Jason Bonham Signs With UTA, Talks Honoring His Father's Led Zeppelin Legacy
After being asked constantly about another Led Zeppelin reunion, Jason Bonham has a ready answer -- just don't think about it, and maybe it will happen.
"Y'know, back in 2004 I finally let go," Bonham -- who filled his late father's spot in Zep for the 1988 Atlantic Records 40th anniversary show in New York and the 2007 concert in London -- tells Billboard. "I said to myself, 'Don't ever think it's gonna happen. Don't in the back of your mind ever think something's gonna happen. Let it go. Don't have that little flutter of hope in your stomach or whatever.' And then when I let it go what happens? I get a call in 2007. So all I'll say is 'I'm gonna let it go.' As far as I know, nothing's gonna happen, but if I let it go, you never know."
Since 2010, of course, Bonham has been doing his bit for the family business with his popular Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, a multi-media touring show that mixes his band's rendition of Zep favorites -- often going deep into the group's catalog -- with rare home video footage and a virtual drum solo duet with his father. Bonham has just signed a worldwide representation deal with United Talent Agency (UTA), which will handle all of the drummer's music interests, including the Led Zeppelin Experience show.
"At the time of putting the show together I wasn't overly keen on doing it because I had just played with the real boys," recalls Bonham. "When you look at it on paper you go, 'Really? The son of the drummer's gonna go out and play Led Zeppelin music?' I didn't ever want to tarnish what they did." Nevertheless it's proven to be a popular project that the other Led Zeppelin members have endorsed.
"As the first run went on I realized this was way more than my story," says Bonham, who also toured with Zep guitarist Jimmy Page in 1988, was a member of Foreigner from 2004-08 and is part of the all-star Black Country Communion and Sammy Hagar's Circle. "Everyone came to me with their stories about what Led Zeppelin meant to them, from sad stories to, 'I saw them back in the day and I don't remember much about it 'cause I was so high, and I brought my kid with me who brought a kid with him...' They've very much accepted me as being part of the family."
There's a sobering difference as he performs the shows now, however. "When I do that 'Moby Dick' solo with my dad during the shows, I have to remember I'm double his age now," the younger Bonham notes with a laugh. "I'm 50 and he's, like, 25 [in the video]. I'm sucking for air a little bit at the end of it, as you can imagine."
Bonham has also enjoyed hearing some of the family's sonic "pictures" during the recent past via the Jimmy Page-curated Led Zeppelin reissue series. "There was [unreleased] stuff on there I thought I would've heard but I hadn't," he says. "It's always hard to hear the alternate versions of the songs that weren't quite as good as the originals, but it's nice to see the process of how they got from A to B. Jimmy never used to like to share that part -- it's giving your secrets away, in certain way. Being able to listen to that, you can really hear the creative side of that band, which is very, very cool indeed."
Bonham's current Led Zeppelin Experience tour runs through Dec. 21, and his next order of business is joining Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes and Derek Sherinian for a fourth Black Country Communion album, a follow-up to 2012's Afterglow after a short break owing to conflicts over schedules and touring plans.
"I love the creative side of that band," Bonham says. "So when Joe reached out to us and said, 'Listen, it's been awhile. Let's do this again,' I was very open. I've missed that because I haven't been doing a lot of original stuff lately, I love playing the music I get to play, but there's a part of me that loves to create, and I'm looking forward to doing that again."
Bonham is also fired up about seeing his friend and mentor Phil Collins hit the road again in 2017. Bonham was Collins' rehearsal drummer during 2014 while he was contemplating a return to performing, and while Collins' son Nicholas will be taking that spot for the upcoming dates, Bonham has nothing but positive feelings about the situation.
"When I was playing with Phil, Nick was in the studio quite a few days and actually played on my drums, and I'm so pleased he's actually chosen Nick and is giving him a chance to get out there and play in that environment," Bonham says. "That's the stuff you need when you're young. It's like when Jimmy took me on the road when I was 19, playing for him and traveling. It's great. Phil is one of my neighbors; He lives down in Miami, not far from me, and I'm very pleased for him. I was so happy with the time I got to spend with him playing that music, and it's a wonderful opportunity for his son."