John Henry Bonham (31 May 1948 – 25 September 1980) was an English musician and songwriter. Bonham was esteemed for his speed, power, fast right foot, distinctive sound, and "feel" for the groove. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock music. Over 30 years after his death, Bonham continues to garner awards and praise, including a Rolling Stone readers' pick in 2011 placing him in first place of the magazine's "best drummers of all time".
A North American tour, the band's first since 1977, was scheduled to commence on October 17th. On September 24th, 1980, Bonham was picked up by Led Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray Studios. During the journey Bonham asked to stop for breakfast, where he downed four quadruple vodkas (450 ml/15 oz.), with a ham roll. After taking a bite of the ham roll he said to his assistant, "breakfast". He continued to drink heavily when he arrived at the studio.
The rehearsals were halted late that evening and the band retired to Page's house—the Old Mill House in Clewer, Windsor. After midnight, Bonham, who had fallen asleep, was taken to bed and placed on his side. At 1:45 pm the next day Benji LeFevre (Led Zeppelin's new tour manager) and John Paul Jones found Bonham dead. The cause of death was asphyxiation from vomit, and a verdict of accidental death was returned at an inquest held on October 27th. An autopsy found no other drugs in Bonham's body. Bonham was cremated on October 10th, 1980, and his ashes buried at Rushock parish church in Droitwich, Worcestershire.
The planned North American tour was cancelled, and despite rumours that Cozy Powell, Carmine Appice, Barriemore Barlow, Simon Kirke or Bev Bevan would join the group as his replacement, the remaining members decided to disband. A December 4th, 1980 press statement stated that, "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were", and was simply signed "Led Zeppelin".