The above photo is taken from the 1984 Riverside High School yearbook in sunny WIndsor Ontario Canada. My home town. The kid with the shit eating grin with John Bonham beside his photo is yours truly.
The full story is this.
You know when they do yearbook photos in school? They herd all the kids down to the gym or auditorium where they’ve got the local photographer set up to take the photos.
So our class gets called down and my mind starts plotting a little harmless scam. I already knew that to drink alcohol you had to be 19 or have a fake ID. So the concept of a fake ID was already known and here it seemed was an opportunity to get a real fake ID.
So we waited in line and when I got to the front the administrator asked my name. I blurted out “John Bohnam” and the game was on. She didn’t even bat an eye.
The guy took the picture and that was that. Except 2 weeks later after the company processed our student ID cards, I was sitting in homeroom waiting for Mr Cousineau (a former pro football player) to bust me for impersonating a drum god.
He read through the cards that had been sent to him one by one. Since they were sorted alphabetically, I started sweating when almost instantly (Since Bonham starts with B) he looked up at me after after a few seconds and said something like “Ian it seems like somethings wrong with your card”
I instantly ran up to the front of the class and basically snatched it out of his hand and said something like “oh, ok sir, I’ll make sure it gets fixed” making sure I got the card in the process.
I acted like I was curious when I looked at it. I said something like ” Weird” as I starred at the most awesome piece of contraband I had ever seen : A student ID card with my picture and John Bonham written beside it.
I knew I was about to be a legend. At least in my own mind. At lunch time, I went to hang out with all my stoner friends and waited until they had all shown and laughed at each other’s pictures when I unleashed my prize.
I was a teenage John Bonham and I had the ID to prove it.
This was met with awe. Or maybe we were all very high.
But the story doesn’t end there. 2 other chapters would unfold over the next 2 years.
The end of the year came and I wasn’t listed with my class in the yearbook. I was found in the absent or WTF section of the yearbook with the above picture and John Bonham written for all to see.
So, now I was in the yearbook as JB. But it gets worse, for me anyways.
You see, as the legend spread, other warped minds started to get in on my scam. By the time the next year rolled around the legend of the JB student card had spread to every knucklehead in our school. And word was going around that every kid with a leather jacket was going to pull the same stunt.
I started hearing that Joey Macintosh was going to get a Randy Rhodes card and someone else was going to get Eddie Van Halen. So I had to start planning a way to try and stay ahead of this crew of deviants.
Now, you have to understand that high school administrative personnel in Windsor Ontario were not necessarily at the cutting edge of 80’s rock and roll knowledge. None had read Hit Parader or Circus magazine and therefore wouldn’t know Eddie Van Halen from the long haired blond kid in the 11th grade English.
In my estimation pulling off a Randy Rhodes student card was not advancing the game. And I couldn’t go back and pull John Bonham again. I needed to out do myself and everyone else who was planning on getting in on the game I had created.
So I had to go out on a limb and use a name that was more common knowledge than John Bonham for round 2, 11th grade Student Card Scam Game. After considering using Elvis Presley, I decided Buddy Holly was the best way to go.
So along comes the day where we have to get our pictures taken. We get shuffled down to the auditorium to do the deed. And something had changed. The school was using other students to to the registration process. As I moved through the line I saw that the girl who was sitting at the table to sign me up was my lab partner from my science class, I think her name was Debbie.
Debbie was a good student which was why she was picked to do this duty on behalf of the administration of our school. Which also meant she was smart. And she was super nice, and I hate telling this, but I had to deceive her. Actually I had to totally bullshit her.
And bullshit her I did. It went something like this>
Debbie: “Hi Ian”
Me: “Um, hi Debbie, listen (whispering with feigned embarrassment) my name’s not really Ian”
Me: “Yeah, I know. Here’s the thing. My real name is Buddy Holly. You see my parents were huge fans of this Buddy Holly guy and when he died they were all torn up. When I was born they decided to name me Buddy Holly”
Debbie: “Oh my god”
Me: “Yeah, I know. I hate it. So a few years ago I changed my name to Ian, but since this is a legal piece of ID, it has to be my real name.
Debbie: “Wow, thats tough”
Me: “Yeah its totally embarrassing> Please don’t tell anybody. I can’t wait until I’m 18 so I can change my name”
And just like that Debbie typed Buddy Holly on a blank student card. I took it over to the adult photographer guy and handed it to him.
“Buddy Holly? Yeah right!!”
Me, almost yelling/crying: “Look, my parents were huge fans OK!!!!”
He took the picture.
2 weeks later. The student cards arrive at my homeroom. I am sweating my ass off at the final step of what I am sure is the most illegal act in the history of high school administrative scam jobs.
The teacher passes out all the cards. No Buddy Holly. No Ian Lee.
“Did I miss anyone?” asks the teacher. I raise my hand.
10 minutes later over the intercom ” IAN LEE TO THE PRINCIPALS OFFICE” I’m screwed.
I walk into the Mr Wright’s office and he’s holding a stack of 30 student cards with Randy Rhodes, Alex Van Halen, Neil Peart and others written on them and one Buddy Holly with my smug face. And he knows who Buddy Holly is. And he also knows my dad. Personally. They went to university together. You see, my dad was a teacher too.
They had talked on the phone already. I was toast. Lots of yelling about how I wasted school resources and how they couldn’t use these student cards with fake names on them I was sentenced to detention hall for a couple weeks hard time.
A couple weeks later my dad got the student card in the mail and we had a good laugh about it.
And that is the story of the John Bonham student card.
The ultimate irony that after years of playing in indie rock bands I’m not putting on a wig to play Led Zeppelin songs just like I did back then.