Led Zeppelin to Visit ‘Letterman’

(Reprinted from Rolling Stone)

No word whether rockers will perform on December 3rd show

John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led  Zeppelin will visit the Late Show With David Letterman when the  show broadcasts from Washington D.C. on December 3rd. The rockers, along  with Letterman, are among  the recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, which take place  December 2nd. There’s no word on if the band will play on the show.

A History Of Short-Lived Band Reunions


(Reprinted from Rolling Stone)

Not all band reunions last – Here’s a look at some that seemed to be over before  they began

By Andy Greene

Earlier this month, Neil Young confirmed widespread suspicion that last year’s Buffalo Springfield reunion was over after a mere seven-show tour. “I have to be able to  move forward,” he said.  “I can’t be relegated. I did enough of it for right then.” But they aren’t the first band to reform with great fanfare, only to collapse again pretty quickly. Here’s a look at some others.

Led Zeppelin

Break-Up: 1980. The group dissolved immediately after the death of drummer Jon Bonham.

Reunion: The surviving members reformed for the rare special  occasion in the 1980s and 1990s, but in December of 2007 they did their first  full concert since the break-up at London’s 02 Arena.

Duration: One night. Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were  extremely interested in a reunion, but Robert Plant had absolutely no interest.  In 2008 the group rehearsed with Steven Tyler and Myler Kennedy and even began  putting venues on hold for a tour, but ultimately came to their  senses.

Journey with Steve Perry

Break-Up: The group dissolved after their tour in support of  1986’s Raised On Radio. Frontman Steve Perry was exhausted and wanted  to take a long break.

Reunion: They played a couple of songs in 1991 at a Bill  Graham memorial show, but Perry shocked the band in 1996 when he agreed to  reform the group. They recorded the new album Trial By Fire and a  reunion tour was in the works. Their single “When You Love A Woman” even became  a big hit.

Duration: One album. Perry injured his hip while hiking  in Hawaii and required hip replacement surgery. He refused to set a date for the  procedure, delaying any shows. This caused tremendous tension within the band,  and in 1998 they hit the road with a replacement singer. Perry hasn’t sung a  note in public with Journey in over twenty years.

The Fugees

Break-Up: The Fugees spent five years struggling to  break big, only to implode almost immediately after becoming superstars. Looking  back, it was pretty inevitable. Wyclef Jean was dating Lauryn Hill, but he was  also seriously involved with another woman while they were together. At the same  time, Hill felt that she wasn’t getting enough credit for her contributions to  the band. Pras felt the same way. They split in 1997, about a year after The  Score hit shelves.

Reunion: Much to the surprise of pretty much everybody,  the group reformed in September 2004 to play Dave Chapelle’s Block Party in  Brooklyn. The following year they launched a European tour, and even released  the new single “Take It Easy.”

Duration: A little over a year, with large gaps of  inactivity within that. Everyone hated the new single, and Lauryn caused  tremendous tension by pulling an Axl on the tour and repeatedly coming out late.  To the surprise of nobody, they pulled the plug in early 2006.


Van Halen (With Sammy Hagar)

Break-Up: Believe it or not, tension surrounding the  soundtrack to Twister caused Sammy Hagar to leave Van Halen in 1995.  The group had just finished a long world tour, and a worn out Hagar was  unwilling to fly right back to the studio and continue work on a song for the  disaster movie. When all was said and done, Hagar left the band.

Reunion: An ill-fated LP and tour with Gary Cherone  convinced the Van Halen brothers that they needed their old singer back. Both  sides had talked a lot of shit over the years, but they put that aside to record  some new songs for a compilation and launch a tour in 2004.

Duration: A little under a year. The tour coincided  with the peak of Eddie Van Halen’s alcoholism. Hagar and Eddie had  horrific clashes on tour (detailed in Sammy Hagar’s amazing autobiography) and  neither party has spoken with each otter since the final show in November of  2004. That’s also the last time Eddie spoke with original bassist Michael  Anthony.

Electric Light Orchestra

Break-Up: In the summer of 1986, the group (now reduced to a  trio) toured in support of their new disc Balance of Power, and then  called it a day. Members of the group carried on in ELO Part II, but the group’s  leader Jeff Lynne was done. (Even later, The Orchestra rose from the ashes of  ELO Part II, but they were an offshoot of an offshoot and barely worth  mentioning.)

Reunion: Lynne always saw himself as the Trent Reznor of  ELO, and when he reformed the group in 2000 for the new album Zoom he  didn’t invite any of the original guys back – though keyboardist Richard Tandy  did wind up playing on one song. For some reason, Lynne was under the impression  the group could still fill arenas and a massive tour was announced.

Duration: One album and one TV concert. This was like  one of those 1950s rockets that crashed a few moments after takeoff. The group  did a single show for PBS, but the tour sold horribly and the entire thing was  called off before it even started. Lynne’s done a pretty good job of staying out  of the spotlight ever since, though he remains a busy producer.

The Supremes

Break-Up: Diana Ross left The Supremes in 1970, but  they carried on with new singer Jean Terrell and continued to score hits  and tour for a few years. By 1977 things had slowed down considerably and they  called it quits.

Reunion: Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong briefly put  aside their differences with Diana Ross at the 1983 Motown 25th Anniversary  Concert. (Founding member Florence Ballard died in 1976.) They performed  “Someday We’ll Be Together.” Three years later, Wilson released her memoir and  it was sharply critical of Ross, driving the two even further apart. In 1999  Ross reached out to Wilson and Birdsong about a reunion tour for the following  year, exactly 30 years after they had last played a full show together.

Duration: This one went really, really poorly.  According to multiple reports, Ross was offered around $15 million, Wilson was  offered $2 million and Birdsong $1 million. They asked for more, but were  ultimately replaced by two latter-day Supremes who had no history with Ross.  This resulted in a flood of negative press, and ticket buyers seemed to have  little interest in this “reunion.” The tour forged ahead, but was canceled after  less than a month.


Break-Up: Cream crammed a lot of music into their two-year  career. According to legend, Eric Clapton decided to break up in the band in  1968 when he first heard the Band’s debut LP Music From Big Pink, and  when he read a scathing review of the group’s music in Rolling Stone by  Jon Landau. In November of 1968 they played a farewell show at Madison Square  Garden.

Reunion: The group played in 1993 at their induction into  the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but that didn’t lead to any other activity until  2005. At the time Jack Bruce was recovering from liver cancer, and Ginger Baker  was struggling with arthritis.  To Clapton, it seemed like it was  now or never. They played four shows at the Royal Albert Hall in May of 2005,  followed by three shows at Madison Square Garden that October.

Duration: Five months. The reunion fizzled out during  the three-night stand in New York. “In many ways, I wish we had left it at the  Royal Albert Hall,” Clapton wrote in his memoir. “But the offer was too good to  refuse … My heart had gone out of it, and also a certain amount of animosity  had crept back in.” They haven’t played together since.


Break-Up: In 1997 Genesis made the ill-fated decision to  carry on without Phil Collins. Former Stiltskin singer Ray Wilson was brought  into the band, and they released the new LP Calling All Stations. The  disc sold extremely poorly, as did their tour. Ticket sales were so bad in  America that the entire tour was called off. The tour ended in May of 1998 in  Germany, and the group quietly ended afterwards.

Reunion: In November of 2005 Phil Collins came to Glasgow on  his First Final Farewell tour. Backstage he met up with his former bandmates  Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford to discuss a  reunion tour. The plan was to perform their 1975 rock opera The Lamb Lies  Down On Broadway straight through. Gabriel only wanted to do a tiny number  of dates, and when he felt pressure to commit to a longer tour he bowed out of  the whole thing. With him out of the picture, the 1980s line-up of Collins,  Banks and Rutherford decided to tour instead. In 2007 they did 47 dates across  Europe and North America.

Duration: Four months. The tour ended at the Hollywood Bowl  in October of 2007. On the tour Collins dislocated some vertebrae  in his  neck. It caused nerve damage in his hands, making it nearly impossible for him  to play drums. Collins is now completely retired from music, and any sort of  Genesis reunion seems incredibly unlikely.

Yes, Jimmy Page Can Play the Guitar. The Question is, Can He Stop?

The following is a provocative post reprinted from NME:

Sacred Cows – Help, I Don’t Get Led Zep

Sacred Cows is an occasional series in which NME writers question the consensus around revered albums and artists

By Mark Beaumont

When I go for an expensive meal, I don’t want more side order vegetables than steak. At the cinema, I don’t want more credits than film. So as the NME office quakes to the sound of ‘Celebration Day’, the live album from Led Zeppelin’s O2 reunion show in 2007, I’m left increasingly baffled as to how this tiresome band’s plodding, self-indulgent arse gravy has managed to creep into the realms of respected classic rock.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like a good solo. Joey Santiago is clearly a supernatural hyper-wizard from a far wonkier dimension than our own. Matt Bellamy’s fingers must’ve been beamed down from Planet Acewiddle. But alongside virtuosity and melodic panache, a great solo displays restraint, doesn’t outstay its welcome. Except in Led Zeppelin’s world. Here’s a live album that’s approximately 80 per cent solo, 18 per cent aimless jam and two per cent actual song. Yes, Jimmy Page can play the guitar. The question is, can he stop?

The live album merely serves to reinforce my feelings about Led Zeppelin – that they’re the worst excess of over-rated prog blues wank in rock history. They’re credited with inventing heavy metal (although ‘Helter Skelter’ arguably pipped them to that) but the shroud of black magic and mysticism that surrounded the band in the 70s was a smokescreen to disguise the fact that they were merely pomped-up, cock-fixated blues hacks recycling stolen riffs and hooks and plagiarizing willy-nilly from old blues, rock’n’roll and folk records like copyright laws were beneath them – “you only get caught when you’re successful, that’s the game,” said Plant after being caught with his hand in Willie Dixon’s lyric jar.

Yes they came up with some ass-annihilating riffs in their time, but – especially live – they’d often swamp their finest licks in extended trad jams, nails-down-blackboard whining and proggy pastoral wafts, dragging the burgeoning 70s hard rock explosion back into the hackneyed improvisational habits of ancient jazz and blues. The noxious ‘art’ of padding out arena gigs with tedious extended plank-spanking sections sprang from this period, and Zeppelin were at the forefront of making this mass wastage of precious audience lifespan acceptable. Their albums were tighter but, to these ears, no less dreary: walloping wads of muddy blues/folk rock that stared ever backwards at a time when so much more intriguing music was looking towards a glistening pop/punk/disco future.

Heavy rock crunch? The Who and Black Sabbath did it better. Glam-era glamour? Give me Bowie or Bolan any day. To this day, it’s only the rock’n’roll mythology of Led Zeppelin – the red snappers, in-room motorbikes and occult rituals – that keep their memory in any way interesting or edgy, and even these were ripped off the likes of Keith Moon, Robert Johnson and The Rolling Stones. Strip the myths away and you find that everything saggy, overblown and boring in rock music is Led Zeppelin’s fault – hardly a cause for celebration.

Page and Plant Reunite in Exotic Marrakesh, 1994

(Reprinted from Open Culture)

In 1994 Jimmy Page and Robert Plant collaborated on a new musical project for the first time since the death 14 years earlier of Led Zeppelin’s drummer, John Bonham. The reunion resulted from an invitation to appear on MTV’s hit series Unplugged. But Page and Plant wanted to steer clear of nostalgia, so they excluded former Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones from the project and named it Unledded.

The resulting album and DVD feature an assortment of Zeppelin songs that were reinterpreted with the help of an Egyptian ensemble, an Indian vocalist and the London Metropolitan Orchestra, but perhaps the most interesting part of the project was a trio of new songs recorded with local musicians in Marrakesh, Morocco. Those performances, one of which is shown here, were the result of a collaboration with traditional musicians of the Gnawa minority, whose sub-Saharan ancestors were brought to Morocco many centuries ago as slaves.

“We’d never met the Gnawa when we went there,” said Plant in a 1994 interview, “but they were very patient, and smiling is a great currency.” Gnawa music is traditionally performed for prayer and healing, and differs from other North African music. “They play a kind of music which is much more akin to the music of the Mississippi Delta than it is to do with Arab music,” Plant said in another interview. “It’s haunting, seductive, and quite alluring.”


Oops! I Meant “They’re One of the Greatest Bands Ever”: Rolling Stone’s Original Review of Led Zep’s Debut

Led Zeppelin 1

You can find plenty to criticize about Rolling Stone magazine these days. What was once perhaps the foremost periodical devoted to Rock and Roll music and culture now regularly follows the careers of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift as if they were Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

And the seemingly bi-weekly special issues built around the Top 100 this or the Top 500 that are kind of played out, no?

But hypocrisy is funny too. And it’s interesting to note that Swift not only merits a RS cover story but she also gets better reviews than Led Zeppelin once did. The magazine heaped flattery on her Speak Now album (see full review here: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/speak-now-20101026 )

…And for contrast I’ve reproduced John Mendelsohn’s review of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut. I consider it one of the bigger whiffs in the history of rock criticism (although I do give the magazine props for reproducing it in a 2011 issue). It’s not so much that I disagree with everything Mendelsohn said, it’s just amusing to note how quickly after this scud review the magazine set about elevating the band to status of rock immortals. Despite the cred Jimmy Page had earned as a member of the Jeff Beck Group, Mendelsohn makes them sound like mere mortals indeed, even hacks:

‘Led Zeppelin’: Blues Combo Dead on Arrival

Jimmy Page is, admittedly, an extraordinarily proficient blues guitarist and explorer of his instrument’s electronic capabilities. Unfortunately, he is also a very limited producer and a writer of weak, unimaginative songs. The most representative cut is “How Many More Times.” Here a jazzy introduction gives way to a driving guitar-dominated background for Robert Plant’s strained and unconvincing shouting. Zeppelin has produced an album sadly reminiscent of the Jeff Beck Group’s Truth. To fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find some material worthy of their collective attention.

I don’t know if Mendelsohn’s opinion of Plant changed once his “strained and unconvincing shouting” made him a rock god, or if  he still thought Page was a “writer of weak, unimaginative songs” post- “Stairway to Heaven”…but I think I know the official RS editorial position on the matter.

Led Zeppelin: Men Of Steal

When people mention Led Zeppelin poaching other people’s music, is this the kind of thing they’re talking about?


(from 1966, credited to Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott)

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