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Jason Bonham gets his Led out
Five years ago, Jason Bonham launched his Led Zeppelin Experience "as a one-time deal."
But, the son of Zep's late drummer John Bonham acknowledges, "it became way more than I ever imagined it was gonna become."
Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience is the ultimate tribute to his dad's old band, with plenty of credibility; besides the geneology, Bonham played with Led Zeppelin at the 1988 Atlantic Records 40th anniversary concert in New York city and at the group's 2007 reunion at the O2 Arena in London. He's also recorded and toured with guitarist Jimmy Page.
These days it exits as "something I like to do when I'm not doing my other things," meaning about 30 shows per year filled with Led Zep favorites and archival video material. But Bonham is the first to distance himself from being any sort of Led Zep substitute.
"I don't every put myself in that. I just really enjoy going out and having a bit of fun," Florida resident Bonham, 49, explains by phone from a tour stop in San Jose, Calif. "I feel so distant from the real part of Led Zeppelin that this is just fun. The fact I've played with them and grown up there is great, but I still find it hard to put the two together.
"We're just fans like everybody else, me and the guys in the (Experience) band. I try not to compare the two or even put us in the same league."
This has been a big year for Zep fans, of course, with Page rolling out expanded deluxe editions of the group's albums. Bonham says those have been instructive and illuminating for him as well, which has had an effect on this year's Led Zeppelin Experience repertoire.
"I started listening to everything with great detail, which has been a lot of fun," he says. "So we've started digging deeper and playing songs we haven't done, or that we haven't done in awhile. There's nothing sacred. I don't steer clear form anything. We'll try anything. I always find that you've got to represent every album for it to really work, and there's also two or three on every album that I really like, so it's a difficult path in choosing."
Bonham has plenty going on beyond the Experience these days -- primarily The Circle, an all-star group with Sammy Hagar, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and guitarist Vic Johnson from Hagar's Wabos band. The group has toured during the past two years and has released a live album and DVD, and it plans to be more active in 2016, including writing and recording some original material.
Meanwhile, he's waiting for word from both Page, who's said he plans to record new solo material and tour next year, and possibly Phil Collins, who's announced his own intention to tour. Collins tapped Bonham to play during exploratory rehearsals in 2014, which the drummer says was "an honor."
"We got together for three weeks and I had an amazing time," Bonham recalls. "He's one of my real heroes. Other than my dad I would say Phil is probably my No. 2 guy to go-to. I've been a huge fan.
"I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but my social media blew up after (Collins) started talking about it -- 'You've been holding out on us. You ARE gonna work wtih Phil Collins!' Even Sammy called me and said, 'Is there something you need to tell me?' But I really don't know yet. We'll have to see."
Jason Bonaham's Led Zeppelin Experience
Saturday, Dec. 12. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.
Tickets are $25-$75.
Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.
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