Bill Bonham

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Bill Bonham
Years active 1963–2015
Status Deceased
Origin Birmingham
Music genre(s) Rock, blues rock, progressive rock

William Bonham, Jr. (27 September 1950 — 24 August 2015) was born in Birmingham, England. A member of various bands, he was known for his multi-instrumental skills in groups such as Obs-Tweedle, session work, and solo projects by Terry Reid, and Ace Kefford. He is a distant cousin of drummer John Bonham, and singer Deborah Bonham.

Bonham grew up in the Beechdale area, where he developed his musical skills from the age of 6. He attended Hydesville Tower School in Walsall and his father, William Bonham, Sr., was landlord of Three Men in a Boat public house along Stephenson Avenue in Bloxwich, which was a hub of activity for local bands in the West Midlands. At the age of 11, Bonham learned some guitar chords from musician Noddy Holder, who was a neighbour in Gurney Road, and by 14 he was already starting to gig with local bands such as Prim 'n' Proper, Tony Dangerfield and the Thrills, Dual Purpose, and the Answer. During the first years of his career he was known as Billy Bonham. The Answer used the Three Men in a Boat as a rehearsal space before changing their name to Obs-Tweedle, with the addition of Robert Plant, who was lodging in an upstairs room at the venue, before he found fame with Led Zeppelin.[1] Bonham's multi-instrumental talents (keyboards, bass guitar, flute, clarinet, and saxophone) meant he was in demand as both a session musician and for backing touring artists, and he was soon part of Terry Reid's outfit after Obs-Tweedle folded, helping record Reid's debut album (Bang Bang You're Terry Reid) until illness prevented him from touring the United States.[2] Bonham was also a member of Spread Eagle, Hari Kari, Matthew, Sight & Sound, Fairfield Ski, Kefford-Bonham,[3] and sessioned for the Hollies (uncredited), Herman's Hermits (uncredited), Procol Harum (uncredited), Manfred Mann's Earth band, and Donovan. He also studied at the Royal Academy of Music graduating at degree level. Bonham moved to the United States in 1976, and performed with Californian outfit Band of the Century. He worked as a producer and recording engineer with his own studio in Brea, California.[4]

Bonham took his own life on 24 August 2015 in Tucson, Arizona, following months of declining health after heart surgery and a motor vehicle accident in August 2014.

Notes

  1. Snow, Mat (May 1990). "Robert Plant's Record Collection". Q (1784): 54. ISSN 0955-4955. Retrieved on 5 June 2009.
  2. Plummer, Mark (14 February 1970). "Reid on from Here". Melody Maker: 4. ISSN 0025-9012. Retrieved on 5 June 2009.
  3. Brum Beat Bands. Brum Beat. Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
  4. Bill Bonham: My Story. billbonham.com. Retrieved on 20 April 2009.