Led Zeppelin remains one of those bands that represent the bygone era that made sex and drugs synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll. Looking back in 2019, these stories of wild parties and endless consumption seem a little less glamorous—especially when rap, the dominant genre, is directly addressing issues of mental health and substance abuse.
That’s exactly what makes this story that Jason Bonham—Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s son—told on Howard Stern about being with his father’s band as a kid so incredibly fucked up.
It’s about the first time he did cocaine as a kid with Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
“Jimmy was the first one to ever give it to me,” he told Stern on his Sirius XM radio show. “We got called to his room. … I was 16 at this point, and there was a woman on the floor with a collar on, meowing, and he had this grinder thing … and he turned it over and he went, ‘Here you go,’ and I went, ‘Thanks.’ He’s like, ‘You’ve done this before, right?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, of course I have.’ So he handed it over and I just did all of it, and he went, ‘Just like your father—you know, that was supposed to be for all of us.’”
If Jason was 16 at the time, that would place this story somewhere in 1983, which is three years after John died, choking on his vomit in his sleep after consuming 1.5 liters of vodka in a 24-hour period.
But in those days, the band glorified Jason’s substance abuse.
“I was taking it wrong,” he told Stern. “Sometimes when I got really drunk, they’d go, ‘He’s just like his old man.’”
It’s a pretty dark story in hindsight, but thankfully Jason has now been sober for 17 years.