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Tony Iommi recalls John Bonham’s incredible resistance to alcohol

Tony Iommi
Photos from Tony Iommi and John Bonham's Instagram

Classic Rock

Tony Iommi recalls John Bonham’s incredible resistance to alcohol

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi recalled in an interview with BBC Radio (Transcribed by Ultimate Guitar) the incredible resistance to alcohol that the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham had, especially in the night before Iommi got married.


Tony Iommi recalls John Bonham’s incredible resistance to alcohol:

he was my best man, we used to go to clubs a lot together. He was another story. My stag night, we went out in Birmingham to different clubs, and the last club, we ended up with was at closing time, at 1:30 in the morning.”

“We walked in, and John Bonham said, ‘Twelve bottles of champagne on the bar! Open them all and pour all twelve of them.’ And I thought he was treating everybody in the club. I said, ‘What are you doing?’

“He said, ‘It’s for you!’ ‘I’m not gonna drink that!’ He said, ‘Go on, you gotta drink it, you’re getting married tomorrow!’ I said, ‘I’m not gonna turn up if I drink that!’ So I had one glass and he just went in the line drinking them!

He continued:

“And he was paralytic, I had to take him home at the end of the night. We had a driver take us, got to his house, his wife wouldn’t let him in because he was drunk and it was such an ordeal. She was pressing the gate, ‘He’s not coming in!’ And eventually, she opened the gate and we got in. And she opened the front door saying, ‘He is not coming upstairs!’

“I said, ‘I’m getting married in the morning, he’s gotta be there.’ She said, ‘He can sleep downstairs.’ So I put him against the radiator and said, ‘You’re not gonna turn up tomorrow, are you?’ And he stuck his thumb up as if to say yeah. I asked, ‘Are you alright there?’

“He mumbled and I left him there. Sure enough, the next morning, bloody hell, I lived about 30 miles from him, and he turned up to my house before I even got up the next morning! I couldn’t believe it! He was up, ready to go, suited up, everything! Unbelievable.”

John Bonham’s death

On 24 September 1980, Bonham was picked up by Led Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray Studios for a tour of North America, to begin 17 October in Montreal, Canada – the band’s first since 1977.

During the journey, Bonham asked to stop for breakfast, where he drank four quadruple vodka screwdrivers (16 shots between 400 and 560 ml, also equivalent to 9–13 American standard drinks). He then continued to drink heavily after arriving at rehearsals.

The band stopped rehearsing late in the evening and then went to Page’s house, the Old Mill House in Clewer, Windsor. After midnight on 25 September, Bonham fell asleep; someone took him to bed and placed him on his side. Led Zeppelin tour manager Benji LeFevre and John Paul Jones found him unresponsive the next afternoon. Bonham was later pronounced dead at 32 years old.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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