jason Bonham to recreate Zep music, tell band history on tour; effect on Bonamassa-Hughes-Sherinian 'supergroup' unknown

Jason Bonham is set to announce very shortly his participation with a concert tour that will essentially tell the story of Led Zeppelin from start to finish from his perspective, has learned. The drummer is planning to tour the United States and Canada later this year with a multimedia event dubbed "Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience."

While specific concert dates and locations have yet to be announced, the tour is said to feature Bonham on drums alongside other professional musicians who will replicate the Led Zeppelin sound. As a backdrop to the music, each concert is to feature an elaborate video screen onstage to make the Led Zeppelin story come alive to make Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience come alive.

Update: Edits made above are in line with public comments Bonham made on his Facebook page at the end of the day in response to the numerous reports about the tour. Bonham writes:
"Well looks like the cat is out of the bag ! First off I would like to correct the news that broke today on the world wide web !I read today that I would be performing the Led Zep story ! Well , what I will be doing is 30 shows in memory of my father as its 30 years since he left this world this September 25th 2010 ...  I have always loved playing the music of Led Zeppelin and after such a great night back in 2007 at the 02 Arena I took an opportunity to do a very special show which would look at my life with the music of Led Zeppelin. Old photos,home movies, videos , would help take you on a journey into my life, from my earliest memories right up to the 02 show ."
For Led Zeppelin fans, Bonham's sudden announcement marks a sharp turnaround as the drummer's primary focus so far this year has been readying new music created with a supergroup that was to be called Black Country.

While that band did make one live appearance last month, playing a two-song set during the encores of a show by guitarist Joe Bonamassa, the status of this so-called "supergroup" came into question publicly only last week when the producer of their album wrote online that the band appeared ready to implode before even getting off the ground.

Bonham's Unrealized Led Zeppelin Dreams

This year is already seeing Robert Plant on tour with a new album on the wayJimmy Page releasing his first-ever book and promising new music, and John Paul Jones completing a world tour with Them Crooked Vultures. "Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience" promises to be the closest any one of them will come to a Led Zeppelin tour 30 years after the original group's demise.

The 43-year-old son of the late John Bonham is already used to playing Led Zeppelin's music. One of his past touring lineups, the Jason Bonham Band, released a CD in 1997 called In the Name of My Father -- The ZepSet. It was a collection of Led Zeppelin cover songs released as a charity benefit. This was nearly a decade after the first time he sat in with Led Zeppelin's surviving members in a reunion setting. Bonham spent part of 1988 touring with Jimmy Page before starting his own band, simply called Bonham.

He's played for a number of bands over the years, including Foreigner from July 2004 to August 2008. In the midst of that stint, during 2007, came perhaps his highest calling as a drummer. He was asked again to rehearse with Led Zeppelin's surviving members on June 10 of that year, and little did he know he would be asked back. The others were planning a reunion concert. This led, of course, to a single Led Zeppelin reunion show, held at the O2 arena on Dec. 10, 2007, as a tribute to the late Ahmet Ertegun.

Following this were some expectations that a full-fledged Led Zeppelin tour would follow. Bonham even said recently that his mother warned him not to get his hopes up. She was right to say this, as Robert Plant eventually made known his intention not to revive Led Zeppelin again. But, of course, by that time, Bonham had quit his touring gig with Foreigner and been replaced. As stated above, rehearsals with Page and Jones -- and eventually Myles Kennedy as well -- ended prematurely and fruitlessly.

Apparently, Bonham is seeing to it that his desire to bring Led Zeppelin's songs to a wide American audience in the concert setting will not to suffer the same fate.

Inspiring This Tour

In an interview conducted just prior to the Led Zeppelin reunion concert and published in the December 2007 issue of Rythm magazine, Geoff Nichols asked Jason Bonham if he'd be playing "Moby Dick" during the Led Zeppelin show. At first, the drummer responded that he hoped not. Then, he changed his tune, saying:
"I'd be willing. I think I'd rather 'Moby Dick' came on from the DVD and I would join in with dad, on giant screens - dad one one, me on another - and I could figure out a whole section so we played together."
In January 2010, this dream became reality as Bonham attempted an onstage duet with his father appearing on a video screen behind him. This live "Moby Dick" drum solo interspersed live clips of the elder Bonham onstage with Led Zeppelin in 1970 and 1973, along with his filmed fantasy sequence for The Song Remains the Same, which is primarily made up of clips of him driving.

The live audience witnessing the Bonhams' duet was appreciative. However, the video sequence didn't go as well as he'd hoped, producer Ralph Schmidtke of Annerin Productions recently told Annerin is the production company behind "Rain, A Tribute to the Beatles," a traveling show credited as what inspired the drummer to decide on "Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience" as his next project.

The Beatles tribute show is described as this:
For more than two decades, RAIN has distinguished itself by focusing on details, always being faithful to The Beatles with the ultimate goal of delivering a perfect note-for-note performance. All the music is performed live, with no pre-recorded tapes or sequences. They approach The Beatles music with the same respect a classical musician treats classical music. They worked hard for many years, studying each song, each note, movement and nuance ... both vocally and musically. Today, they have a repertoire of over 200 Beatle songs. The members of RAIN are extraordinarily talented musicians in their own right and this becomes more evident with each show they do. RAIN audiences experience their own personal journey back to a time when Peace and Love was everyone's mantra.
Likewise, "Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience" is described as this:
Using hand picked session players to fill the roles of the original members, like Rain, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience will perform the band's material with heavy usage of video to assist in tell[ing] the history of Led Zeppelin. The show will carry you from the early days as the band discovered and shared their magical chemistry with LA scenesters at the Whiskey. Multiple set changes take you through Zeppelin's meteoric climb as you are transported to Madison Square Garden in 1973, Earls Court Arena in 1975, The Knebworth Festival in 1979 and closing with the O2 arena show where Jason joined the band for their final farewell performance.

State of the art sound, multi-media video presentation and period specific drum kits - the same ones used by John Bonham ... Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience pays tribute to his legendary father performing 30 shows in North America in the coming year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of John Bonham's passing. Feel the power that was the greatest rock band in history.
On April 13, Schmidtke told he'd been hopeful to get the tour going by the spring of 2010 but realized such an imminent launch was no longer possible. More likely, he said, a tour would be happening in the summer or fall.

Effect on Bonham's Supergroup

At this time, what effect "Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience" will have on the supergroup that assembled around him earlier this year is unknown.

In the public eye, all seemed to be going relatively well since the band's one live outing on March 17, taking place at Bonamassa's solo gig in Riverside, Calif. Because plans to use the name Black Country had been put on hold due to objections from another act by the same name, oddly, the "supergroup" appeared without being referred to by any collective name. Furthermore, a new band name would not be announced -- even uttered publicly -- until it could be printed on a copyrighted record, Bonamassa said in a recent interview with Dave Basner for VH1 Radio Networks.

The only other event reported over the past month was the completion of album recording. Last Monday, producer Kevin Shirley wrote in his online diary:
the new Glenn Hughes/Joe Bonamassa/Jason Bonham/Derek Sherinian project (formerly known as Black Country) is done and I love it! Let's see if they can get it out there soon...... And that's it for now.
Things changed rapidly as, two days later, a jarring update emerged on Shirley's Facebook page. He wrote:
The lunatics are trying to take over the asylum!
The first person to comment did so within a minute, asking Shirley, "Which lunatics?" The producer replied immediately:
The Greedy Ones!
Wed, April 21 at 8:30am
Conversation festered over the next couple of days until Shirley provided a more descriptive analysis two days later:
Black Country looks to have imploded, with a completed album in the can! We set out as friends and lovers of music, to make something special. Then the managers got involved... and kept changing their wants, ultimately demanding EVERYTHING! I can't absolve all the musicians - but one I can completely absolve, is the one who actually has a career and has just been voted Best Guitarist in the World - who was 100% open ALL the way. And he doesn't ride on anyone's coattails... see below. Maybe they'll come to their senses.... I'm not holding my breath.
Fri, April 23 at 10:40am
Little over an hour passed before Shirley offered one further update with some clarification:
OK - I have been urged to amend this - like everything on the internet, things get twisted! I believe there is a salvage operation to rescue survivors from the downed BC plane. I have just had a big conversation with Glenn, who is mortified about the situation, as he has really put his heart and soul into it. I love Glenn. Here's the salvage plan guys - everyone is equal. It's that easy. Cut out the cancer that is anyone greedy, and this thing will rock. Morality rules..... managers try to. I am mad too!!!
Fri, Apr 23 at 12:05pm
While media reports picked up on Shirley's comments and theorized about "profit splits," the producer's "salvage plan" indicated hope that there would still be life for the band. Indeed, the next two posts from lead singer and bassist Glenn Hughes on his Twitter page signaled a likely positive resolution to the dispute.

  1. Goodnite my puppies..just spoke to Kevin..we are workin' hard to deliver the greatest new Rock album of the year..we are passionate.. GH

  1. Don't worry..we have made an amazin' album...we aint splittin' up..we want everyone to hear this..GH
The new wave of good vibes continued into this week, with Shirley's Facebook page being updated to say:

Well, it appears sanity has prevailed! Thank the Stars! Look out for the BC album (or whatever it's called)...... soon!!! That's the situation this morning - watch this space!

Tue, April 27 at 12:22pm will continue to monitor the status of this supergroup and plans for "Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience" as further updates develop.

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