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Revisiting That Time John Bonham Collapsed During a Led Zeppelin Concert

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On June 27, 1980, John Bonham derailed a Led Zeppelin concert when he collapsed after only three songs. The show took place at the Messezentrum Halle in Nurembug, Germany.¬†They opened with “Train Kept a-Rollin'” and went into “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” According to The Year of Led Zeppelin, that’s where the problem became evident, with Bonham repeatedly falling behind the beat. Jimmy Page then said, “There’s two of us tonight who aren’t feeling at all well. A bit of stomach trouble, so we’re gonna do our best, whatever, as usual.”

The band launched into “Black Dog,” adding the introduction from “Out on the Tiles.” As you can hear above, it’s far from the band’s greatest moment, with Bonham clearly struggling, especially during Page’s solos.

Following the song, Robert Plant was introducing “In the Evening” from In Through the Out Door when Bonham lost consciousness. “Hang on a tick,” Plant says. “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.”

But Bonham was unable to continue and the gig was scrapped. The band officially claimed¬†that Bonham was sick because he had eaten too many bananas earlier in the day. But fans on Led Zeppelin’s forum who claim to have been in attendance suggest otherwise, saying that he was drunk and knocking over his cymbals. There were also reports of the band partying in a disco earlier that day.

The show was never rescheduled. Three months later, on Sept. 25, 1980, Bonham died after choking on his on vomit following a day in which he, according to the coroner, drank the equivalent of 40 shots of vodka.

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