Personalities | Led Zeppelin | The Later Years (1980) | Key Events


Richard Cole Fired

When a member of a band’s closest entourage is fired, it’s a sure sign of a group in distress. Since heroin had entered the group’s circle, Cole for one had become an addicted user and, by 1980, Peter Grant felt that he was too debilitated to be able to do his job properly. Grant fired Cole shortly before Led Zeppelin’s 1980 European tour. Cole flew to Italy to try to kick his habit and was arrested in Rome when police found what they claimed to be cocaine, among other things, in Cole’s hotel room. He was sent to a maximum-security prison for six months.


European Tour

Trying to get back to their roots, Led Zeppelin’s European tour saw no laser-light show or large screens. Instead, it was just the four band members plus equipment, just like in the early days. Not that they didn’t look worse for wear. Page for one had lost a lot of weight since their last tour in 1977, while Bonham had a bearded, haggard look not unlike the hermit on the sleeve of Led Zeppelin IV. Without Cole on tour with them the scenes of wanton destruction had all but disappeared, as the band instead tried to complete a tour without cancelling dates or having bad luck befall them.


John Bonham Collapses

Never had there been a man more affected by tour fatigue. Unable to control or curb his drinking, John Bonham just continued apace while he was away from his family, as if he still had the youthful energy that he did when Led Zeppelin first went to America over 10 years before. The cracks in Bonham’s health were beginning to show, however, and at the Messezentrum Halle, Nuremburg, Germany, on 27 June, Bonham collapsed only three songs into the set. Despite the official explanation of exhaustion and, later, overeating, the warning signs were there.


Final Live Performance

The 1980 European tour was yet another late-period Led Zeppelin tour to be cancelled. Though Bonham would tell the press that everyone had been ‘dead chuffed’ with the tour, Page cancelled their upcoming dates in France. Led Zeppelin’s 7 July show at Eissporthalle, Berlin, would be their last ever as the original four-piece group.


John Bonham Dies

Increasingly despondent over having to leave his family behind while he went on tour, John Bonham must have approached the rehearsals for an upcoming US tour with some trepidation. While being driven to Bray Studios in Berkshire, Bonham asked to stop off at a pub for breakfast, where he downed four quadruple vodkas and orange juice on top of eating some ham rolls. At the rehearsal studio, Bonham continued to drink until, for the first time in his career, he was too drunk to play. The rehearsals were called to a halt and the band retired to Jimmy Page’s home, where Bonham continued to drink until he passed out and was put to bed. The following...

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