Rock 'n Roll Roulette
Fast paced, rapid fire, and unedited
Like Father Like Son, yet the Song does not Remain the Same
At age 5, Jason could play a basic drum kit with skill. By age 17 he joined the band, Air Race. The group signed a record contract with Atlantic Records, recorded one album, and opened for big names like Queen, MeatLoaf, Ted Nugent, and AC/DC. John Bonham died in 1980, but Jason, is creating his own music, and keeping his father's memory and music with Led Zeppelin alive.
In 1988, Jason took his father's spot in the televised, first-ever Led Zeppelin reunion at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert, which included Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones. Later that year. he toured with Page and they recorded the album Outrider.
By 1989, he completed the album, The Disregard of Timekeeping, in his new band called "Bonham". One of the tracks from this first effort, "Wait for You," earned him a gold record. By 1992, with partners like Canadian vocalist Daniel MacMaster, guitarist Ian Hatton, and bassist and keyboardist John Smithson, Bonham finished another album: Mad Hatter.
Jason teamed up with greats like Paul Rodgers, Slash, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck and others in 1993 to work on a Tribute to Muddy Waters album. The record's success brought a nomination for a Grammy Award. A year later, Jason, along with Rodgers and Slash, appeared at the memorable Woodstock II. That same year, he recorded a new album, Peace 4 Me, in his group now known as Motherland with Marti Frederksen on vocals.
In May 1990, Jason married Jan Charteris, in Stone, Kidderminster in a wedding reception that included a jam with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones.
Jason represented his father when Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame in January 1995, with his sister Zoe by his side. He soon put together another solo project which culminated in "In the Name of My Father - The Zepset" CD, featuring the songs of Led Zeppelin. Proceeds from the album went to charity. The album followed up with When You See the Sun.
Jason has also appeared in the film Rock Star which starred Mark Wahlberg. Following an album with Debbie Bonham, the younger sister of John Bonham, Jason was invited to drum for Hard Rock group, UFO. In 2006, he also recorded with Joe Bonamassa.
On December 10th, 2007, Jason played drums in the most anticipated concert of all time - the Led Zeppelin Reunion at London's O2 arena, with surviving members Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant. It was a gift to be able to speak to him on this day:
By Kreig Marks, February 2022
KM: Last song you remember listening to?
JB: "Dead Inside" by Nita Strauss and David Draiman. Cool song. Nita's a heck of a guitarist.
KM: First impression of Sammy Hagar?
JB: The guy is about 20 years older than me, and has this incredible head of curly hair. Bastard! LOL In case you haven't noticed, I'm not the most hairy- headed guy.
KM: LOL, no worries. Welcome to the follically challenged club!
JB: Follically challenged. A politically correct way to say "bald guy!" Love it!
KM: Fondest childhood memory of your dad?
JB: Those times when he was not on tour and he was home, and we got to hang out. Those were the great moments.
KM: What you would say to your dad now if you could?
JB: Hmm. What would I say to my dad? I'd tell him I miss him, and how I wish he could have met his grandchildren. He'd be very proud of both of them.
KM: As a kid, was it tough to make friends, not knowing if they were your friends because of you or because of who your dad was?
JB: Nah, not really. I think it's been tougher as an adult, actually. Kids, especially when they're little, aren't impressed by things like that. Yeah, there were some who were like, "Your dad is in Led Zeppelin?" But, for the most part, my friends were and are from school, and just from growing up. With adults, it's a lot more difficult to make friends because of the "celebrity" factor. Kids, always know who your true friends are! Lol.
KM: Was it natural to become a drummer?
JB: Yeah, I think so. I've always loved playing the drums, the sound, the power. I started very young, around the age of 4. Obviously, my dad had a little to do with that, but I loved the drums from the start. If my dad played the trumpet instead of the drums, I still think I would have gravitated to the drums.
KM: Meant to be. Your greatest thrill performing live?
JB: The 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, celebrating the music of Led Zeppelin. I was the drummer for Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. We played "Stairway to Heaven." That was the thrill of a lifetime.
KM: I watched that live. That was one of those moments, where it felt like the whole world tuned in to watch. It was surreal and all of you together, it was incredible! Ann Wilson's vocals were amazing.
JB: Yeah, she's always had an incredible voice, still does. Since Robert doesn't want to do any Zep reunions, if anyone could join John and Jim and do it justice, my vote goes to Ann.
KM: No doubt! Are you close to Robert and John and Jimmy?
JB: Oh yeah. They're family. Always have been, always will. They're my other fathers, or like Uncles.
KM: Do any of them or have any of them ever given you advice about your career?
JB: John is the consummate professional musician's professional. He is an amazing bassist and has given me so much advice over the years about rhythm. Robert is the chameleon. He can go from hard rock to country to jazz to classical in an instant. He's always told me to keep an open mind when it comes to music, to learn the history and create my own. Jimmy is the one who's given me a lot of business advice about promoting myself, my music, investments, things of that nature. I just really respect and appreciate all of them more than you can imagine.
KM: Are you disappointed your son Jager isn't a drummer?
JB: Yes! I've banished him from the house! LOL Honestly, I've always stood by my kids decisions in whatever they enjoy and want to do in life. Jager is quite a singer and composer. I see a bright career in music for him if he chooses to go in that direction and I'm here as a proud pop to support him fully.
KM: Ha, your proudest moment as a musician.
JB: I'd say when I've had the opportunity to perform as The Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Evening, and honoring the music of them and my dad.
KM: Great. Proudest moment as a man?
JB: Proudest moment as a man? Hmm. Did you think up these questions? LOL. Proudest moment as a man, I'd say just being able to live my life doing what I love and supporting my family. Oh, and being able to donate to charities. That is an honor and privilege.
KM: It's important. Proudest moment as a father.
JB: From the first time I set eyes on my daughter and son, that is a feeling I'll never forget, and every time I see them, and get to be with them, and talk with them, and see the amazing people they've grown up to be. That makes me very proud.
KM: I know about that feeling. Craziest fan interaction?
JB: To avoid any self-incrimination, I can't discuss that. LOL Man, there's been a lot. But, for the most part, the fans are really cool, and are there to show love and support; although every now and then you get a request to sign a body part or 2. LOL.
KM: LOL! The infamous Led Zeppelin Mud Shark story. True?
JB: I've signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I'm not at liberty to discuss. LOL. Next question.
KM: As a kid, was your house always full of Rock Stars? When did you first realize your dad was this huge Rock Star, in the biggest Rock band in the world?
JB: There were quite a few, I won't lie.
KM: Care to mention any names?
JB: You know, there were a lot of them around. Ringo, Eric. Yeah, a lot of the Rock scene was at my home, but I wasn't really in tune with that until my early teens. To me, these people were just family friends.
KM: Your thoughts on the direction that music is headed?
JB: I'm a huge fan of music altogether. I love the creativity in music. I don't necessarily listen to everything, but I am a big fan of music. I see it evolving all the time and mutating. Do I wish the artists got more financial support these days? Sure. But, if you're only in music to become filthy rich, you're in it for the wrong reasons. Sure, it's great to be able to make a great living doing what I love, but just being able to do what I do all the time is a privilege and a thrill.
KM: When you're in your car, what stations are locked in on the radio?
JB: All of 'em! Well, I don't listen to politics and that stuff, but all the music stations are there.
KM: You and your wife Jan have been married since 1990. What's the secret to a successful Rock 'n Roll marriage?
JB: Lots of sex! LOL. My wife is fantastic, I'm only there as a prop. Lol. Yes, lots of sex to MY music, music that I'VE written and recorded! There, you've got the ego coming out of me now! In all seriousness, we truly love and respect each other and trust each other. We share a lot of the same likes and dislikes, but we're both independent people too. But my God, have you seen my wife, Jan? She's gorgeous, very smart, great personality, kind, a great wife, a great mom, a great friend. I won the lottery when she married me!
KM: That's awesome. "Stairway to Heaven," the greatest rock song of all time?
JB: You know, I'd say it's a toss up between that, and an old ditty, "Afternoon Delight." A,a,a,a,a.....A,a,a a,..... Afternoon Delight!
KM: I think I just vomited in my mouth.
JB: Hey, I said that without laughing!
KM: If your dad were alive, what do you think he'd be most proud of about you?
JB: I've been asked that before and yeah, he would be very proud. My dad was a great guy, the life of the party. John called him "Animal." But, pop could also be quiet and reserved. He was a good listener, believe it or not. But, he loved life and loved living it every second. He'd be proud of me, my career, my kids. He'd be a very proud old codger!
KM: He definitely would be! Thanks Jason. This has been beyond an honor. Thanks for sharing about your music, your dad and Led Zeppelin.
JB: Thanks for having me here for some Roulette!
Kreig Marks, Publisher / Founder TRR
Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
Rock music has always been his passion, and promoting musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.