Like many important bands, Led Zeppelin existed for a little more than a decade but it was enough to change the course of music completely. Formed by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham, the band showed how heavy Rock could be and it was an inspiration for countless generations of artists. They also became one of the best-selling groups of all time with an estimated amount of 200 to 300 million records sold worldwide.
However, their career was cut short after their drummer John Bonham tragically passed away in 1980 at the age of 32. The remaining members decided that they couldn’t go on without him because he was one of the most important elements of their sound and songwriting. The band’s famous manager Peter Grant agreed with that as he told Classic Rock magazine in 1990.
Why the famous Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant said they couldn’t continue after the tragic death of John Bonham
Born in South Norwood, London in 1935, Peter Grant is one of the most famous managers in the history of Rock and Roll. He was Zeppelin’s manager from their inception until their breakup in 1980, but had already worked as the tour manager for acts like Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent and The Animals before. After Zeppelin’s success when the band created their own label Swan Song, he was also their record executive.
Five years before his death in 1995 at the age of 60, Grant talked with Classic Rock about the death of his friend John Bonham. He recalled that he heard the news via telephone at the time. Also that he already knew that the group shouldn’t continue with him. It was something impossible, because the magic would only happen with all four together.
“No! (They couldn’t continue). It’s as clean cut as that. There was no question of it. Never any thought. The group went off to Jersey and they made their mind up. We met in the Savoy Hotel and I said: ‘It can’t be.’ It wasn’t a case of sitting down and: ‘What do you think we should do?’ It was (bangs his fist on the table), and that was it. And that’s how it should stay!
Led Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant and the drummer John Bonham having a drink pic.twitter.com/ASIU9Tb2CM
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“It could never be the same. It was those four people. They were Led Zeppelin. The music and the mind – singular – of Led Zeppelin was those four people. When those four guys were on stage… total magic. That it could never be the same has been proved. That bloody Live Aid thing,” Peter Grant said.
The Live-Aid reunion mentioned by Grant featured Phil Collins on drums. Nowadays even Jimmy Page recognizes it wasn’t the right choice. After that there was a “half-reunion” when Jimmy Page and Robert Plant recorded and toured together.
The band reunited again in 2007 in London, playing a full show to honor the famous record executive Ahmet Ertegun. For that concert they had Bonham’s son Jason Bonham on drums. Since then they ruled out any form of reunion although Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones showed interest in the past. They even considered going out with another singer after the 2007 reunion.