Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Above: Stephen Davis, author of Hammer of the Gods, interviews Robert Plant about Celtic mythology, glorified statuatory rape, and shaking his dong in people's faces.

If you are familiar with this blog, you may already be aware of my dislike for Led Zeppelin ('Stirring The Shit Pot', April 7, 2009). I think that they were a so-so band at best, completely overrated, blown out of proportion and equipped with enough original ideas to (maybe) fill a thimble. So it might come as a surprise that I just finished reading Stephen Davis' Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga, a pandering, bloated, and disgusting look at four of the biggest egos to ever stalk the rock and roll pantheon. Why did I read it if I hate the band so much? Good question. I felt Zeppelin deserved a second shot, that perhaps I had cast judgement on them prematurely before hearing all sides of their story.
To Zeppelin's credit, I have indeed misjudged them.
They are, without a doubt, even BIGGER assholes than I had ever guessed, and deserving of WAY more scorn than I had heaped upon them in the past.

What I had known about Zeppelin in the past proved to be only a tip of the iceberg, that their douchebaggery ran much, MUCH deeper than the casual observer might guess. Unoriginal? Shit, Zeppelin were straight-up plagiarists, stealing songs from just about anywhere, making minimal changes, and then passing them off as their own, providing absolutely NO songwriting credit to the original artists. These guys got ludicrously wealthy as nothing but a glorified cover band, recycling other people's ideas to an unsuspecting audience in return for fame, glory, and groupies galore. I've never enjoyed their music ("Immigrant Song" and "Out On The Tiles" being the only exceptions), but little did I know that almost all of their music was ripped off from somewhere or another, uncredited and thinly disguised.
For example: "Dazed And Confused", a big hit off of their first album, took its main riff and lyrical content directly from a song entitled "I'm Confused" by folk singer Jake Holmes, a fact that Jimmy Page admits openly. When confronted with the fact that Zeppelin made millions off of his track, Holmes conceded quickly, knowing that he was no match for Zep's million-dollar legal team.
And what about "Stairway To Heaven", their calling-card anthem? Did you know that that riff was lifted from a song by Brit-rockers Spirit? True. Most of their early material was "written" based on old blues songs by guys like Willie Dixon and Robert Johnson, with just enough musical and lyrical difference to avoid lawsuits. Realizing that they were walking a thin line, Zeppelin planned to play some sort of benefit for a blues museum in the South in the 70's, but quickly scrapped the idea when they figured out that a "benefit" wouldn't make them any richer. They also plundered Traffic and Joan Baez for ideas, and amazingly never faced ANY legal ramifications.
Luckily, you can check out many of these musical burglaries in mp3 form on this Listropia list. Pay SPECIAL attention to "Dazed and Confused" and the stolen Spirit riff on "Stairway To Heaven". It's pretty amazing.

What makes the whole deal even more infuriating was the way bootleggers were treated by Zeppelin's road crew and security team at the pinnacle of their popularity. Fans caught with cameras or microphones at concerts would be brutally ejected, often having their equipment smashed in the process. How DARE they try to get a piece of these songs that Jimmy Page stole FAIR AND SQUARE?
Zeppelin was indeed the Metallica of their day in terms of douchebaggery, waging a war on fans who were just trying to snap a picture or record a live song. Bear in mind, John Bonham already owned 21 cars at this point.
Yet another shitty chapter in the Zep legacy was their misogynistic treatment of women (especially their wives). When they hit the Los Angeles "scene" in the early 70's, Zeppelin was known as a sexual circus, with rumours abound of women being tied up, gang raped, or worse. 75% of the band were married with children at this point, and while they don't deny their sexual escapades, they went to great lengths to keep pictures of themselves cavorting with their sexual conquests out of the media. Several stories have John Bonham punching women in the face, or more often attempting sexual assault in public places.
Stephen Davis paints Jimmy Page's early 70's affair with 14-year-old groupie Lori Maddox in an extremely "romantic" light, considering the fact that she was "kidnapped" (her words) by Zep roadies and locked away in a hotel room to avoid press interference. Page would return to L.A. after tours, visiting his 4-years-underage "mistress" to have his way with her between affairs with other women. Never prosecuted for this statuatory rape, the incident is remembered fondly by all involved, and serves as a grim reminder of just how FUCKED UP Zep's view of women really was. FUCK those guys.
I know, I know. "It's all about the music". But whatever. I HATE their music. I HATE them as people. And I HATE everything that Led Zeppelin stands for.

While we're on the subject of shitty bands that everyone else seems to like: FUCK YOU TOO, TOOL, you artsy, pretentious, fake-metallers. And FUCK YOU, Mastodon. There are thousands of bands out there doing what you do, only BETTER.

Sorry, just needed to get that out of my system.

To lighten things up a bit, let's check out "Stairway" backwards -- You know, the version with "Sad Satan in the toolshed" and whatnot?

PS: The only mention of Black Sabbath in the entire book is on page 298, when Davis dismisses them as Zeppelin "clones" along with Cheap Trick, Heart, and Foreigner. Way to do your research, Steve.


Anonymous said...

Personally, I prefer their "cheap clone" Sabbath...
Hopefully, you'll be getting lots of angry comments, keep it up mate!!

FeatherofHuginn said...

Hah, I prefer Sabbath tenfold too. I won't lie, though. I do like Kashmir, and they get props by me for collaborating with Sandy Denny on "The Battle of Evermore".

Anonymous said...

Agreed. What did it have to say about manager Peter Grant? I can imagine that bloated whale sodomizing everyone wanting to get backstage, wiping his shit stained, bloody dick on their tie dye shirts, and sending them away. Was John Paul Jones smart enough to keep his affairs private? You don't hear much about him going apeshit crazy.

FUCK TOOL! Oh hell yes.

Shelby Cobras said...

Peter Grant was ALL SORTS of fucked up, although I respect him as a manager, because he did whatever it took (including LOTS of physical violence) to get his act their money. That was his job. But yeah, he was a freak and a fucking asshole.
JPJ managed to keep his shit relatively private, although he took part in his share of questionable behavior. Some say he was the only one who DIDN'T take part in Jimmy's pact with the Devil, and as a result was the only one who got away unharmed (Plant lost his 5-year-old son, Bonzo died, and Page had to watch, addicted to smack, as all this bad shit went down). John Paul Jones, while still a wad, was a significantly smaller wad than the rest of these guys.

RyGar said...

Zeppelin is one of those bands that I keep crossing paths with when searching for the ultimate music experience. You know those epiphanies you get when you listen to a killer song that's 30-odd years old, and you are just rocked out of your dirty jeans? Well, I'm always trying to find those moments, and people are always trying to steer me down the path of LZ. "Just listen to this bootleg, bro. It's totally ah-may-zinggg..."But you know what? I have never found any satisfaction there. Ever. Robert Plant's vocals are obnoxious, Page's guitar is boring and wanky, Bonzo is rad, but so what? How hard is it to find a drummer that beats the shit out of his kit? Not very. Keith Moon was better. Bill Ward played more memorably. Fuck Led Zeppelin and their trouser snakes and weak implied mysticism. Try reading "The Dirt" about Motley Crue if you want more disgusting off stage antics. Another band I hate, but at least the book was interesting.

txhdoomhammer said...

Wow, up until I read this I seriously thought I was the only one who hated Led Zepplin. They didn't invent metal, or even come close to inventing metal. Of course, most of the people I know who actually listen to this garbage are stupid college kids, so go figure.

Shelby Cobras said...

"The Dirt" > "Hammer of the Gods". Easy.

Erik Del Tigre said...

Disclaimer: I think Zeppelin is rad. In my opinion, there is no better rhythm section in rock than Bonham and JPJ. None. That said, why do so many people claim they were a proto-metal like Sabbath? They were NOT. I don't know where that theory got started, but it's objectively wrong. Zeppelin was blues-based rock and roll, straight up. They could play heavy, sure, but fuck me, they could also play folk music about flowers and shit. You don't hear anyone citing the influence of "Going To California" on fucking Slayer. Their influence on mainstream rock was overwhelming. Their influence on metal was, I think, minor. Now, their influence on minors...well...

Shoelundo said...

When I'm looking for great proto-metal from the 70's, I'll take Grand Funk any day. Fuck Zeppelin. The riff from Sin's a Good Man's Brother is better than anything Page ever ripped off.

Jake said...

The best part of the whole "Dazed and Confused" clusterfuck is that my name is Jake Holmes. It's always good icebreaker at parties when I say that I share names with a guy who got his song ripped off by Led Zeppelin, and later wound up writing a bunch of jingles. True story.

Nicky10lbs said...

Bigger Douchebags then them were without a doubt Eric Clapton. What a jealous overated scumbag is he.But the king of all Douchebags is Jimi Hendrix. Remember when he tried to get rid of Mitch Mitchell,so he could have an all black band. Then when that overated scumbag realized he fucked up ,he beg Mitchell back. Not to mention how much he sucked live . MSG 1970 Getting booed offstage. (Google it) . Hendrix was such a Scumbag>