When was Jimmy Page operated on on his back?
LED ZEPPELIN. Chronic listlessness was fired. Just like any other long-time Yardbirds member
1 Michael Rensen / RockHard 181 & 182 LED ZEPPELIN Stairway To Zeppelin LED ZEPPELIN were the biggest rock band in the world. They broke all sales and attendance records, turned the music business upside down and organized with their groupies exactly what mothers always warn their daughters about. Their completely timeless LPs were considered the greatest sensation of the seventies and made the hard rock and metal boom of the eighties and nineties possible. We'll trace the incredible career of the Zeps for you on a total of 20 pages - with all the scandals, great moments and tragic moments. Buckle up, hold on and have a good flight! Even more than 20 years after their breakup, LED ZEPPELIN are still the most successful rock group of all time. In the United States, they were recently awarded a Diamond Record for selling ten million copies of their self-titled box set. It was the fifth diamond award of the Zeps, with which the band caught up with the previous front runners, the Beatles. The fourth LP by the British has sold an incredible 22 million times in the United States. Zeppelin riffs appear in metal, rock, hip-hop, soul and techno songs, a tour by Jimmy Page with the Black Crowes literally collapsed under the crowd, and mega-chaots like Aerosmith and Mötley Crüe frankly admit that their excesses of the past 25 years have been little more than a desperate attempt to top the legendary Zeps scandal stories. Eric Clapton's legacy Like everything else in life, the success story of LED ZEPPELIN began small and inconspicuous. When Jimmy Page, who had enjoyed an excellent reputation as a studio guitarist in London for several years, joined the Yardbirds in the spring of 1966, he was supposed to only be playing bass. On the lead guitar, Jeff Beck, an absolute exceptional talent, played the magic, replacing his predecessor Eric Clapton and making the Yardbirds one of the hottest bands in England. The second guitarist Chris Dreja was not up to Page and voluntarily swapped instruments with him. The Yardbirds then worked with double-lead guitars - long before Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden - until Beck was fired in October 1966 for chronic listlessness. Just like all the other longtime Yardbirds members, he was tour-weary. Page, who was henceforth responsible for all guitar parts, kept the rest of the bunch together for two years until it came to a big bang in June 1968 towards the end of a US tour. Singer Keith Relf was constantly drunk and took so much LSD that he sometimes no longer noticed that there were other people in the concert halls besides him. At the last shows Relf sang so bad that Page 1971 prevented the release of a live album from this era with a large number of lawyers. Peter Grant, the heavyweight manager of the Yardbirds, knew that Page was the only one in the band who would be able to do anything in the long term and secured the rights to the band name for him after the split. Back in London, the two were looking for new musicians to fill some outstanding live engagements in Scandinavia. Page's dream line-up consisted of John Entwistle (b.) And Keith Moon (dr.) Of The Who and Small Faces leader Steve Marriott, but The Who went back on tour pretty quickly, and Page backed out at Marriott, after his manager threatened to beat him if he didn't keep his hands off his protégé. Page's other dream singers Steve Winwood (Traffic) and Terry Reid also canceled, but Reid still recommended a hopeful provincial singer named Robert Plant. "When I heard Robert sing for the first time, I couldn't believe it," Page said a few years later on record. 'There had to be a catch somewhere. The guy sang so well he should have been a superstar by now. ”There was a radio link between Page and Plant at the first meeting, and Plant brought along his old friend John Bonzo Bonham. For the post of bass player John Paul Jones offered himself, just like Page an experienced London session musician. At the first rehearsal it only took a few bars of the Yardbirds number Train Kept A-Rollin, and Page knew that even with big names he couldn't get a better cast. They did the gigs in Northern Europe under the name The New Yardbirds, then played as a backing band for the US singer P.J. Proby recorded the LP Three Week Hero and went back to the studio after this warm-up exercise, this time to record his first album. Under the New Yardbirds banner, however, they did not want to continue and decided on a self-deprecating name that Page had once figured out with Moon and Entwistle in a beer mood. Lead Zeppelin (Bleizeppelin) was to be the name of the new group, and because one wanted to avoid the Americans saying Lied Zeppelin, they agreed on the spelling LED ZEPPELIN. Sex with octopuses Since there was hardly any money and no record deal yet, Led Zeppelin I had to be hammered in in October 1968 in a night-and-fog action. Page remembers: “We did the pure recordings in just 15 hours in the Olympic studios in London. We concentrated entirely on our blues roots and some riffs that came from my Yardbirds days. The sessions were incredibly spontaneous, "says John Paul Jones enthusiastically." The LP was more or less a studio recording of our Scandinavian set , hence the numerous cover versions. «Immediately after the album was finished, several shows were played in England, but the local audience was not yet ready for the raw, hard rock of the Zeps. However, Peter Grant sensed a huge market for the band in the USA and jetted to New York to negotiate one of the most legendary record deals in music history. Ahmet Ertegun, one of the owners of Atlantic Records, listened to a few live recordings and believed they had found the next big supergroup after Eric Clapton's Cream. Grant made an advance of dollars from his ribs - the highest sum a rock band had ever received from a record company. LED ZEPPELIN joined Atlantic worldwide for five years, but retained complete control of all artistic and commercial matters, which was extremely unusual at the time. Jones: “Peter Grant was a genius. In the late sixties, artists were treated like shit and extremely poorly paid. Peter was the first to recognize the obvious: that the musicians are the most important thing. Without them there can be no record industry. He never talked us into our songs, but instead concentrated on keeping us out of trouble and making sure that nobody shits us. When he played RockHard 181/182 1
2 appeared on the scene, you suddenly made money on tour. Lots of people hated him, but in the end he changed the entire music business. And we didn't even have a contract with him. He was just our manager, and that was the end of it. «Due to the large advance payment and aggressive promotional work by Atlantic, which touted LED ZEPPELIN as the new Cream and Jimi Hendrix Experience, many American magazines considered the band to be insubstantial hype . But when the zeppelin landed on a US stage for the first time on December 26, 1968 in Denver / Colorado, the audience quickly realized that these four Englishmen were actually living up to their advance praise. In the opening act for Vanilla Fudge and MC5, LED ZEPPELIN toured the clubs and played their way into a more violent frenzy evening after evening. When Page worked his '58 Fender Telecaster with a violin bow at Dazed And Confused or Bonham beat the drums with his bare hands during his ten-minute drum solo, the concertgoers screamed with enthusiasm. Grant had booked the band in strategically important clubs such as the Fillmores in San Francisco and New York or the Tea Party in Boston, from where the excellent live reputation of the group spread at lightning speed until the name LED ZEPPELIN attracted all rock fans in America Term was. In Boston you had to give encores for another hour after the regular one-hour set, and when you were supposed to play in front of Iron Butterfly, the toughest band in the world at the Fillmore East in New York, the Butterflys tried to prevent the Zeppelin performance. But Grant made sure that his boys could play, and the Led Zeppelin! - Choirs could still be heard halfway through the Butterfly gig. Page: “Almost everywhere we played, we caused mass hysteria. In Boston guys in front of the stage shook their heads to the beat. «Headbanging was born, and LED ZEPPELIN were celebrated as the new darlings of the rock community. Already on this first US tour there was a lot of smoking weed and drinking, which inevitably led to some - at the time still quite harmless - jokes. Page and Zep tour manager Richard Cole, who had also worked as a roadie for the Yardbirds, one evening filled two buckets with water and eggs and poured them over Plant and Bonham. Towards the end of the tour, the first food battles were held in hotel rooms. Cole: “We took whatever we could get: tomatoes, oranges, potatoes, cheese, donuts, cookies, nuts. After fifteen minutes, enough cholesterol was hanging on the walls to clog the arteries of half of San Francisco. ”The US press panned Led Zeppelin I, which appeared on January 12, 1969, and cursed the band as a rude heavy metal monster, yes hundreds of thousands of fans ran into record stores. By the time the LP hit the Billboard Top Ten in May, Atlantic had made $ 3.5 million for an album that cost just pounds including the cover. Jones: “We were the first band to go big without singles. Actually it was an impossibility, since we weren't present on TV either, but we only made it through word of mouth and underground radio stations that played the entire album in one go. ”Even interviews were almost exclusively given to small fanzines or alternative magazines, because Grant didn't like the perkiness of the big American papers. A life reporter wrote after some apparently quite turbulent days on the road with the Zeps full of disgust: When you enter cages in the zoo, see the animals up close, stroke their fur and connect with the energy behind the mysticism, then you smell their shit too. In home England the press reactions were friendlier, and the album rushed into the top ten in April. But after a sold out UK tour, LED ZEPPELIN returned to America. On their second US tour, which lasted from April to the end of May 1969, the Zeps often played as headliners, received four times the fee and expanded their regular program from 60 minutes to 120 minutes. But not only the gigs became more and more excessive. Cole: “The girls were everywhere and we saw them as a welcome relief from the boredom of touring life. Page preferred 14-, 15-year-olds, he was really crazy about girls who were still half children. A real groupie pecking order developed among the girls. If no one intervened, they scratched each other's eyes out. Drugs were also popular, although we almost never paid for them. Mostly they were gifts from fans. People came into the hotel, knocked on our doors and grinned and handed us a bag of cocaine or marijuana. The band rarely refused the presents. ”In Kansas City, Bonham was arrested for being seriously drunk in the city's finest hotel; in Pasadena he fell off the drum stool twice for emptying a four-foot-tall champagne bottle before and during the gig would have. The local promoter had given them to the band along with four live squids. The animals were put in the bathtub in the hotel together with two groupies and watched as the tentacles explored the vaginas of the perplexed girls. Bonham quickly developed into a band bully who was not too shabby with any prank. He shaved the pubic hair of groupies - preferring to use Plant's shaving utensils - and when Cole was banging a girl at the hotel one afternoon, Bonham doused the couple with two cans of baked, greasy beans. Peter Grant, ready for everyone to have fun that didn't harm his band, joined them and sprinkled the desperately slipping nudes with champagne. When you flew home to Hawaii after the tour and a short vacation with loads of groupies and alcohol, Jones, who stayed out of most of the mess, admonished his colleagues: “Folks, we could become the greatest band in the world. Hopefully we don't screw it up ... «sharks in the closet Atlantic had already pushed for a second LP during the tour. The debut album was barely in stores when LED ZEPPELIN were already recording new songs between the gigs. Page: “It was crazy. We were under extreme time pressure and had to compose songs in hotel rooms and airplanes. Sometimes we'd record the basic tracks of a song in London, the vocals in New York, the harmonica overdubs in Vancouver, and then we'd fly back to New York to mix. The recording process dragged on until I got sick of the numbers. «Led Zeppelin II received the finishing touches in London in June. Shortly thereafter, the band was already jetting through North America, where they swept mega-sellers like the Doors or their special friends Iron Butterfly from the stage at the summer festivals, earning princely dollars per performance on average. LED ZEPPELIN were the biggest shooting stars of the turbulent summer of 69 and enjoyed their success to the full. When you saw yourself at a Dayoff Ten Years After at the New York World's Fair, Page raved about their guitarist Alvin Lee until Bonham broke his collar. I'll make it cold! He shouted drunk, took a pack of orange juice from the backstage catering and tossed it from the side of the stage onto the fretboard acrobat. The bullet burst on the guitar and was so sticky to the strings and fingers that Lee was forced to slow down the last songs on the set. When Jeff Beck performed, Bonham went completely crazy. He persuaded Beck's drummer to give him his kit for a short time, played a confused solo and then ran to the front of the stage, where he stripped naked to the enthusiastic roar of the audience. Just in time, Grant sprinted up from behind, jammed Bonham with the words you stupid asshole! under his arm and ran with him to the nearest cloakroom, where he forced Bonham to meet strange, much too small RockHard 181/182 2
3 clothes to put on. A dozen policemen were about to storm the stage and hole the exhibitionist. The Edgewater Inn in Seattle became the Zeps favorite. The shed was anything but posh, but the musicians loved fishing from the balconies of their rooms in the lake that was directly behind the hotel. They shoved a trapped roach into all orifices of a 17-year-old groupie (Vanilla Fudge's Mark Stein is believed to have a video recording of this bizarre incident), and on a later tour some housekeeping staff were frightened to death when they came across a closet cleaning the rooms 30 small sharks met that the band had caught the day before. Otherwise, between the gigs, people contented themselves with relatively conventional sex practices, but sometimes got young female fans to blow the musicians one after the other under the bar tables. Cole: "We had the power to get girls to do the most extreme things, and we were young and crazy enough to use this advantage for ourselves." The fact that all musicians except Page were married and some of them already had children, apparently none played on tour major role. But LED ZEPPELIN didn't just make a name for itself through its sex escapades. After returning to Europe and opening up in Paris to promote Led Zeppelin II, Cole was arrested while scrambling along the outside wall of a hotel at a dizzying height. The tour manager, who the gendarmes thought was a jewel thief, had tried to get into the locked room of Bonham through the window, which had not responded even to a violent knock. Bonham was in a completely different place at the time, however, as he said the day after: “I probably had one too much to drink yesterday and ended up on a farm - 20 kilometers outside Paris. I don't know how I got there. When I woke up I heard cows and was lying on a couch in the kitchen. I called a taxi and I left as quickly as possible. «Dead pigeons in the bathtub Led Zeppelin II appeared on October 22, 1969 and was gilded in the USA within three weeks. The band had only existed for twelve months and had already reached the summit of Rock Olympus. Jones: »The special thing about LED ZEPPELIN was that there were no limits for us. After the Beatles and Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, norms no longer existed. We only did what we wanted to do and never did what our record company wanted. We experimented with every imaginable influence: folk rock, country, blues, Indian and Arabic sounds.None of the bands that emulated us really understood this versatility in our sound. «Page:» We managed to convey the spirit of early rock n roll in a modern form. The only band that tried something similar was Cream. Their improvisations sounded too lengthy in my ears, however. «The increasing number of fans loved completely different things about the four Englishmen: In contrast to sixties bands like the Beatles, whose sets rarely lasted longer than 40 minutes, LED ZEPPELIN played evenings for two to three and a half hours in the evening and benefited from a sound that was extremely loud, but also very differentiated. The Zeps were among the first groups to have their own P.A. went on tour. Other live plus points were Pages furious guitar solos, Jones extremely relaxed serenity and the erotic, almost androgynous charisma of Plant, who swept across the boards in skin-tight trousers and sang himself in ecstasy with a half-bare chest. The most spectacular concert highlight, however, was Bonham's lumberjack drum solo during Moby Dick, which grew over the years and finally lasted up to 40 minutes. Plant used to offer his drummer a banana with a fat grin afterwards, which over time led to slight tension between the two. The healthy mixture of demanding songs, irresistible catchy tunes and goose-skinned ballads was the guarantee for a varied, versatile show that only The Who had been able to put on before. The recipe for success worked: two studio cracks and two young, wild stage aces formed a coherent, highly explosive unit in which every musician had the same status - an absolute rarity at a time when drums and basses could hardly be heard on many LPs . When Led Zeppelin II was released, the band toured the United States again. The sensational sales of the two albums and the good terms of their record deal had made the four millionaires who could afford to fly in high-quality equipment from England. Page was already playing on Marshall amplifiers when they weren't even sold in the US. At the height of the fourth US tour, LED ZEPPELIN made guest appearances in New York's venerable Carnegie Hall, where otherwise rock bands were almost never allowed to perform, and played headline shows in front of people. Led Zeppelin II and especially the radio hit Whole Lotta Love made people flock to the completely overcrowded concerts. "Nothing can stop the boys now," Grant proclaimed again and again with a swell of pride, and even Roger Daltrey of The Who gave without envy to: "I know why nobody wants to perform with them: They are just too good!" After a show in San Francisco, a waterfall fell over the balcony of a Zeppelin hotel room. A pigeon brought by a groupie and died under unknown circumstances had blocked the drain of the bathtub and sent the incoming water on a journey after the party of alcohol and drugs had been banished to the realm of dreams. LED ZEPPELIN accepted the sumptuous bill with a shrug - they had made over a million dollars on their US shows alone in 1969. They swam so much in money that they could even turn down an offer from an American television company to play a New Year's Eve gig in Germany for another million, which was to be broadcast by satellite in cinemas around the world. Grant was the transmission technology too bad, which is why he canceled the incredulous astonished TV bosses. In order to smuggle the sudden rain of money past the wheel, the band and their manager, who contributed to a fifth of all income, bought large country estates in England as well as heaps of luxury cars, some of which were transported home by ship from America. Regardless of whether Aston Martins, Rolls-Royces or Maseratis - Page, Bonham and Grant in particular were constantly buying new luxury cars, and Bonham had thieving pleasure in stumbling into outrageously expensive car shops with two suitcases full of cash and trying out the noble cars to behave as anti-social as possible. While Bonham, Plant and Jones were hobby farmers on their lands to recover from the grueling touring life, Page, who was now in a relationship with French model Charlotte Martin (an ex-girlfriend of Eric Clapton), bought a villa late. Even in the Yardbirds days, Page was known as a shrewd, stingy businessman who turned every pound three times before spending it. Grant: "If you wanted to get rid of Jimmy, you just had to throw a two-pence piece in front of a moving bus." At the end of February 1970, LED ZEPPELIN embarked on a European tour that took them to Copenhagen, where a certain Eva von Zeppelin tried to prevent the four chaos from appearing. The band name in connection with the indecent stage show tarnishes the legacy of her respected family, the sprightly lady let the perplexed musicians know backstage. Because the blue-blooded Zeppelin threatened to take legal action, LED ZEPPELIN were renamed The Nobs for the evening - a London slang expression for snobs or cocks. During the European trip, Page bought loads of fragile antiques, which annoyed roadies squeezed into the equipment truck RockHard 181/182 3
4, and the band categorically refused to release singles outside of the US. The English Atlantic branch, which had speculated on a gold award for Whole Lotta Love, foamed. Although they were superstars in Europe for a long time, LED ZEPPELIN returned to North America in March 1970. Meanwhile, large halls were filled even without supporting acts, but in the southern states they also felt the envy and hatred of the rednecks. In Raleigh, North Carolina, police tried to slip drugs into the Zeps so that they could take the nouveau riche English. When it came to various near-fights between the band and drunken reactionaries, Grant hired two private detectives and eight bodyguards. The latter, together with Cole, took very rough action against bootleggers several times. The crew usually made short work of it, beat up anyone suspected of wanting to earn money with illegal live recordings, and destroyed the recording equipment. The police often let Cole and his gang of thugs have their way because they didn't feel like dealing with Grant, who had worked as a wrestler and bouncer at a young age. In Vancouver, however, the Zeppelin reaction force got the wrong one: after trampling on a sinfully expensive high-tech device and handing out a couple of straight lines, a supposed bootlegger turned out to be a government employee who was supposed to measure the noise level in the hall. Grant found it difficult to avoid arrest by bringing in a large chunk of cash. The band received little of these incidents. She had to come to terms with being hermetically sealed to protect herself from fanatics and the insane, and she discharged her frustrations about it in increasingly extreme sexual debauchery. Sometimes girls were handcuffed to hotel beds before going to the gig and the love games continued after the show. But at least they were usually kind enough to leave the girls a few joints and something to eat. APO riots in Cologne Back in Europe, Page and Plant hid themselves with their followers and some roadies in Bron-Y-Aur, a mountain hut in South Wales that Plant was later to buy up. Page: »We just wanted to get out, to gain some distance from the last tour. That a large part of the third album would be created in Bron-Y-Aur was not planned beforehand. But when we went hiking, we got a lot of ideas, and when we took the guitars out by the fireplace in the evening, many numbers came up by themselves. «Because LED ZEPPELIN didn't want a cold studio atmosphere, they rented the Headley Grange country house near by in May 1970 London and recorded the album there with the Rolling Stones mobile studio. The fact that a banister had to serve as firewood during the sessions did not disturb the homely atmosphere. It was extremely relaxed and even found the time to rappel down microphones in the chimney and pile guitar amps in the toilet to try out new sounds. Only the 25-minute progressive rock piece that Page had targeted in advance never got ready for series production. In mid-June, LED ZEPPE-LIN stayed in Iceland on behalf of the British government to represent Anglo-Saxon pop culture. The most lasting impression, however, was made when Bonham drove a borrowed VW Beetle into a lake to test how waterproof the car was. Next to him sat Jones, who turned white as soon as the water level inside the car began to rise - he had a good amount of hash hidden in his shoes, which he would have liked to save dry on the bank. Not only in the USA, but also in England, the Zeps were meanwhile the undisputed number one rock band. On June 28, the prestigious Bath Festival was headlined, the audience of which had come primarily for LED ZEPPELIN. Grant had called the weather service to find out the exact time of sunset and to send his boys on the boards at that exact time. When the opening act The Flock refused to release the stage at the agreed time, Grant had them turn off the juice and chase the musicians from his crew into the backstage area. While LED ZEPPELIN then put on an acclaimed three-hour gig with five encores, Grant destroyed the equipment of a bootleg film team by pouring water into the tape machine. The gruff colossus did not even shy away from attacking the hated parasite on their own territory. When he learned that a record store in London was making and selling bootlegs on a large scale, he took half the shop apart with some shady underworld characters that Cole had brought in. Ironically, the next day the shopkeeper called Grant, whom he had not recognized during the violent raid, to complain to the well-known manager of the big LED ZEPPELIN of his suffering about the bad, bad music business. One week after the Bath Festival, the second LED ZEPPELIN tour in Germany began. In the run-up to the first gig in Berlin's Deutschlandhalle, Plant had an attack of anxiety when he was told at the wall that Berlin was completely surrounded by GDR territory, and there were riots in Cologne because people tried to get into the half-full without tickets To get to the sports hall. The 1968 revolt did not stop at rock concerts either, the extra-parliamentary opposition demanded free concerts for the people and the lowest possible fees for the musicians. When the first panes finally broke and people weren't ready to buy the tickets at half the price, the later concert mogul Fritz Rau had to give in and let the angry crowd into the hall free of charge. The police used sheepdogs to prevent further escalation, but everything in front of the stage remained calm. In Germany, however, the Zeps cut some quiet numbers from the program because the audience was generally more restless and rougher than in England and America. But this tour also had its highlights, such as the gig in the Frankfurt Festhalle when LED ZEPPELIN performed in front of people - a German concert record. The next best performance was set a few hours later in a Frankfurt pub, where the band with Grant and Cole had 280 drinks in four hours. The series of sticky situations continued on the next, completely sold-out US tour, which began in August 1970. In Memphis, Tennessee, the musicians were made honorary citizens of the city. During the evening gig, however, the local promoter pulled a gun to get Grant to cancel the supposedly hectic concert. Cole: “There was something very surreal about the scenery. In the front rows were the Memphis dignitaries, and here our manager was on the verge of being blown away. It was like a bad movie. But Peter wasn't intimidated. He yelled at the guy to kindly shoot him if he had the courage. His counterpart was so surprised by this reaction that he froze as if moved by thunder. Our security could then disarm him and clap him on the wall. The band played for an hour without incident. "Jones:" A lot of people were afraid of Peter, but he was always fair as long as you didn't try to cheat him. He kept his word unconditionally, but expected the same loyalty from everyone else. There were tons of assholes in the business back then. Numerous local concert promoters printed their own tickets and sold them black in front of the hall. If Peter caught guys like that, he could get mad with rage. ”Meanwhile, the band's success curve continued to rise steeply. New York's Madison Square Garden raked in more than dollars for two shows, and when Led Zeppelin III hit stores shortly after the tour ended, the record was already gilded in the US and England just because of the pre-orders. Although the band played the British RockHard 181/182 4
5 economic medals rejected the Queen's Award For Industry for image reasons, the government praised the not particularly law-abiding foursome as one of England's most important export goods. In the surveys of the music magazines, the Zeps even outperformed the Beatles, which had recently dissolved. Only the mainstream US press still fervently hated the band. To quote from the L.A. Times: Their success may be due, at least in part, to the rising popularity of barbiturates and amphetamines among adolescent audiences - drugs that make users highly susceptible to deafening noise and wild, theatrical fidgeting. The hell of Milan Page and Plant stayed in Bron-Y-Aur again for the next album. This time, however, the right vibes did not set in there, which is why they moved to the brand new London Island studios in December and after Christmas to the tried and tested Headley Grange country house. There, by the crackling fireplace, Plant wrote lyrics called Stairway To Heaven, in which he tried to describe spiritual enlightenment. Page was so enthusiastic about the lyrics that he worked on the arrangement of the number on his own until late at night. Page: "I quickly realized that we had created a very extraordinary song, one that every composer would like to write once in a lifetime." After the recordings were completed in February 1971, the band decided not how to write the LP generally expected to name Led Zeppelin IV, rather to leave it untitled. Much to Atlantic's displeasure, they didn't even want to print the band name and order number on the record sleeve. Page: »What does LED ZEPPELIN mean? Nothing. We could also call ourselves The Cabbage Heads, it wouldn't make a difference. Only the music is important. People should buy the LP because they like the songs. The rest doesn't give a shit. «The relationship with the record company had already deteriorated significantly before, because LED ZEPPELIN refused to constantly release new singles in the USA. Grant wanted the fans to buy the full albums right away; a strategy whose success in the long term should prove him right, because apart from Whole Lotta Love, no Zeppelin single achieved even gold status in the USA. Grant finally got the new LP delivered to the press shop without a title or band name. The only print on the cover were four strange symbols that represented the band members. The pen in the circle stood for Plant's love of peace, the interwoven three circles symbolized Bonham's inner balance (but also had a striking resemblance to the Ballantine Beer logo), and the three ovals converging in a circle represented Jones' unshakable self-confidence. All three symbols came from from a runic book that Page had let his colleagues leaf through. Page himself, who liked to surround himself with the mysterious aura of a follower of the sorcerer Aleister Crowley, created the fantasy word Zoso for himself. Plant: »Jimmy took me aside and said to me: I'll explain the meaning of my sign to you now. After that, I will never speak to anyone about it again. Well, what can I say, I forgot what he whispered in my ear back then ... «while the release of the album, which is now commonly referred to as Untitled or Four Symbols, was delayed due to the dispute with Atlantic, LED ZEPPELIN went on tour again and played two shows in Ireland, where hardly any bands appeared because of the conflict in Northern Ireland in 1969. The aggressive atmosphere on the green island quickly carried over to the tour entourage. In Dublin, Cole witnessed a pissed-off hotel chef waving a carving knife in front of a hopelessly drunk Bonham because he had got on his nerves with late night snacks. Cole: "I had to take one of them out of circulation, otherwise Bonzo would have been slashed." Cole decided on the much less dangerous Bonham, which he knocked out with a targeted blow and dragged to his room. Cole and Grant's security paranoia grew, which led to concertgoers being beaten up for no reason during the subsequent tour of England.The musicians tried to intervene wherever they could, but ultimately they couldn't prevent the LED ZEPPELIN crew from having an extremely bad reputation from now on. Ever since the Hell s Angels, who were hired as security, stabbed a fan at a Rolling Stones gig in Altamont, California, the muscular guardians in front of the stage have been viewed with great suspicion. The fact that the gig on July 5, 1971 in the Vigorelli Velodrome in Milan turned into the darkest chapter in the band's live history was not due to Zeppelin security. When isolated groups of festival-goers began to throw objects because they no longer wanted to wait for the headliner LED ZEPPELIN, and APO-Moves at the gates refused to pay entrance fees, like in Cologne, police officers attacked people with tear gas and batons Come on. While extremists from all political camps fought street battles with the police in the alleys around the stadium, at first there were only isolated riots in the Velodrome. It wasn't until a tear gas grenade exploded in front of the stage during Dazed And Confused that the band understood what was going on. When the first bottles hit the police at Whole Lotta Love, a moderate civil war broke out in the stadium. Plant: “I wanted to calm the crowd, but the fucking cops just kept beating people up. What a fucking nightmare! ”Tear gas attacks were answered with stones, bottles, and Molotov cocktails. After all, the mostly peaceful festival-goers had no choice but to climb onto the stage to escape the increasingly brutal police officers. At this point the band had long barricaded themselves in a backstage room and feared for their lives. Roadies trying to get the equipment to safety got caught between the front lines and were seriously injured. When LED ZEPPELIN were escorted from the catacombs by a special task force after an hour, a state of emergency had been declared around the stadium. 40 people had to be admitted to the surrounding hospitals. It was the terrible end to the last concert that LED ZEPPELIN ever played in Italy. The incident in Milan made the paranoia in the band camp even greater. On the next US tour in August, the musicians rarely left their hotel rooms and were sealed off from the outside world by a monstrous security apparatus. Death threats came in almost every day, putting the security on high alert. Grant instructed the concert promoters to put up barriers in front of the stage in their halls - a novelty at a time when you were still sitting at rock concerts and were kindly warned by ushers if you belched too loudly between songs. The band didn't get along very well with the restriction of their freedom of movement. In particular, homesick Bonham tried to make it clear with increasingly drastic failures how much the trappings pissed him off on tour. The temporary height of the abnormality was reached when he shit in the shoe of a groupie who was lying in bed with a crew member. At the end of September 1971 a pleasant change in the tour schedule was announced: LED ZEPPELIN flew to Japan for six gigs for the first time. However, even in the land of the eternal smile, the Zeppelin clan did not have to follow rules of behavior. In a disco, Bonham peed on a DJ's head from a balustrade because no Zeppelin song had yet been played, and the band was banned for life from the renowned Hilton Hotel in Tokyo. Jones had been dragged into the corridor in deep sleep by his colleagues, where he was left lying. The polite hotel staff then built around the RockHard 181/182 5
6 comatose musicians open some screens so that they could sleep in peace. The next morning, however, the entire party was politely expelled from the house. In some of the other hotels that visited LED ZEPPELIN on their trip to Japan, the musicians processed the furniture with samurai swords into kindling, and in the pubs people drank so excessively that the serving geishas, who were not allowed to turn down a drink, were clearly ahead After work, drunk and drunk, had to be exchanged for shy kitchen maids. In Osaka, the band offered Phil Carson, the head of the British Atlantic office, to take over the bass for a song. When the overjoyed honorary woofer kicked off, however, he was suddenly all alone on the stage. With a red head he sweated a bass solo out of his ribs, which was politely ignored by the confused audience. The next evening, the Zeps went one step further by tearing all of Carson's clothes off in a restaurant and sending him back to the hotel naked, as nature had made him. Shortly before, a memorable fight had broken out between Bonham and Plant. Bonham blew his singer's lip because the millionaires couldn't agree on who should pay a private fuel bill over £ 35. Bonham finally went too far when he pooped into the purse of an unsuspecting groupie. The fourth LED ZEPPELIN album was released on November 8, 1971 and broke all sales records. The disc achieved precious metal status within a very short time, the next England shows were partly sold out within a few minutes, and Stairway To Heaven developed into the most played radio song of all time. LED ZEPPELIN reached commercial heights that not even their manager had thought possible. But at the same time the first cracks appeared in the image of the apparently perfectly oiled machine of success: the spiral of violence in front of and behind the stage was turning faster and faster, drug consumption was taking on questionable forms, and the countless envious people were just waiting for the Zeps to stumble. Dark clouds were gathering on the horizon. Sheikhs in full frenzy In 1972, just three years after the first album was released, LED ZEPPELIN were the biggest band in the world. Even the Rolling Stones, number one in rock for half an eternity, were left behind when Robert Plant (v.), Jimmy Page (g.), John Paul Jones (b.) And John Bonzo Bonham (dr.) Began June set out for their eighth USA tour. The fourth, untitled album with the megahit Stairway To Heaven sold millions of copies, and many Zeppelin shows were sold out within minutes. With the crowd, the pressure on the musicians and their crew also increased. At the first of two shows in New York's Madison Square Garden, the atmosphere boiled so high that part of the stage collapsed. Here and in many other places there were fights between overwhelmed security people and euphoric fans who couldn't get close enough to their heroes. In order to be able to offer his pupils the best possible protection, at least away from the stage, Zeppelin manager Peter Grant developed an extraordinarily sophisticated security system for the time. He hired ex-police officers who flew ahead of the tour entourage and met the local police chiefs at the venues to work out common shielding concepts. Most of the time, the Zeps limousine convoy was escorted from the airport to the hall by police cars, which flanked the heavy luxury vehicles with flashing lights and wailing sirens. On particularly precarious stretches, entire streets were closed to the Zeps, and every step in the halls was planned in advance according to the general staff. Before each show, the musicians were given detailed instructions as to which corridors they had to use after the last encore in order to jump into the limousines with their engines running. There were usually only a few minutes between the last guitar whine and reaching the next highway. When the fans left the hall, the motorcade was usually already approaching the airport. Grant had rented a two-seater jet plane for this tour in order to be able to fly from one gig to the next more comfortably. Thanks to nebulous special agreements with the American customs authorities, the considerable drug stocks in the hold of the plane and the suspiciously young groupies on the cozy sofas were spared from any controls. The 72 US tour was the first on which LED ZEPPELIN imposed their own business conditions on concert organizers. Up until then, it had been customary for local promoters to put 50 percent of the income into their own pockets. "Now we're turning the tables," Grant announced. "The days when bands were fobbed off with a few bucks are over! We take the risk, book the hall, pay the support bands and the promoter. We want 90 percent of the revenue for that! «At first many organizers laughed at Grant for this, but in the end even the toughest concert impresors had to give in. LED ZEPPELIN were the hottest sensation of the summer and easily filled the largest halls. The Zeps got their 90 percent everywhere, collecting up to dollars per evening. When an organizer tried to slip the wrong number of visitors on Grant, the heavyweight ex-wrestler picked up the phone: he asked the fire department about the maximum capacity of the hall and asked for the corresponding money. There was no organizer who refused to pay. "Peter turned the music business upside down," recalls John Paul Jones. "When other bands saw what we could do, they made the same demands. Within a very short time the 90/10 model caught on everywhere. «After the US tour, the band jetted to Japan for a few dates, before Page and Plant in Bombay rearranged versions of various versions with some top-class Indian musicians and a state-of-the-art quadrophonic machine Recorded Zeppelin numbers. The recordings, however, did not please the sound perfectionist Page and were therefore never published. 22 years later, Page and Plant were to start a similar project with No Quarter, which this time turned out to be more to Page's satisfaction. The next LED ZEPPELIN album Houses Of The Holy had already been recorded in spring 1972 at various locations in England with the Rolling Stones Mobile studio. Some of the songs were recorded in Mick Jagger's country house, where the studio crew made fun of broadcasting the nocturnal love game of a technician via the house system at full volume to all the other rooms. Since the release of the LP was delayed further and further due to the artwork problems that had meanwhile become almost a habit, the Zeps had a few weeks off in autumn, in which Bonham in particular showed himself from his good side again. One day he and a buddy tried to break into the London office of Zeppelin press agent Bill Harry while he was completely drunk in order to abuse him a little. However, since Harry had barricaded themselves with wise foresight, the duo stumbled into the branch of the renowned record company Chrysalis, which was housed in the same building, threw some furniture down the stairs, broke open various doors and finally wrapped the manager with tape until he could looked like a mummy. Then they drove with their helpless victim to the city center, where they left the label boss to his fate in a busy shopping street. But the mummy was only the beginning of a film-worthy trip to the Orient. Bonham collected a few more liquor corpses in his local pub, put the whole gang in Arabic costumes and annoyed the waitresses by getting his clan to raise their caftans at every opportunity and show the genitals underneath. When the shock effect had worn off, Bonham was finally on top form. He drove with the disguise RockHard 181/182 6
7th chaos in several Rolls-Royces to the hyper-expensive Mayfair Hotel and rented the Maharajah suite on behalf of a tour group of oriental princes. The servants greeted the high-ranking guests in awe and showed them the way to their apartments. In the hotel corridors one shone once again with aggressive exhibitionism, this time in front of a female tour company from the USA. However, the old ladies turned out to be unexpectedly vigorous and chased the drunken would-be princes through the hotel with drawn umbrellas. Bonham and his cronies fled to their suite, to which they had 50 steaks a little later, which ended up everywhere but not in their stomachs. Before long, the precious furniture, tapestries and even a stuffed tiger were destroyed beyond recognition. The hotel management was horrified and hurriedly removed, and Bonham was banned from all major London hotels. A little later, the drummer finally messed up with his press agent. After tearing off his pocket in a restaurant, Bill Harry handed in his resignation. But Harry's successor B.P. Fallen didn't have much to laugh about. That the Zeps billeted a pony and chickens in his hotel room was one of the more harmless jokes. The band didn't feel like the press and promotion and didn't even shrink from pouring ice cubes into the neck of their shirts for hated journalists. On the sold-out European tour that began at the end of November 1972, Bonham again gave full throttle. When a Volvo with 16 drunk members of the Zeppelin crew was stopped by the gendarmerie in Nantes, France, one of the police officers stated succinctly: Gentlemen, you smell of alcohol. - Alcohol? Said Bonham indignantly. We haven't even started yet! If you need a real reason to arrest us, let's drink for a few hours first! The police locked everyone in the car, but quickly let them go again because the prison guards couldn't stand the yelling in the cells. Although the owner of the hotel in which the Zeps resided at the time asked on his knees to keep the crazy people away, the funny company was driven back to their bed castle in police cars. Bonham: “Why am I doing all this? Because waiting on tour pisses me off. The longer I sit around, the more restless I get. As soon as I crouch behind my kit, everything is fine, but during the day my nerves are often on edge. I'm just scared of playing badly in the evenings. «Houses Of The Holy was released on March 28, 1973, topped all the important charts and achieved gold status in Germany just because of the pre-orders. The LP showed LED ZEPPELIN more eager to experiment than ever before, but with The Song Remains The Same, Over The Hills And Far Away and No Quarter it also contained some catchy tunes that cast a spell over even the most conservative rock fan. Orgies in the flying palace In May 1973 the Zeps' largest tour of North America to date began. At Tampa Stadium in Florida, the US record of the Beatles was broken with over spectators. The 33-person stage crew installed a gigantic technical arsenal evening after evening. Pyros, smoke machines, rotating mirrors, strobe lights and the world's first stadium-compatible laser show carried hundreds of thousands of fans into a breathtaking dream world. LED ZEPPELIN made millions of dollars more than any other band. Jones: "We had the feeling that we had finally cracked America." This tour was also accompanied by scandals. Page caused a sensation with his tumultuous affair with L.A., 14-year-old model Lori Maddox, and Jones went to his room in New Orleans with a girl to smoke a few joints; after his visit had managed to set the bed on fire and the fire brigade had arrived, it turned out that the alleged girl was a transvestite. Years later, Jones was teased by his bandmates for failing to see through the optical illusion. In Texas, the Zeps rented a ranch and filled it with drugs and groupies. After the first orgies, the owner, a redneck cowboy of the purest quality, suddenly stood in front of the door - a Bible in his left hand, a rifle in his right. He wanted the British because they had girls with them they weren't married to and were also behind on their rent. When the gunslinger began to throw beer cans in the air and shoot them, the Zeps and the girls fled through the back exit, climbed into a rented station wagon and raced away through the closed gate. The band jet was called to another airport by car phone in order not to encounter the police who had been alerted by the rancher. The last gigs of the first tour section took place in the much more liberal California. When Bonzo's 25th birthday was celebrated on May 31, ex-Beatles guitarist George Harrison tossed the birthday cake in the face of the birthday boy and was then thrown into the hotel pool by Bonham. Because some of the flights were quite turbulent due to bad weather, tour manager Richard Cole rented a 40-seat Boing 720B for the second part of the US tour. The plane, which was named Starship 1, belonged to singer Bobby Sherman and one of the Monkees and was specially equipped for bands. Our flying palace, as Plant called it, contained not only a television and counter, but also an artificial fireplace, a fully equipped study, a fur-covered bed and an organ. The fun cost dollars a week, but guaranteed the band even higher levels of comfort and more storage space for groupies, alcohol and drugs.A flight attendant later recalled: "Sometimes when we were cleaning up we found folded 100-dollar bills with cocaine in them." The Zeps only stayed in five or six major cities, from where they flew to all the other gigs. If you wanted to stay somewhere longer, you reserved separate areas in the musicians' favorite nightclubs via radio. Bonham once managed to get stuck on the on-board toilet because the vent was not properly adjusted. Despite this incident, however, his fear of flying improved. When he was sitting at the front of the pilot and was allowed to take the wheel from time to time, he was hardly afraid of a crash. Towards the end of the tour, one of the strangest companies in the band's history began. Grant, who worked as an actor in the sixties, wanted to have a film made about LED ZEPPELIN. He hired Joe Massot, a friend of Page's partner Charlotte Martin, who worked out a rather confused concept, accompanied the band on tour and recorded the performances on July 27-29 at Madison Square Garden. Massot was allowed to follow the musicians to the loo, but had to stay outside when, on the second show, during Bonham's 20-minute drum solo with Moby Dick, a girl blew the other musicians backstage. That same night, dollars that Cole had deposited there disappeared from the safe of the band hotel. He always carried plenty of cash with him because Page liked to buy antiques and Bonham cars between gigs, and the drug dealers also wanted to be paid in cash. The musicians' passports and credit cards were still in the safe, but there was no trace of the banknotes. The Zeps' greatest concern, however, was not about the coal, but about the drugs. When the FBI was on the march to investigate the largest hotel safe robbery in New York history, all coke and hashish supplies were disposed of in a feverish hurry before the special troops searched the rooms of the Zeppelin clan. Cole, who was the only one with a key to the safe deposit box, was interrogated for a long time, but after a polygraph test found innocent and RockHard 181/182 7
8 released. Grant, on the other hand, was arrested because, in a fit of madness, he destroyed the camera of a maddened photographer for the New York Post in the hotel foyer, which was teeming with police officers. An excerpt from the subsequent press conference later appeared in the Zeppelin film. Before the flight back to England, the FBI had the band's luggage rummaged through the New York airport without the knowledge of the musicians, slitting open some of Bonham's boots. The robbery was never resolved, and Grant later successfully sued the hotel for damages. In October 1973, Massot began filming some fantasy scenes that would characterize the four musicians. He drove his staff out to the Zeps mansions, but didn't expect the quartet to have prepared a bit for the shoot. Jones: “Suddenly the camera team was in the doorway. They asked me if I had thought about my part, whereupon I must have looked pretty stupid out of the laundry. I ended up renting a couple of horses and doing some riding around the area. A lot of people think we meticulously planned the fantasy scenes in advance. In reality, we had to come up with something pretty spontaneously. No wonder the scenes got so silly. ”Jones was playing the child-loving leader of a band of robbers, Plant freed a pretty princess, and Page scrambled one night behind his Boleskin House near Loch Ness, a Scottish country estate that had once belonged to Aleister Crowley Cliff up. Only Bonham was filmed doing relatively ordinary activities: he played drums with his son Jason, danced with his wife Pat, patted his award-winning breeding cattle and raced down the slopes in a hot rod at 150 mph. But Bonham, like his colleagues, was not very enthusiastic about Massot's strange concept: “Who cares about my bulls? The guy should rather take us to a pub and film us filling up. "The only thing that Bonham found amusing was Page's mountaineering, which got the sickly guitarist completely out of breath:" When the guy finally eats meat, he would be strong enough to to climb the alps. I would even sacrifice one of my cattle so that he could finally stop this vegetarian shit. ”When Massot showed a first test version of the film in the spring of 1974, the band was horrified. Many of the live recordings were so poorly dubbed that Grant fired the director a little later. Since there was no contract between Grant and Massot and all rights to the recordings were with the band, they tried to fob Massot off with a few thousand pounds. The frustrated filmmaker then hid part of his recordings; In return, Zeppelin security stole his expensive German cutting machine. In the end, Massot got a reasonably adequate severance payment, and the film reels and cutting machine changed hands again. Massot: “As individuals, the Zeps were extremely sensitive and thoughtful people, but you could hardly stand with them in a heap. Working with them was hellishly difficult, sometimes even impossible. «Massot's difficult inheritance came from the Australian Peter Clifton, who had previously filmed Jimi Hendrix, Ten Years After, Cream and the Small Faces, among others. He also later said: »led ZEPPELIN, whether individually or in a collective, were the rudest and most arrogant guys I have met in 25 years of filmmaking. They behaved horribly and got away with it because they were so commercially successful. They had an incredible aura, but it only obscured the fact that apart from Jones they were total assholes. ”Clifton had not had it easy with the camera-shy English. Once the band threw all of his room furnishings into the hotel pool so that he was thrown out and had to stay in another establishment. And Massot's preparatory work didn't exactly knock Clifton off his stool, either. The shows at Madison Square Garden, which formed the centerpiece of the flick, had been filmed so poorly that most of the film reels were declared unusable. Clifton managed to save the live sequences with a stroke of genius: In complete secrecy, he had the band driven to Shepperton Studios in Surrey, where the Zeps often rehearsed before their tours. While the New York material was played on a huge screen, the musicians stood opposite it in the same clothes as at the gigs on a carefully prepared stage and imitated their stage acting to playback the live recordings. In the middle between the screen and the stage, Clifton stood with his cameras and re-filmed the show. Later he would cut the useful snippets from New York between the new recordings so skillfully that the impression of an authentic live atmosphere was surprisingly well preserved and there were no Zeppelin concerts. Instead, the band announced the founding of their own label Swan Song in January. The five-year contract with Atlantic had expired, but the Swan Song releases continued to be distributed by the New York industry giant. Plant: »We wanted to make known bands that we liked. Swan Song was by no means an ego trip for us. But it was also an important step for Zeppelin. Finally there was no more trouble with the artwork department or label employees who constantly wanted to release singles against our will. "Grant:" We had the idea for Swan Song on the second album when Atlantic copies failed because they were Jimmy's instructions on the Mastertape did not follow correctly. ”At the Swan Song housewarming party in Manhattan, Atlantic had only been able to find black geese instead of the planned white swans and put them in the hotel pond. The animals were run over after Bonham and Cole chased them out onto the street. Instead of apologizing for his staff, Grant yelled at an Atlantic rep: Do you think we don't know the fucking difference between fucking swans and fucking geese? We all live on farms, you wanker! Swan Song signed Pretty Things, ex-Stone The Crows singer Maggie Bell and Bad Company, the new band of former Free singer Paul Rodgers and ex-Mott The Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs. The self-titled debut album Bad Company went five times platinum in the US; a success that was celebrated more than once with food battles between the Bad-Cos and the Zeps in sinfully expensive hotels. Motorcycle races in the hotel corridor As the year progressed, the Zeps finally concentrated on their music again. The double album Physical Graffiti was created in the Olympic Studios in London and in the country house Headley Grange in Hampshire, where the third and fourth LP had already been recorded. Page: »As always, we had more than the required 40 minutes of material. It was enough for one and a half LPs, so we decided on a double album and dug up a few older songs that we had recorded for the previous records. ”In October 1974, LED ZEPPELIN shocked the press when they came up for the release party of the Pretty Things album Silk Torpedo hired half- and completely naked waitresses who wallowed in cherry jelly, were sacrificed on altars or stripped in nuns' clothes. Jones went so against the grain of the sometimes glamorous, sometimes terrifyingly unprofessional Swan Song activities that he was on the verge of pulling the emergency brake. Grant: “He came to me one afternoon and said he'd had enough and would rather be a choirmaster in Winchester Cathedral. We talked about it for a long time, and as we parted, I said to him: "If you want to go, go. But think about it carefully beforehand." Jones took a short break, but as LED ZEPPELIN at the end of November for the next tour began to rehearse, he returned to the band; the prospect of getting back on the road was too tempting. After two warm-up gigs in Rotterdam and Brussels at the beginning of January, the 1975 concert year would almost be RockHard 181/182 8
9 ended again. Page broke the ring finger of his left hand trying to hold the tube door open to a straggler at Victoria Station in London. Instead of taking it easy, Page gritted his teeth and made the two-month US tour with just three fingers. Fortunately, there were only a few songs like Since I've Been Loving You or Dazed And Confused that were not playable and had to be replaced by other tracks. LED ZEPPELIN were finally back on stage after 18 months and had lost none of their magic despite Page's injury. The tickets for the US gigs were sold within a few hours, a watt light system and a monstrous watt P.A. brought the stadiums to boil over. Physical Graffiti appeared during the tour on February 24th (Swan Song also had problems completing the artwork), went straight to platinum status in the US and grossed twelve million dollars there in the first year. In the wake of the oriental-inspired over-song Kashmir, which all band members who are still alive today call it their favorite Zeppelin track, the other five albums also entered the Billboard charts again - a feat that no other band had achieved before. However, as on previous tours, LED ZEPPELIN not only attracted peaceful concertgoers. In the area around the performance in Greensboro / North Carolina, drunk fans rioted and severely damaged three of the five band limousines. The drivers of the other two cars then refused to wait for the musicians until the end of the concert. Grant yelled at them and tried to buy the cars from them. When the frightened chauffeurs replied that they were not authorized to do so, Grant shouted: Then I'll just steal them from you, you assholes! and chased the drivers away. After the gig, the Zeppelin clan squeezed into the two limousines, one of which Grant personally drove to the airport. The performance in Boston, on the other hand, did not even take place because young people who camped next to the ticket booths the night before the start of advance sales threw in so many window panes while drunk that the city administration canceled the show for fear of major riots. The excesses in the band camp also took on more and more extreme forms. The Continental Hyatt Hotel in Hollywood has been called Riot House in music circles since a Zeppelin visitation lasting several days. Bonham pounded up and down the hallways on a motorcycle several times, threw half a dozen televisions onto Sunset Boulevard, and only kept the white grand piano from falling because the box didn't fit through the window. When the police arrived, Bonham was crouching peacefully in his room in front of the goggle box - foresight he had only smashed the roadies' TVs. After a show in New Orleans, the Zeps and Bad Company exchanged their groupies because the planes of the two bands happened to be standing next to each other in the hangar and the musicians began to get on the nerves of the musicians the girls after a few orgiastic nights. Grant paid huge bribes in the USA for years so that the police would keep the angry fathers of the countless underage Zeppelin groupies off his body or not arrest Bonham if he let his pants down on stage again. The drummer had one of his greatest moments when he and Page were invited to a party in New York by Mick Jagger and Ron Wood. When the two limousines that had been ordered pulled up, the Rolling Stones members got into the first car with Page and called Bonham to please follow them with Cole in the second car. Bonham, pissed off that the other musicians had moved him, told his driver to pull up on the highway next to the other limo. After getting Mick Jagger to open the window with a show of hands, he aimed a Beretta at the occupants of the car and yelled: You pigs, I'll show you! To just leave me there! Jagger, Wood and Page threw themselves to the ground screaming, their driver hit the gas in panic and ran over two red lights. The '75 US tour was the first on which some crew members used heroin. Page and Cole in particular fell for the devil's stuff, and although they didn't inject it, just sniffed it, they weren't spared from side effects. Page, who wasn't particularly robust anyway, got sick more often and often felt exhausted beyond measure. It would take him many years to get completely clean again. Heroin use and the constant death threats, including those from the ranks of the Charles Manson cult, led to Cole's security paranoia finally taking on morbid traits. To feel more secure, he hired John Bindon, a dumb thug from the London underworld, who from then on acted as bodyguard for the Zeps and finally ruined the already badly cracked reputation of the band security. Bindon, who had previously played the villain in Mick Jagger's film performance and the cinematic implementation of the Who album Quadrophenia, ensured with his extremely aggressive demeanor that the mood within the crew continued to deteriorate and ultimately even to fights between Cole and Grant came. The climax of the anger came when Grant, fearing overzealous fans, handed out hammers, with which Cole, Bindon and several other security guards sat under the stage during the shows and hit the knees of the audience in the front row. Many of the former crew members still don't talk about their time with the Zeps to this day. The amusing moments of the tour were mostly provided by outsiders. When Grant approached Bob Dylan at a press reception in LA and said to him: Hi, I'm Peter Grant, the manager of LED ZEPPELIN, the usually very friendly and reserved folk poet replied dryly: Stay with me just with your fucking problems off your neck. When the last shows were completed at the end of March, the Zeps were on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Although they had earned five million dollars within two and a half months, sold tickets in the New York area alone and occasionally flew on short vacations with the Starship 1, the fear of attacks and the explosive mixture of hard drugs and a harsh crew climate had emptied all the energy batteries to the point. Back in England, they played five gigs in front of a total of spectators at London's Earls Court at the end of May, before another longer live break was taken. Apart from two festival gigs, the Earls Court shows were the last appearances the Zeps made in England. Because the British tax authorities were on their toes with top tax rates of 87 percent, the band turned their backs on their homeland. In order not to spend more than six months a year in the UK and thus become taxable, the musicians jetted to France or Switzerland and eventually all settled on the island of Jersey in the English Channel, where they did little more than boredom to drown in alcohol. Bonham drove his Rolls-Royce across the island for hours during the day. When he started cleaning the car with a sponge and soapy water in front of a pub one afternoon, an elderly passerby in a fine pinstripe suit said condescendingly: Unbelievable.This is the first time I've seen a Rolls-Royce owner wash their vehicle themselves. Bonzo then freaked out completely and kicked the Rolls until it was covered with bumps. Now, for the first time, you've seen someone demolish his damn Rolls himself, he grinned at the perplexed pensioner. Now get out of here and mind your own shit! In midsummer, Page and Plant went on vacation to Morocco with their families. When the Plants then traveled to Rhodes, the band met the first of a series of strokes of fate. On August 4th, the Plants SUV with Robert's wife Maureen at the wheel arrived on the way to the island by Roger RockHard 181/182 9
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