Joan Bonham

Joan Isobel Bonham (née Sargent) (4 December 1926 - 9 February 2011) was an English singer and one of the principal lead vocalists of the Zimmers. Joan Bonham was also a respected matriarch of a family of notable musicians from the West Midlands: Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham (1948 - 1980), disc jockey and writer Mick Bonham (1950 - 2000), singer-songwriter Deborah Bonham (b. 1962), and grandmother of Jason Bonham (b. 1966) and singer-songwriter Zoe Bonham (b. 1975).

Joan Bonham was born in Worcestershire. She was married to John ('Jacko') Henry Bonham, Sr. (d. 1989), who operated his father's construction company in Redditch, Worcestershire, J. H. Bonham & Son. To supplement the family income, Bonham ran a newsagent's shop in Hunt End, Redditch. An admirer of big band music such as the Benny Goodman, Harry James, and Edmundo Ros bands, her record collection influenced John Bonham's musical upbringing. At the age of ten, John received from Joan a snare drum, and he started building his kit and practising from there on.

In 2001, Bonham moved to Bognor Regis to live with her daughter Deborah Bonham and her husband Peter Bullick. In 2003, she was in attendance at the New York premiere of the Led Zeppelin DVD and at the 2007 Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert. She supported many of Deborah Bonham's concerts and celebrated her 80th birthday in December 2006 at a Deborah Bonham performance at the Bein Inn in Perth, Scotland.

Bonham participated in a television and recording project called the Zimmers. The Zimmers are a forty-member British band originally created by the BBC for a 2007 feature documentary on the conditions and feelings of the elderly, as part of the Power to the People series. They released music videos and singles for 'My Generation', 'Firestarter' and 'Old and Wise', and in September 2008, the band released its first full-length album Lust for Life. Deborah Bonham titled her 2008 solo album Duchess in her honour.

On 2 November 2009, accompanied by Deborah Bonham, she accepted the Tommy Vance Inspiration Award at the Classic Rock Awards ceremony from Paul Rodgers at the Park Lane Hotel, London, England, on behalf of John Bonham. Her last public appearance was attending Robert Plant and the Band of Joy's performance at the Birmingham Symphony Hall on 27 October 2010, with Deborah.

Joan Bonham passed away in her sleep after a short illness, in the early hours of 9 February 2011.

Discography (with the Zimmers)

Albums

  • Lust for Life (2008)

Singles

  • 'My Generation' (2007, #26 UK)
  • 'Fire Starter' (2008)

Bibliography

  • Bonham, Mick (2003) Bonham by Bonham: My Brother John. London: Icarus Publications. ISBN 978-0-9545717-0-2
  • Bonham, Mick (2005) John Bonham: The Powerhouse Behind Led Zeppelin. London: Southbank Publishing. ISBN 978-1-904915-11-9 (OCLC 61302889).
  • Welch, Chris; and Nicholls, Geoff (2001) John Bonham: a Thunder of Drums; the powerhouse behind Led Zeppelin and the Godfather of Heavy Rock Drumming. London: Hi Marketing. ISBN 978-0-87930-658-8 (OCLC 47232599).

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