A new book by Danny Goldberg, once a publicist for rock legends Led Zeppelin describes the group’s drummer, John “Bonzo” Bonham as someone who was known to exhibit some undesirable traits while drinking.
Goldberg, in his new book, Bumping Into Geniuses, refers to an incident where Bonham confronted a music critic, grabbed him by the lapels and screamed, “Look, I’ve had about enough of you people!” I suspect Goldberg relates more incidents of a similar nature in the upcoming book to support the assertion that Bonham was an “angry, mean drunk.”
I don’t doubt Goldberg’s assertions regarding Bonham’s behavior at all. Putting aside the whole “rock star” thing, and their reputation (sometimes deserved, sometimes not) for outlandish behavior, I have little difficulty believing that Bonham behaved as described.
Personal experience has demonstrated to me on numerous occasions that there are at least two types of alcoholics. Those who become your best friend and seem willing to jump off a bridge to please you when they are drinking, and those that might rather sock you in the nose as the result of a minor disagreement over the color of the carpet.
It would be wrong to interpret this article — and perhaps Goldberg’s comments — as a slam against Bonham. I have personally known people who are as peaceful and personable as anyone you might meet who seem to undergo a type of Jekyll-And-Hyde transformation that turns them into someone willing to start throwing punches with the slightest provocation.
Furthermore, after years of speculation about alcoholism being a disease, as I have matured and endured some experiences of my own, I have come to believe that alcoholism is indeed something that can easily take over the lives of those who are predisposed to that condition. A condition which is no fault of their own any more than being born with blue eyes or brown hair.
To quash speculation about this writer, the above is not an indication that I have had problems with alcohol. Fortunately for me, I seem to have inherited my father’s genes where that condition is concerned, and drink very rarely indeed. In my younger days, I will admit to a tendency which led me more easily in directions that could lead to physical confrontations while drinking, making it easier to understand Bonham’s alleged behavior. In my own defense, however, those incidents can easily be classified as few and far between.
Anyway, enough about me, since I am not well-known as someone who has made any significant contribution to classic rock. I merely wanted to make it clear that my reporting of this story is not a slam against Bonham.
Goldberg’s book is due for release next month, and might well be a good read for Zeppelin fans who might want to gain a bit more insight regarding the inner workings of the group during their days on the top.
For more on this story and some Led Zeppelin photos, visit GigWise.