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osoz

Did Led Zeppelin make the right decision to break up?

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osoz   

Hi to all, been really enjoying reading a lot of the threads here and seeing the knowledge of forum members on the band.

I've always wondered what fans thought about the decision by the band to break up after John Bonham's death. As I understand it, it was partly out of respect for John's family and partly that the live sets had evolved to such an extent it was felt it would be impossible to replace John with another drummer.

I get the impression too that perhaps other band members were shocked into reality by the event, that the excesses of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle would catch them up too if they went on.

Would love to hear opinions or suggestions of what they could have done to continue or reasons why it was the right time to quit.

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woz70   

They absolutely made the right decision.
Personally, I think the decision to continue after the events of '77 was a bit iffy - at least without Jimmy and Bonzo facing and resolving their, er.. 'personal difficulties' first.

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mckjuana   

After the tragic death of John Bonham, I feel Zeppelin's life force was pretty much spent. Musically they were sinking below the bar they set, raised and then raised some more right up till late 1975, both in musicianship and creativity.

So, yes, after the most unfortunate of events in sept 25th 1980 they were right to put Zeppelin to rest.

After a few disastrous reunion efforts the stars aligned for one splendid farewell in 2007, but now it's done.

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At the time it was the right move for that moment. But they really should have gotten back at in 88 after the Atlantic Records 40th gig in my view. Fuck, I wish they would do it now, but it won't happen.

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I don't know anyone - ANYONE! - who thinks LZ made a mistake in not carrying on after Bonzo's death, for any number reasons;

1) Aside from the fact they were all understandably distraught at the loss of their friend and colleague, with the very thought of replacing him simply unthinkable, who could possibly have replaced Bonzo, and why would they even want to?

2) Creatively, the band had peaked with Physical Graffiti and I think they knew it, why continue further on a downward trajectory and ruin all the good work they had already done?

3) Considering the personal circumstances at the time prior to September 25th, 1980 - Robert Plant's tragedies, Jimmy Page and Peter Grant's spiralling heroin addictions, Bonzo's rampant alcoholism - it was utterly inevitable that someone was going to die in the immediate short-term (and end the band by consequence), Jimmy Page's fragile and genuinely precarious health in 1980 made him a prime candidate for that fate, I really believe that Bonzo dying saved Jimmy's life, it's very possible Mr Page would not have survived to make a ninth studio album... either way, the band's days were numbered, too much damage had been done to keep it going much longer, Bonzo's demise just forced the inevitable sooner than expected.

4) Robert Plant's position and future in the band was already on somewhat shaky ground as it stood, he was but one further bad experience away from quitting altogether (I believe), and Bonzo's death was that experience, it was the final knockout blow for Plant and Zeppelin, this last and most devastating gut-punch of all was one they wouldn't be able to recover from... even if Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones had wanted to continue, Plant most certainly would NOT have, it was over for him in more ways than one, it's little wonder he worked so hard to put so much distance between himself and his Zeppelin days, the memories of that 12-year period have some very painful moments Plant had no desire to remind himself of any longer.

The best move the surviving band members did was call it a day after Bonzo's demise, but what else could they have done...?

Edited by The Old Hermit

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poortom   

Yeah well said, I certainly think Robert was finished after Bonzos death, I think that after the reported non appearance of Jimmy and John Paul Jones at Roberts sons funeral Robert just didn't want to do it anymore and questioned the brotherhood of the band, he even applied to be a teacher and would have walked away from the music business altogether.

I feel great pride in how they finished, and reading the statement out in that December of 1980 think they did make the correct decision.

Other bands have replaced band members and carried on, good luck to them, but I'm afraid there is and never was any replacing Bonzo, although being at the O2 on that fantastic night in 2007, Jason did a mighty big job and did his dad proud.

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Of course they would have had to take a break after Bonham's death. It was unexpected and his role was essential to their live shows. They were facing other issues including Page's drug use and Plant's declining vocal abilities. But the O2 show demonstrates that it didn't have to be over in 1980. I know Page has said they couldn't possibly have replaced Bonham because it would have been impossible to perform their old hits live with a different drummer. He was thinking in the short term. Over time, as Jason's performance demonstrated, of course someone could have learned the old songs. It would have been different, but does that mean it wouldn't have been any good? I have wondered if they also had doubts about the direction that rock music in general was going at that time. I know I did. I thought rock music, or hard rock/blues rock music anyway, was finished in 1981...it seemed to be being replaced by punk and pop rock. Van Halen was the only decent new hard rock band that had come on the scene after 1977. Maybe they were wondering if there was any future in rock music and if it was worth their time to write new tunes and to try to find a new drummer who could fit with the band plus learn the old tunes. I have also wondered at the role PTSD might have played. One of the common reactions is to avoid anything that is associated in any way with the traumatic event. Bonham's death was a trauma; it happened right in front of them. On top of Robert's son's death. Their reactions and decision to break up is totally understandable, but was it the best idea? I think they could have pulled it together and put out another album. It would have been a better album than 90 percent of the new music on the airwaves in 1981-1987. Their solos careers didn't compare and in my opinion after Van Halen (whose output imo declined in quality after their first couple of albums) the next decent hard rock band was Guns and Roses in 1987.

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Mook   

I think the decision is the second best decision in the history of rock music behind Jimmy Page's decision to form the band.

Allegedly.

Edited by Mook

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NYR   

It was the right decision hands down! I think after Robert's son died part of Zeppelin also died. Jimmy health was declining and the ITTOD sessions were a very dark period for Zeppelin. Robert & Jonesy were the only ones who would show up at rehearsals and began writing with each other. Jimmy was a mess. Peter Grant was also declining as a manager. He never should have let things get so out of control. The group wasn't as hungry as they were a few years prior.

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Yes, of course it was the right decision. Bonham wasn't just a drummer, he was THE drummer.

However, I disagree with the general sentiment in this thread that things were so bleak for the band in 1980. I think their peak was either Physical Graffiti or Earls Court, with their low point being the first leg of the 1977 tour. As they neared the end of that tour, I think they were feeling good and getting ready to record again, only to have tragedy strike. In Through the Out Door was mostly John Paul Jones "powering through" in an effort to wake everyone up, but it didn't work. Then Knebworth made them feel like relics.

It took the Tour Over Europe 1980 to regain the momentum that had been lost for them as a band. The planned US fall tour was called The 1980s - Part One for a reason. They were more feeling more ambitious then than they had been since 1975.

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raytuned   

yes that was mistake #1 ...here's #2 forgetting Jonesy on the unledded tours, #3 why not let Jason do it # 4 or another drummer . many were willing back in the day Powell,Collins ,Jason carmine appice,Michael Lee too! I blame Paget for the whole mess he was anal about many things by character not just zep.. There are a hell of a lot more mistakes but then I could start another forum .as a long very long zep fan (53yrs old me am) I understand Plant now.and why. He feels the way he does. Ask yourself this " How much shit can you eat??

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None of the three remaining members has said much beyond their own re-telling of the official band statement. They've gone a little into the bit about how they gave some consideration to bringing in another well-known drummer, but decided against it. I think the situation then was really no different from the same situation today. Jimmy wanted to press on and probably was the one suggesting the replacement drummer. Jonesy was indifferent and would have gone along with whatever everyone else wanted. Robert wanted out. I think his heart wasn't in it since he lost his son in 1977 and had to be coaxed for those final 3 years. The death of Bonzo was his absolute decision-maker. Without Plant, the band's future was unsustainable and the statement was made. Jimmy likely had little fight in him and likely slunk off into the arms of morpheus. Peter Grant was also in no condition to circle the wagons.

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It took the Tour Over Europe 1980 to regain the momentum that had been lost for them as a band. The planned US fall tour was called The 1980s - Part One for a reason. They were more feeling more ambitious then than they had been since 1975.

Ambitious or not, the physical state of two of the band members leads any objective person to surmise that had the Oct-Nov 1980 tour went ahead, at least one of them wouldn't have returned home alive... granted, it's pure conjecture, but would YOU have bet on either Jimmy or Bonzo lasting much longer given their health at that time?

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IMHO, the decision to call it quits was the best decision the surviving members could make at that time. Other posters have listed the many reasons why it was the right decision. However, I would have been okay with a resurrected Led Zeppelin anytime after Page's Outrider album. I don't think a resurrected Led Zeppelin would have lasted more than a few years but they would have new recorded music that was quite different from the Page/Plant projects.

Edited by Disco Duck

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"It would have been silly to even think about continuing Zeppelin. It would have been a total insult to John. I couldn't have looked around and seen someone else on the drums. It wouldn't have been an honest thing to do". Jimmy Page quote from the early 80s... From memory. No way were Page and Jones pushing for a new drummer. I think Live Aid might have sparked them to reconsider and once Jason became a viable option that was correct, good and ethical did Page want to go on with it. Probably the same for John Paul. I think they both feel John would approve if not insist Jason be the choice.

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Walter   

:yesnod:

The 02 show was a nice way to pay homage to Ahmet and Bonzo, with Jason on drums, then close the book - forever.

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I have always felt it odd for bands to carry on after loosing key members. Are The Who and the Rolling Stones the same bands anymore. Wasn't Plant on the bill when Entwhistle died or have I miss remembered that.

Knowing what they know now would the three reunion shows still have happened.

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I remember picking up Rolling Stone back then and reading their statement. Within a year or two of this, AC/DC had lost Bon Scott and decided to carry on. The Who lost Moon and carried on. There was much speculation that Zep might try and go forward.

In the end, I think it was Plant that really held the veto card. His voice was just way too integral a part of the Zep sound, and without him, there would be no Zep. Him walking away killed it, something I disagreed with at the time. Hell, I had just discovered Zep, and now they're ending? No fair!

To this day I think reforming Zep in any manner TODAY would be a colossal mistake, but reforming in 1980 could definitely have worked. There were lots of talented drummers who could have stepped in. It would have been different, but Zep was know for being different. Not sure how it would have went with Page's problems...

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Yes, it was the right choice. In the long run, it was the ONLY choice. You had Page addicted to heroin, having limited creativity and involvement, Bonham was having a serious drinking problem and hated touring, and then Plant's voice was getting worse, and he was getting sick of singing the same Zeppelin songs over and over again.

Anyone who thinks that Zeppelin would have 'Ruled the 80s' didn't know what was going on from 1977-1980.

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Ambitious or not, the physical state of two of the band members leads any objective person to surmise that had the Oct-Nov 1980 tour went ahead, at least one of them wouldn't have returned home alive... granted, it's pure conjecture, but would YOU have bet on either Jimmy or Bonzo lasting much longer given their health at that time?

Yes, it was the right choice. In the long run, it was the ONLY choice. You had Page addicted to heroin, having limited creativity and involvement, Bonham was having a serious drinking problem and hated touring, and then Plant's voice was getting worse, and he was getting sick of singing the same Zeppelin songs over and over again.

Anyone who thinks that Zeppelin would have 'Ruled the 80s' didn't know what was going on from 1977-1980.

I'm not sure it would have been wise, but considering Bonham's death was an unfortunate accident (the man apparently partied like that all the time) I think they all at least would have survived another American tour. Whether they found a way to clean up or not, I think they had at least one more "Houses of the Holy" in them, maybe better. I mean, there's plenty of strong stuff on ITTOD, and that was with low input from Jimmy, who had been the engine of their creativity up to that point.

I do doubt that they would ever again be as popular as when Stairway to Heaven blew up, but I could see them having a lot of success in the 1980s.

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