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Led Zeppelin came on the music scene at the perfect time. Just as the peace and love of the 1960s started to subside, Zep’s darker and more muscular music hit the shelves. They appeared together on another artist’s album first, then released their first two records in 1969. Drummer John Bonham was an instrumental part of the band’s sound. Robert Plant recruited him for Led Zeppelin, but the singer said Bonham’s wife told him to “keep away from Plant” for one simple reason.

John Bonham (left) and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin take a break during a 1971 concert rehearsal in Hiroshima, Japan.
John Bonham (left) and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin | Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images

Robert Plant recruited John Bonham to be Led Zeppelin’s drummer

Plant and Bonham played together in Band of Joy before joining Led Zeppelin. Plant said the band’s sound included his oversinging and Bonham’s overplaying, but they forged a solid working relationship in the group.

When Led Zeppelin founder and guitarist Jimmy Page decided to add Plant as the band’s singer, Plant put in a good word for Bonham to be the drummer. With multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones already in the mix, Plant and Bonham completed the Led Zeppelin puzzle.

Joining Led Zeppelin made Bonham an international music star, but Bonham’s wife once urged him not to hang out with Plant, according to the singer.

Bonham’s wife warned him to “keep away from Plant,” according to the Led Zeppelin singer

Led Zeppelin formed quickly from the ashes of Page’s previous band, the Yardbirds. It happened so quickly that Zep was billed as the New Yardbirds at their early shows. 

Jones sized up Bonham as a capable and confident player at Led Zeppelin’s first rehearsal. Likewise, Plant knew they had something special the first time the four members of the band jammed. However, getting Bonham into the room took some work since Bonham’s wife told her husband to keep away from Plant, as the singer told Rolling Stone:

“I had suggested to Jimmy Page that the drummer that he’d lined up was just nowhere near the dynamism of — John Bonham was a totally different thing altogether. And so once John’s wife finally gave him permission to come to a rehearsal — because Pat always said, ‘Keep away from Plant, because you’re just going to end up broke and in trouble,’ — so when the two of us drove down to London in John’s mum’s van, which we borrowed, in that room … I knew that I was in a room full of giants, really, and that was it.”

Robert Plant describes the first Led Zeppelin rehearsal and why John Bonham’s wife told him to keep away from Plant

With Bonham providing a thunderous beat and complicated rhythms, Led Zeppelin became one of the biggest bands of all time. The drummer was such a crucial part of the band that they folded instead carrying on without him.

Zeppelin broke up instead of trying to continue without their drummer


Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant Wanted to Quit Music After His Son’s Tragic Death

Led Zeppelin dealt with adversity several times during their career. Plant nearly lost his leg after a car accident during a vacation. The singer’s son also died suddenly (Bonham attended the funeral; Page and Jones did not). And the band fractured into two distinct camps by the end of the 1970s.

A monumental tragedy came when Bonham died in 1980. Some bands soldier on when a member dies (The Rolling Stones toured in 2022 following drummer Charlie Watt’s death). However, Led Zeppelin chose to suddenly split in following Bonham’s death rather than continue without him.

John Bonham’s wife once warned him to keep away from Robert Plant, but he ignored that advice and joined the singer in Led Zepplein, one of the most famous bands of all time.

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