Jason Bonham is sharing a side of his late, drum legend father that Led Zeppelin fans never had a chance to see.
"Everybody knows the stories about dad as Bonzo, the wild character who threw TV sets out of the windows of hotel rooms," Bonham said of his father, John Bonham. "Nobody knows about him as the sweet and quiet man who would get up at 6:30 in the morning and make me breakfast and drive me five hours to one of my motocross events."
Through music, video footage and storytelling, "Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience" celebrates the musical legacy -- and softer side -- of John Bonham. Also a drummer, Jason Bonham brings his show to Jones Beach and PNC Bank Arts Center.
The performance features Bonham's band performing Led Zeppelin favorites and back catalog gems as home video footage of father and son is shown on a screen above the stage. John Bonham died at age 32 in 1980, when his son was 14.
Between songs, Bonham shares family stories and talks about growing up with Led Zeppelin. "Every show sparks a different memory," he said. "I wanted to get across how much I loved him and how great I think he was."
Bonham debuted the Led Zeppelin Experience in 2010. He said he asked for and received the blessing of surviving Zeppelin members Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (vocals) and John Paul Jones (bass) to use the band name on the marquee. Bonham has shared the stage with Plant, Page and Jones three times, most recently in 2007 at a one-off reunion concert in London.
"For Led Zeppelin to allow me to use the name, it's not taken lightly," Bonham said. "I was in tears when they gave me the go- ahead."
The show's high point features Bonham playing along, musically and visually, to footage of his father performing his signature drum solo, "Moby Dick." With the aide of a television monitor mounted to his drum kit, Bonham mirrors his father's every move, from the timing of each note to the way he holds his drumsticks, as a synchronized, split-screen duet plays out above the stage.
Another surreal moment comes when video footage is shown of Jason as a child playing on a miniature drum kit as his father, then in his twenties, cheers him on.
"Now I'm the old man," said Bonham, 46, "and he's the young kid."
Following Heart's headlining set, Bonham will return to the stage to jam with the newly minted Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famers for a 30- minute set of Zeppelin tunes.
Jason Bonham met Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson in December when Led Zeppelin was feted at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington. The Wilson sisters, heavily influenced by Zeppelin, performed with Bonham on a stirring rendition of "Stairway to Heaven."
"The songs that they're choosing aren't just the standards," he said. "They're also experimenting with some more obscure songs, the harder songs to play musically. It's going to be phenomenal."
WHO: Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, opening for Heart.
IN TOWN: 7:30 p.m. July 2, PNC Bank Arts Center, Garden State Parkway, exit 116, Holmdel; 732-203-2500 or artscenter.com. $25 to $141.
ALSO PERFORMING: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, 1000 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh, N.Y.; 866-558-8468 or jonesbeach.com. $25 to $150.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: jasonbonham.net.
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