The John Bonham Memorial at Redditch in Worcestershire graces the cover of the latest issue of Tight But Loose, the Led Zeppelin fanzine published and edited by their number one fan Dave Lewis – but you will search in vain for mention of the mighty drummer on the internet pages of Worcestershire County Council devoted to Redditch, or even those of the town’s own Borough Council.
We learn that Redditch is the home of the National Needle Museum, a ruined 11th century abbey and medieval moat, and even a bingo hall, but Bonzo – arguably the town’s most famous 20th Century resident – warrants a big zero in the eyes of those charged with promoting the town’s tourist attractions. Shameful, really, especially as nearby Tamworth-in-Arden specifically promotes itself as the village where Nick Drake was raised and died, as does Bromley where David Bowie is nowadays much celebrated and as for Liverpool, well The Beatles are everywhere you look.
John Bonham takes centre stage in this latest issue of TBL, with a report from Dave on his visit to the memorial on May 31 last year, which would have been Bonzo’s 70th birthday, and interviews with the sculptor Mark Richards, who created the bronze memorial, and Deborah Bonham, John’s sister, who along with several locals fans, was instrumental in getting the project off the ground.
Unusually, perhaps, there was no grand launch for the memorial which was put in place rather furtively early last year in the middle of the night. “Doing it all in a subtle manner I think employs some of the Led Zep mystique,” says Deborah. “The fact that the statue appeared in the centre of the town without any real prior warning, for me it had that feel of the obelisk just appearing in all those photos on the Presence sleeve… that ‘here but not here’ sense of drama. I’d like to think our way of presenting the statue mirrored the old Zeppelin mystique.” A bit like the symbols on Led Zep IV and those crop circles on the box set too, I could add.
An old friend pauses before the Bonham Memorial (Pic by Mark Richards)
Perhaps that’s why Redditch council seem disinclined to promote the Bonham Memorial. They’re taking the Peter Grant approach.
Talking of whom, three pages of this TBL are devoted to an interview with Mark Blake, author of the recent Peter Grant biography, Bring It On Home, that I reviewed on Just Backdated last October (https://justbackdated.blogspot.com/2018/10/bring-it-on-home-peter-grant-led.html). Mark talks about how crucial Grant’s son and daughter, Warren and Helen, were to his research, and how he tried in vain to get some co-operation from Messrs Page, Plant and Jones. “Jimmy Page is a man who likes to have control and he would have not have been able to control what other people said about him,” he adds sagely. Accompanying the fairly frank interview is a screen grab – not used in the book – of Peter in an episode of the BBC comedy Citizen James starring veteran wise-cracker Sid James, that was screened on December 6, 1960. It was a non-speaking part but anyone keen to see what Peter Grant looked like at 25, slim and with hair, is directed to this fascinating shot.
Elsewhere there’s a report of a Robert Plant concert in Paris in which six of the 13 songs performed hark back to his old band, Dave waxing lyrical about his book Evenings With Led Zeppelin, which I edited for him, and the usual retrospective analysis of Led Zeppelin shows, tapes, records and bootlegs. And, as ever, there’s back cover pix of readers from around the world – Berlin, Canton, Naples, Toronto, New York and Cropredy in this issue – pledging their allegiance to what is unquestionably the best informed and most lovingly produced Led Zep fanzine anywhere, or – to the best of my knowledge – on any other band for that matter.