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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

July xx, 1969 - The band play many festivals now on their third American tour
July xx, 1970 - Additional recording for Led Zeppelin III at London’s Island Studios
July 16, 1970 - Photographer Chris Welch films Led Zeppelin on his 8mm camera, some clips later used in the Whole Lotta Love promo video
July xx, 1971 - Untitled gets re-mixed in London
July 05, 1971 - A riot erupts mid-concert, forcing Led Zeppelin to stop after about 40 minutes
July xx, 1972 - After repeated bad press, Led Zeppelin hire their first publicity firm
July 20, 1973 - A last minute decision is made to film the remaining part of the tour
July xx, 1973 - Led Zeppelin is filmed over the three nights for their film that will emerge as The Song Remains The Same
July xx, 1974 - After viewing their 1973 filmed performance, it is apparent critical errors were made
July xx, 1974 - Mixing for Physical Graffiti at Olympic Studios
July 05, 1975 - The band meet in Montreux to discuss adding South America and Japan to the end of their North American tour
July xx, 1976 - Bonham and Page fly to Montreux, Switzerland to check out some new sound and drum effects
July 17, 1977 - The last ever performance of Moby Dick played at the Seattle Kingdome
July 24, 1977 - The band plays its last US date at the Oakland Coliseum
July xx, 1978 - Led Zeppelin are invited to perform at Maggie Bell’s Festival Hall show
July xx, 1979 - Led Zeppelin film their rehearsal at Bray Studios
July 04, 1979 - Led Zeppelin confirm a second date at Knebworth in August 1979
July 05, 1980 - Simon Kirke joins in on drums for an encore in Munich
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