THE GREATEST show of my life is how Deborah Bonham has described a memorial fund-raising gig in Redditch to honour her brother’s memory.
Deborah performed in St Stephen’s Church on Saturday in aid of the John Bonham Memorial Fund, which aims to raise £50,000 to install a permanent memorial around the bandstand in tribute to the drummer who was Redditch born and bred.
In a night packed with emotion, the 52-year-old performed a special acoustic set for over an hour while the crowd, which included people from across the country, were also shown footage from family home videos and messages of support for the campaign from stars including Carmine Appice, drummer with Vanilla Fudge, Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ Frank Benbini and Paul Rodgers, lead singer with Free and Bad Company.
Members of the Bonham family were also present including 91-year-old Aunty Bet and 87-year-old Aunty Dot while messages were played or read out from John’s widow Pat and his daughter Zoe who were unable to attend.
It is the first time Deborah, who was also born and brought up in the borough, had ever played her home town and she said it was a humbling experience.
“I was very nervous but I have to tell you this was the most special show I have ever done in my life, it was just unbelievable.” she told the Standard.
“There’s a beautiful feel in this church, which I think there is in a lot of churches, but especially here as Michael (her brother) was married here and John and I used to come here. To be here and play and do it for the occasion for John’s memorial was fantastic.”
She added the fact the fund-raising was being done by John’s fans made it extra special.
“I love him beyond belief because he is my brother but I’m also a huge music fan and for me he is the greatest drummer in one of the greatest bands.
“If you put all that into the equation it’s amazing other people get that, understand that and want to cherish John’s memory.
“People all over the world have been donating and this is for the people. It’s not about one person paying for this statue, this is about the fans, they want their little bit and if I can help that by raising some funds then fantastic.”
Deborah said despite his success John never forgot Redditch was where he came from.
“The fact he never moved away from the Midlands said it all. He lived 30 minutes from here. He travelled the world, he was everywhere, but his home was here.” she added.
The show was opened by Clem and Sam Dallaway who originally came up with the idea for the memorial. The night raised almost £2,000 with another £1,500 having been donated online by those who could not attend.
Ros Sidaway, who organised the gig and is fund treasurer, said: “September 2015 marks 35 years since John’s death at the young age of 32. It would be a most wonderful tribute to have a memorial in place to where fans could go to pay their respects to the world’s greatest drummer.”
Led Zeppelin fans worldwide are being encouraged to organise their own fund-raising events or to visit www.johnbonhammemorialfund.com to donate.