When Robert Plant joined forces with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, he brought with him three essential ingredients to the success of the band: a powerful voice, a passion for blues and folk, and an amazing drummer.
At the time that Page was auditioning Plant, he was already thinking of offering the drummer’s chair to session player Aynsley Dunbar or to Procol Harum’s drummer B. J. Wilson. Ginger Baker was also rumored to be on his short list.
But Plant told the guitarist about a talented drummer he’d worked with in other Midlands bands named John Bonham. Bonham had power. He could be versatile. And he knew how to groove. All Page needed was to hear him perform to know that he’d found the right man for the job.
Bonham, on the other hand, took some convincing. He already had offers to join the bands of both British singer Chris Farlowe and Joe Cocker. Yet Jimmy Page was adamant. He sent no less than eight telegrams to the drummer encouraging him to say yes, and band manager Peter Grant sent an additional forty.
John Bonham eventually agreed, later explaining that he liked the new band’s music better than that of the other groups that were courting him.
And so it was that in the summer of 1968, the these four musicians assembled in London to begin making music together. John Paul Jones once told an interviewer, "As soon as I heard John Bonham play, I knew this was going to be great.”
But perhaps the award for the most prescient observation should go to John Bonham’s former headmaster who once wrote in an evaluation of his student, “He will either end up a dustman or a millionaire.”