The late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s son, Jason Bonham, recently spoke with The Vinyl Guide podcast about his father’s lingering musical legacy, which may include a box of antiquated recordings that have yet to be released.
According to Bonham, his father didn’t enjoy listening to music at home and only had a Revox two-track machine for him to use when he got home from the recording studio. The drummer voiced worry over the condition of the recordings and said that he would need to bake them at low temperatures in order to restore their playability. In order to preserve the information on the U-Matic cassettes, he also stated that the Knebworth concert’s mixing technique involved baking the tapes.
The drummer told The Vinyl Guide, “Believe it or not, Dad didn’t like to play at all at home, He had no recording equipment. We’ve got his old Revox two-track and that was literally just to be able to play mixes when he came back from the studio. They’d make another reel [for listening].”
He continued, “I know I found a whole bunch, a box of tapes – reel-to-reels – at home, last time I was there, But I need to get the machine up and running and hook it up, which… I’ll save that for YouTube, like, ‘Let’s get this thing up and running. Let’s find out if we’ve got anything that hasn’t even been released yet.'”
The lack of labeling on the reels, according to Bonham, was “the best of it,” but he was concerned that the cassettes could have degraded with time. “You put them in the machine and it just erases them the moment you press start.”
Led Zeppelin fans are thrilled by Bonham’s find and ready to hear any previously unreleased songs from the renowned band. It’s still unclear, though, if the cassettes include brand-new Led Zeppelin songs or simply unheard versions of their catalog.
In the interview, Bonham also discussed the particulars of a little jam session that he hosted with Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones at his wedding in 1990. He acknowledged that the performance had not been planned in the slightest and that, had he known it would occur, he would have made sure his own drums were there. Bonham also made light of the fact that he would have abstained from alcohol the entire evening if he had known the performance would take place.
“I think they had to do that when they were doing the Knebworth mixing, They only had the U-matic tapes and they had to bake the tape to preserve what was on there,” he said.
“If we would have planned it, I definitely would have made sure that my drums were onstage and not somebody else’s,” he said. “I probably would have stayed a lot more sober if I’d have known that was going to go on at the end of the night.”
For fans of the band, the chance of discovering previously unreleased Led Zeppelin recordings is wonderful news. Although it’s yet unknown what the cassettes contain, Bonham’s discovery has reignited interest in the band’s past and in their music. The expectation alone will rekindle the fervor of Led Zeppelin fans all across the world, regardless of whether the tapes are made public or not.