Most people are familiar with stories of The Who’s drummer Keith Moon being too inebriated to perform and even passing out on stage but did you know that Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham was also too drunk to play?
The band was playing a concert in Nurembug, Germany on June 27, 1980. Three songs into the show Bonham began to falter behind the drums. They had opened the show with “Train Kept a-Rollin’” and went into “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” At that point Bonham had trouble maintaining the proper tempos.
Realizing there was something wrong, Jimmy Page stepped up to the mic and said “There’s two of us tonight who aren’t feeling at all well…so we’re gonna’ do our best, whatever, as usual.”
The band began playing “Black Dog,” adding the introduction from “Out on the Tiles.” As you can hear below, the band is struggling to get through the song properly. Bonham’s poor playing even affected Page’s guitar solo.
As Robert Plant was introducing the next song (“In the Evening”) Bonham lost consciousness. “Hang on a tick,” Plant said to the crowd. “Just got a slight technical problem if you can bear with us. … We just have a minute problem, so if you can wait patiently, we’d be very grateful. Hang on.”
Some witnesses at the show said Bonham was so drunk he was knocking over his cymbals. Unable to regain his composure he could not play and the show had to be stopped. The show was never rescheduled. Later that year (September) Bonham would die from drinking.