Nick Warburton has provided this comprehensive overview of The Way of Life

This historically important band is best known for featuring future Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and bass player Dave Pegg, who went onto Fairport Convention among others.
The Way of Life #1 (June 1966-September 1966)
Reg Jones – lead vocals, harmonica
Chris Jones – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, vocals
Mick ‘Sprike’ Hopkins – lead guitar, vocals
Tony Clarkson – bass, vocals
John Bonham – drums, vocals
One Sunday (either 12 or 19 June but the latter is more likely), the Jones brothers auditioned about 20 drummers at the Club Cedar where the new outfit had a gig that night. John Bonham, who’d worked with Clarkson and Hopkins in The Nicky James Movement, turned up and landed the job.
The Way of Life was augmented for its first few gigs by Nicky James on second lead vocals but he did not stay long.

Selected gigs:
19 June 1966 – Club Cedar, Birmingham, West Midlands (debut)
21 June 1966 – Carlton Club, Erdington, West Midlands
24 June 1966 – Sydenham Pub, Sydenham, West Midlands
25 June 1966 – Hereford Lounge, Bull’s Head, Yardley, West Midlands
1 July 1966 – Hereford Lounge, Bull’s Head, Yardley, West Midlands
8 July 1966 – Hereford Lounge, Bull’s Head, Yardley, West Midlands
9 July 1966 – Hereford Lounge, Bull’s Head, Yardley, West Midlands with The Falling Leaves
14 July 1966 – Station Inn, Selly Oak, West Midlands
15 July 1966 – Sydenham Pub, Sydenham, West Midlands
16 July 1966 – Hereford Lounge, Bull’s Head, Yardley, West Midlands
23 July 1966 – Carlton Club, Erdington, West Midlands
30 July 1966 – Station Inn, Selly Oak, West Midlands
5 August 1966 – Carlton Ballroom, Erdington, West Midlands with Little People
20 August 1966 – Carlton Ballroom, Erdington, West Midlands with Long Stack Humphries
10 September 1966 – Carlton Club, Erdington, West Midlands with Outer Limits
21 September 1966 – Mackadown, Kitts Green, West Midlands with Modernairs
24 September 1966 – Station Inn, Selly Oak, West Midlands

The Way of Life #2 (September 1966-January 1967)
Reg Jones – lead vocals, harmonica
Chris Jones – lead guitar
Mick ‘Sprike’ Hopkins – lead guitar, vocals
Tony Clarkson – bass, vocals
Mac Poole – drums
John Bonham was sacked for playing too loudly and his friend Mac Poole, who’d worked with the Jones brothers in The Chucks from January-April 1966, took his place behind the drum kit. Poole has also played with The Incas and The Seed during 1966.
In December 1966, The Way of Life signed with the Rik Gunnell Agency and recorded some tracks in London. However, the following month John Bonham convinced the Jones brothers to re-employ him. Poole subsequently joined Hush.
Selected gigs:
30 September 1966 – Bell Hotel, Northfield, West Midlands (Poole’s debut – from his diary)
5 November 1966 – Mews, Moseley, West Midlands with Locomotive
26 November 1966 – (Club Cedar, Birmingham?) with Elkie Brooks
2 December 1966 – Mad House, Erdington, West Midlands
9 December 1966 – Carlton Club, Erdington, West Midlands
December 1966? – opened new club in Liege, Belgium (most likely the New Inn Club)
31 December – California Ballroom, Dunstable, Bedfordshire with The Quiet Five
4 January 1967 – Hereford Lounge, Bull’s Head, Yardley, West Midlands
5 January 1967 – Carlton Club, Erdington, West Midlands
9 January 1967 – The Belfry, Wishaw, West Midlands
11 January 1967 – Heartbeat, Birmingham, West Midlands (Mac Poole’s final gig – from his diary)
The Way of Life #3 (January-February 1967)
Reg Jones – lead vocals, harmonica
Chris Jones – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, vocals
Mick ‘Sprike’ Hopkins – lead guitar, vocals
Tony Clarkson – bass, vocals
John Bonham – drums, vocals
Tony Clarkson’s younger brother had gone to school with Birmingham-born, Canadian-raised siblings, Ed and Brian Pilling, who had returned to the West Midlands from Toronto to form a group. Introduced to Clarkson, the trio decided to put together Wages of Sin and lined up gigs in Germany.
Clarkson enticed Mick Hopkins away from The Way of Life. John Bonham was also invited but decided to stay with the Jones brothers. The Wages of Sin would become Yellow Rainbow and then Zeus, becoming Cat Stevens’s backing band.
Selected gigs:
12 January 1967 – Gig in London (according to Birmingham Evening Mail)
13 January 1967 – Penthouse, Birmingham, West Midlands
16 January 1967 – Caravelle Club, Birmingham Airport, Birmingham, West Midlands
20 January 1967 – Royal Oak, Hockley Heath, West Midlands
21 January 1967 – Elbow Room, Aston, West Midlands
26 January 1967 – Station Inn, Selly Oak, West Midlands
28 January 1967 – Penthouse, Birmingham, West Midlands
29 January 1967 – Gotham City, Birmingham, West Midlands
30 January 1967 – Heartbeat, Birmingham, West Midlands
31 January 1967 – Carlton Club, Erdington, West Midlands
4 February 1967 – Le Carnaby Club, Leicester, Leicestershire
18 February 1967 – Tiles, London with Hush and The Question
The Way of Life #4 (February-September 1967)
Reg Jones – lead vocals, harmonica
Chris Jones – lead guitar
Danny King – bass, lead vocals
John Bonham – drums, vocals
Chris Jones assumed the lead guitar role and Danny King was brought in on bass and second lead vocals.
Danny King was a respected singer on the local scene and had led a succession of groups since the early 1960s starting with Danny King & The Dukes. After fronting Danny King & The Royals and Danny King & The Jesters (with Chris Jones, he formed Danny King & The Mayfair Set. During 1966, King left to sing with Locomotive.
Shortly after joining The Way of Life, the quartet travelled down to London and played the Bag O’Nails. During the summer of 1967, The Way of Life, added Bugsy Eastwood from The Exception as a second drummer, but he did not stay long.
Selected gigs:
11 March 1967 – California Ballroom, Dunstable, Bedfordshire with The Quiet Five and The Essex Five
13 March 1967 – The Belfry, Wishaw, West Midlands with Manchester’s Playboys (billed as New Way of Life)
25 March 1967 – The Mews, Moseley, West Midlands
5 April 1967 – Mackadown, Kitts Green, West Midlands with The Exception (billed as New Way of Life with Danny King)
17 June 1967 – Handsworth Plaza, Handsworth, West Midlands with The Kinks
21 June 1967 – Hen & Chickens, Langley, West Midlands with The ‘N’ Betweens and Priority
5 July 1967 – Industrial Club, Norwich, Norfolk
The Way of Life #5 (September-October 1967)
Reg Jones – lead vocals, harmonica
Chris Jones – lead guitar
Dave Pegg – bass, vocals
John Bonham – drums, vocals (replaced briefly by Phil Brittle)
After Danny King left, Dave Pegg came in from The Exception, a band that had shared the stage with The Way of Life at least once earlier in the year.
Pegg had an impressive pedigree, having previously worked with The Trespassers, Dave & The Emeralds, The Crawdaddies and Roy Everett & The Blueshounds before backing Jimmy Cliff for a few months from November 1965-February 1966. He then hooked up with The Uglys in mid-February 1966 before joining The Exception later that year.
Laurie Hornsby’s book Brum Rocked On!, notes that the new line up rehearsed at the Warstock pub. Dave Pegg’s diary notes that the line-up’s first gig took place at the Swadley Youth Club. The bass player recalls that he played about 20 gigs with Bonham before the drummer left.
According Harry Barber’s book on the Band of Joy, drummer Phil Brittle took over briefly before leaving to join the fourth line up of The Band of Joy in late September. He only stayed a very short while however, before John Bonham took his place and met his future Led Zeppelin colleague, Robert Plant.
Selected gigs:
15 September 1967 – Swadley Youth Club, Swadley, West Midlands (Pegg’s debut – from his diary)
17 September 1967 – Crown & Cushion, Perry Barr, West Midlands
18 October 1967 – British Services Club (Perry Common British Legion?)
23 October 1967 – Queen’s Head, Erdington, West Midlands (Pegg’s final gig from his diary)
The Way of Life #6 (October 1967-circa January 1968)
Reg Jones – lead vocals, harmonica
Chris Jones – lead guitar
Jon Fox – lead guitar, vocals
Danny King – bass, vocals
John Panteney – (Pank) drums
Dave Pegg left in late October 1967 to join The Ian Campbell Folk Group and later found fame with Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull.
The Jones siblings brought back Danny King to replace Dave Pegg on bass and recruited Jon Fox on second lead guitar and vocals. Fox had started out with his own outfit, Jon Fox & The Hunters, in the early 1960s. He subsequently became a member of Johnny Neal & The Starliners before forming The Varsity Rag in 1967.
The Way of Life also found a new drummer, John Panteney, who had worked with The Chantelles (after the Jones siblings had moved on) in the mid-1960s. He then played with several other local acts before agreeing to join The Way of Life.
However, it was yet another short-lived version. By early 1968, Fox had moved on to form Cathedral while Panteney joined Paradox with future Magnum singer Bob Catley.
Selected gigs:
7 November 1967 – Industrial Club, Norwich, Norfolk
4 January 1968 – Birdland, West Bromwich, West Midlands
The Way of Life #7 (January-November 1968)
Reg Jones – lead vocals, harmonica
Chris Jones – lead guitar
Danny King – bass, lead vocals
Barry Smith – drums

The Jones brothers rebuilt the group by bringing in drummer Barry Smith, who’d worked with them previously in The Chucks during 1965. Smith had started out with former Way of Life bass player/singer Danny King in his early 1960s band, Danny King & The Royals. Later on, he worked with Danny Burns & The Phantoms.
The final incarnation recorded some material for Polydor Records before splitting up in late 1968. The Jones brothers continued to play live on the local scene. Reg Jones died in 2004 and Chris Jones passed away in March 2014.
Selected gigs:
17 March 1968 – Crown & Cushion, Birmingham with The Penny Peeps

Sources: all West Midlands gigs were sourced from the Birmingham Evening Mail, which is an amazing resource for music journalists. Other magazine/newspaper sources were: Melody Maker and Eastern Evening News.
Copyright © Nick Warburton, 2014. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior permission from the author.
Thanks to Mick Hopkins, Tony Clarkson, Dave Pegg and Mac Poole (who both shared dates from their diaries), Jon Fox, Harry Barber, Laurie Hornsby, John R Woodhouse, who runs the Brumbeat website. Mick Bonham’s book John Bonham: The Powerhouse behind Led Zeppelin was another great resource.