JASON BONHAM Looks Back On Performing With HEART At KENNEDY CENTER HONORS: 'It Was Very Special'
January 9, 2021
Back in December 2012, HEART's Ann and Nancy Wilson delivered a moving rendition of "Stairway To Heaven", LED ZEPPELIN's signature song, at the Kennedy Center Honors. They were joined by Jason Bonham, son of original drummer John and the drummer for LED ZEPPELIN's 2007 reunion show. Their version of the track gradually grew to include a string section, a horde of backup singers and the Joyce Garrett Youth Choir. Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones sat watching from the balcony and were visibly moved, particularly Plant, who had tears welling up in his eyes.
Jason reflected on the experience of performing for ZEPPELIN members in a new interview with Radio Forrest. Asked if it was a surprise to them that he was playing with HEART at the Kennedy Center Honors, he said (hear audio below): "It was definitely a surprise at that event. That's why you see their reaction. It was, like, 'You! What are you doing…?' I was hiding out.
"They don't usually honor the deseased member of the band," he continued. "But [it was] very special, the way the whole thing was put together.
"At the time, it wasn't gonna be Ann and Nancy — it was gonna be somebody else — and said, 'I want people who love the band to be doing it, if we're gonna do this song.' So I was so pleased that they got involved.
"It was very special," he repeated.
LED ZEPPELIN's December 10, 2007 performance during the Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert was chronicled on the band's 2012 "Celebration Day" CD and DVD. The set, which featured Jason subbing for his late father on drums, marked Plant, Page and Jones's first full-scale show together since John Bonham's 1980 death.
After the the O2 Arena concert, Page and Jones were looking for a way to keep working and tried out several singers, including AEROSMITH's Steven Tyler and ALTER BRIDGE's Myles Kennedy.
The option for a three-quarter ZEPPELIN reunion ended when Jones accepted an offer to form THEM CROOKED VULTURES with Dave Grohl and Josh Homme. Page later said: "I guess that was a pretty definitive statement."