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Bonzo's Big Banger: The 'Led Zeppelin McLaren'

Bonzo's Big Banger: The 'Led Zeppelin McLaren'
Photo by Derek de Jager

Led Zeppelin's John 'Bonzo' Bonham was a simple soul. Not for him the mysteries of the tarot pack or Aleister Crowley's Magick, Book 4. When at home at his Worcestershire farm, a few pints of beer and his close family nearby were enough to keep the band's powerhouse drummer more than happy. He also liked cars and bikes. So much so that, in the band's 1976 film The Song Remains the Same, while Plant, Page and Jones choose mystical adventures for their 'fantasy' sequences, Bonham is seen content to be at home on his Harley, playing snooker and running an AA Fueler dragster to 260mph at Santa Pod. The background music to this pastoral scene is Bonham's 'own' Zeppelin number, Moby Dick. Bonzo's Big Banger: The 'Led Zeppelin McLaren'
Photo by Derek de Jager

In 1974, Bonham had been the prime mover in the band's famous Zeppelin image appearing on British driver Kaye Griffiths' McLaren M8E/D (chassis 80-08). The car had already been running in the usually undersupported Interserie series in 1971-72, when it was owned by the Belgian VDS team. Griffiths bought it in November 1972 - minus the fearsome twin-turbocharged Chevrolet engine - and, for the following two years, entered it in several Interserie and British Formula Libre events. The car appeared in 'Led Zeppelin' livery for the May 1974 Martini International Trophy Supersports event at Silverstone, a round of the Interserie. An occasional chart-topper in Formula Libre, Griffiths spun out of contention in the big race at Silverstone. Bonzo's Big Banger: The 'Led Zeppelin McLaren'
Photo by Derek de Jager

The car's dark blue with white stars and grey 'airship' paint scheme looked stunning – seemingly straight from the airbrushes of the Hipgnosis design agency. (It was, in fact, designed by Richard Evans Design & Art Direction, Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire – not far from the drummer's home.) In recent years, the 'Led Zeppelin McLaren' has been seen in historic motor racing, in the hands of its current owners, the Moritz family in the USA.

From: Classic Driver
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

February 7, 1962 - Deborah Bonham, sister to John, was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, England
February 23, 1966 - Warren Grant, son of Peter, was born.
February xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin enters the Billboard Top 40
February 16, 1969 - Led Zeppelin wrap up their first American tour in Baltimore, MD.
February 07, 1970 - Edinburgh gig cancelled after Plant receives facial injuries in a car accident
February 28, 1970 - The band performs as "The Nobs" in Copenhagen after threat of legal action from Countess Von Zeppelin
February xx, 1971 - John Paul Jones involved in legal issues regarding a musician who shares the same name
February xx, 1971 - Overdubs for the fourth album are recorded at Island Studios
February 14, 1972 - The band is refused admission into Singapore due to their long hair
February 16, 1972 - The Australian tour begins in Perth
February 21, 1972 - Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll b/w Four Sticks (Atlantic 45-2865) 45 single is released in the US.
February xx, 1973 - The band makes final preparations for the European tour
February 16, 1973 - The release date for Houses Of The Holy is pushed back due to some sleeve problems
February xx, 1974 - Sessions for Physical Graffiti continue
February 14, 1974 - Page, Plant and Bonham attend a Roy Harper concert
February 04, 1975 - Zeppelin perform a last minute show at Nassau Coliseum to accomodate fans after being banned in Boston
February 24, 1975 - Physical Graffiti finally issued worldwide to phenomenal sales
February xx, 1976 - Media reports that Zeppelin are due to release an album entitled Obelisk
February xx, 1977 - Robert contracts a bout of tonsillitis postponing the American tour
February xx, 1978 - Robert Plant helps produce a record for punk band Dansette Damage
February 16, 1978 - The cases against Bonham, Cole & Grant stemming from the Oakland incident are heard and all receive suspended prison sentences and fines
February xx, 1979 - Although absent from the US stage or market, Led Zeppelin rank best in many music magazine categories
February xx, 1979 - Mixing sessions for In Through The Out Door take place at Polar Studios. Rumors fly of a European tour
February 03, 1980 - Robert joins Dave Edmund’s Rockpile at the Birmingham Top Rank
February 13, 2005 - Led Zeppelin receives a Grammy for Lifetime Achievment.
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