Deborah Bonham

Deborah Bonham Biography

The Bonham family tree is firmly rooted in musical tradition. First was John Bonham, the esteemed drummer for Led Zeppelin, who was followed by his son Jason, a skilled skinman in his own right. Add to that list Deborah Bonham -- sister of John, aunt of Jason -- whose album DUCHESS introduces her powerful blues-rock vocal chops to American listeners.

A celebration of soul, strength and family, the album -- Bonham's third overall -- stands as her finest work. She rips through 13 original compositions backed by her forceful working band -- former Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley, bassist Ian Rowley, keyboardist Gerard Louis, and guitarist Peter Bullick. Each song showcases her soulful singing and her effortless, sensitive approach to a gamut of styles, from blues and soul to hard rock and English folk.

DUCHESS is the best showcase yet for Deborah's versatility. It features the bluesy stompers "Pretty Thing," "Grace," and "Duchess & the Shufflemeister"; the heart-ripping ballad "Love You So"; the country-tinged lament "Blue" (featuring veteran pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole); the folk-inflected "Chains" and a stand-out performance on "Hold On," a stirring statement of self-reliance and faith that includes guest drummer Jason Bonham and vocalist Paul Rodgers, the former frontman for Free and Bad Company.

The new, live-in-the-studio version of "The Old Hyde Revisited," available only on the digital version, is a subdued, moving tribute to her father John Henry Bonham, Sr. and her brothers John and Michael, all of whom passed away within years of each other. "We end every live show with it," Deborah says. "Every time I sing it, it brings a tear to my eye. It has that power. It gets me every time I sing it."

Bonham was first inspired to perform at the age of six after seeing her brother perform with Led Zeppelin for the first time. But it wasn't until after John's untimely death in 1980 that she decided to take the plunge. Initially hesitant to take the stage, she says the Bonham name was a double-edged sword: "I knew some people would think I was just jumping on the bandwagon."

She eventually relented, releasing her U.K. debut, For You And The Moon, to strong reviews in 1985. But she quickly soured on the music business. It would be nearly 20 years before she returned with her follow-up, The Old Hyde, which featured Mick Fleetwood, The Pretenders' Robbie McIntosh, Robbie Blunt and Dougie Boyle of Robert Plant's band, and Jason Bonham.

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