Led Zeppelin History – July 31

Today in 1968, a 20-year-old British carpenter and farmer by the name of John Bonham was backup drumming for American singer Tim Rose on his UK tour, when he was approached by a music manager named Peter Grant and a 24-year-old guitarist named Jimmy Page. 

The visitors were with a recently dissolved band named the Yardbirds, and went to the gig at the Hampstead Country Club upon the recommendation of a 19-year-old singer named Robert Plant, to listen to Bonham’s playing and ask if he was interested in replacing Jim McCarty as drummer for the Yardbirds. Plant, who was a friend and occasional bandmate of Bonham’s, would himself end up replacing Yardbirds singer Keith Relf.

Bonham said he would consider the job offer if he could be assured of making some serious money. Grant and Page told him not to worry. Bonham said he would think about it. Grant asked him for his phone number, and Bonham said he didn’t have a phone. Grant, probably suspicious of that, asked for a mailing address, and Bonham gave him that instead.

Then Bonham started receiving telegrams from Grant’s RAK Records office in London, asking him to respond about the offer to join the Yardbirds and start playing with them on a Scandinavian tour in September. “It seemed like a gift from heaven, you know what I mean?” Bonham once said in an interview. “I was pretty shy and I thought the best thing was not to say much but suss it all out.”  Bonham accepted the job a few weeks later.

The band toured Scandinavia that fall as the New Yardbirds, then changed their name to Led Zeppelin. The rest is history…

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