William Francis 'Bill' Bonham, Jr. (27 September 1950 - 24 August 2015) was born in Birmingham, England. A member of various bands, he is known for his multi-instrumental skills in groups such as Obs-Tweedle, session work, and solo projects by Terry Reid, and Ace Kefford. He is a distant cousin of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.
Bonham grew up in the Beechdale area, where he developed his musical skills from the age of six. He attended Hydesville Tower School in Walsall and his father, William Bonham, Sr., was landlord of Three Men in a Boat public house along Stephenson Avenue in Bloxwich, which was a hub of activity for local bands in the West Midlands. At the age of eleven, Bonham learned some guitar chords from musician Noddy Holder, who was a neighbour in Gurney Road, and by 14 he was already starting to gig with local bands such as Prim 'n' Proper, Tony Dangerfield and the Thrills, Dual Purpose, and the Answer. During the first years of his career he was known as Billy Bonham. The Answer used the Three Men in a Boat as a rehearsal space before changing their name to Obs-Tweedle, with the addition of singer Robert Plant, who was lodging in an upstairs room at the venue, before he found fame with Led Zeppelin.
Bonham's multi-instrumental talents (keyboards, bass guitar, flute, clarinet, and saxophone) meant he was in demand as both a session musician and for backing touring artists, and he was soon part of Terry Reid's group after Obs-Tweedle folded, helping record his debut album (Bang Bang You're Terry Reid) until illness prevented him from touring the United States with Reid. Bonham was also a member of Spread Eagle, Hari Kari, Matthew, Sight & Sound, Faifield Ski, Kefford-Bonham, and sessioned uncredited for Procol Harum. He also studied at the Royal Academy of Music graduating at degree level. Bonham moved to the United States in 1976, and performed with Californian outfit Band of the Century, as well as writing and recording solo. He worked as a producer and recording engineer with his own studio in Brea, California.
Bonham died in Tucson, Arizona on 24 August 2015.
- Bang, Bang You're Terry Reid (1968) (with Terry Reid)
- Joynson, Vernon (2008) The Tapestry of Delights Revisited: The Comprehensive Guide to British Music of the Beat, R & B, Psychedelic and Progressive Eras 1963-1976. Rev. edn., Telford, Shropshire: Borderline Productions. ISBN 978-1-899855-15-5 (OCLC 234289233).
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