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lalunexviii

What are some of the best unofficial Led Zeppelin Biographies?

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Just getting deeper into my love for the band and am an avid reader. I'm curious to see what y'all think are some of the best books/biographies about Led Zeppelin and/or its members. 

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The most commonly read biographies are "Hammer Of The Gods" by Stephen Davis (this has just been updated a couple of weeks ago) and "Stairway To Heaven" by Richard Cole.

Now, how "good" they are is a matter of opinion - and I'm sure people here won't be shy about telling you what they think of them. Richard Cole, the band's long-time tour manager, wrote the second and was the major source for the first. They focus a lot (too much?) on the tabloidish side of their story. There are facts in them, but there is a lot about the activities of others around the band that the band themselves most probably wasn't even party to.

 

Other highly regarded bios:

Led Zeppelin: 1968-1980 - Keith Shadwick

Led Zeppelin: The Final Acclaim by Dave Lewis

"Led Zeppelin" by Ritchie Yorke

(I personally recommend the last one - the other two I haven't been able to lay hands on yet.)

 

I also really like:

"Led Zeppelin on Led Zeppelin" by Hank Bordowitz (this has a LOT of the original articles in full that Davis used to write "Hammer Of The Gods")

"Led Zeppelin - Day by Day" by Marc Roberty (very informative compilation about LZ's activities...well...day by day, just like the title says)

 

I'm sure others will suggest different ones. Happy reading!

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10 minutes ago, ForEvermore said:

The most commonly read biographies are "Hammer Of The Gods" by Stephen Davis (this has just been updated a couple of weeks ago) and "Stairway To Heaven" by Richard Cole.

Now, how "good" they are is a matter of opinion - and I'm sure people here won't be shy about telling you what they think of them. Richard Cole, the band's long-time tour manager, wrote the second and was the major source for the first. They focus a lot (too much?) on the tabloidish side of their story. There are facts in them, but there is a lot about the activities of others around the band that the band themselves most probably wasn't even party to.

 

Other highly regarded bios:

Led Zeppelin: 1968-1980 - Keith Shadwick

Led Zeppelin: The Final Acclaim by Dave Lewis

"Led Zeppelin" by Ritchie Yorke

(I personally recommend the last one - the other two I haven't been able to lay hands on yet.)

 

I also really like:

"Led Zeppelin on Led Zeppelin" by Hank Bordowitz (this has a LOT of the original articles in full that Davis used to write "Hammer Of The Gods")

"Led Zeppelin - Day by Day" by Marc Roberty (very informative compilation about LZ's activities...well...day by day, just like the title says)

 

I'm sure others will suggest different ones. Happy reading!

I'm currently reading Hammer of the Gods and have to agree that Davis focuses too much on the tabloid side of things. I also am noticing the heavy influence of Cole on the work. Next on my reading list is When Giants Walked the Earth by Mick Wall. I know he is releasing an updated version for the 50th anniversary in October, but I want to give theoirignal a read through first. I will definitely give the Yorke piece a try. Thank you for your suggestions! Much appreciated! 

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11 minutes ago, lalunexviii said:

I'm currently reading Hammer of the Gods and have to agree that Davis focuses too much on the tabloid side of things. I also am noticing the heavy influence of Cole on the work. Next on my reading list is When Giants Walked the Earth by Mick Wall. I know he is releasing an updated version for the 50th anniversary in October, but I want to give the original a read through first. I will definitely give the Yorke piece a try. Thank you for your suggestions! Much appreciated! 

You're most welcome!

Ritchie Yorke was a friend of the band from the very early days - I think he just passed last year. It's a good book.

The Davis book does have its plusses - it does a decent job of tracing the trajectory of LZ from start to finish (i.e., including both pre-band and post-band). Not many bios do anything like that. Since virtually every LZ fan has read it, it's worth reading despite its flaws (if not only so that you will know what people are talking about when they criticize it).

I haven't read the Mick Wall book, but those who have seem to like it. The two titles I put at the end have been published more recently; therefore, I think people are less aware of them. They have both have lots of information I hadn't known before. For example, the "Day By Day" book has loads of details about the actual recording sessions - that by itself makes it distinctive.

Again, happy reading - there's plenty to be read! :D

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The Mick Wall book you're about to read was real enjoyable actually. I can't believe you took a philosophy of Led Zeppelin class haha. I would've liked to take that for a final elective my last semester.

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I've never heard of "day by day" actually, it sounds like one I'll have to check out.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, strombringer101 said:

Do not read When Giants Walked the Earth. 

It was a horrible account on Led Zeppelin. I tossed it in the trash. 

I can understand why some don't like it, especially the way certain parts were written. I didn't think it was bad though.

Edited by nemophilist

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I thought "When Giants Walked the Earth" was actually pretty good. 

Definitely want to check out the Day by Day as I am hugely interested in what the recording sessions were like to produce such masterful works of art!

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, lalunexviii said:

Very helpful. Thank you so much! I took a class on the Philosophy of Led Zeppelin and we used a lot of Dave Lewis's books. He is fantastic. Also, I'm happy to be here!! 

 

7 hours ago, nemophilist said:

The Mick Wall book you're about to read was real enjoyable actually. I can't believe you took a philosophy of Led Zeppelin class haha. I would've liked to take that for a final elective my last semester.

I have to admit that comment struck me as well! :lol: More schools should have such classes!

 

7 hours ago, nemophilist said:

I've never heard of "day by day" actually, it sounds like one I'll have to check out.

 

5 hours ago, EaglesOfOneNest said:

I thought "When Giants Walked the Earth" was actually pretty good. 

Definitely want to check out the Day by Day as I am hugely interested in what the recording sessions were like to produce such masterful works of art!

The "Day By Day" book I like very much. Mr. Roberty did a heck of a lot of research to compile all the details there.

 

Edited by ForEvermore

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, lalunexviii said:

Very helpful. Thank you so much! I took a class on the Philosophy of Led Zeppelin and we used a lot of Dave Lewis's books. He is fantastic. Also, I'm happy to be here!! 

You’re welcome 😊 

very cool 😎👍

Dave is a down to earth guy and very approachable. His “tight but loose “ monthly subscriptions are also highly recommended. 

Happy hunting and reading. This will be a banner year for all things Led Zeppelin (books, tapes, videos, CDs, etc (official and unofficial).

R😎🎸👍

Edited by reids

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I really enjoyed WGWTE as well. I didn’t agree with all of Mick Wall’s opinions ( and he is opinionated) but I found it an enjoyable read with a different take on the band and it’s accepted history than many of the other bios out there.

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Barney Hoskyn's The Oral History is a great read comprised of tons of interviews from dozens of people closest to the band. However beware, these people do not pull any punches especially where Bonham & Grant are concerned.

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18 hours ago, lalunexviii said:

I'm currently reading Hammer of the Gods and have to agree that Davis focuses too much on the tabloid side of things. I also am noticing the heavy influence of Cole on the work. Next on my reading list is When Giants Walked the Earth by Mick Wall. I know he is releasing an updated version for the 50th anniversary in October, but I want to give theoirignal a read through first. I will definitely give the Yorke piece a try. Thank you for your suggestions! Much appreciated! 

I'd give the Mick Wall a miss. Try Barney Hoskyns' "Trampled Underfoot" which is brilliant and interviews plenty of people around the band who've never spoken in other books. Staffers at Swan Song records, Peter Grant's wife Gloria, roadies like Henry Smith.

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Agreed. Hoskyns contains a lot of first-hand testimony and a lot of new or rarely heard perspectives, so it's valuable for that.
In contrast, Wall includes fiction where he attempts to put the reader in Jimmy's head, Robert's head, etc.
Wall's book is worth having, but I wouldn't go there first.
 

  

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Hi, I just read " Peter Grant, The Man Who Led Zeppelin " by Chris Welch 

I live in the same parish as Horselunges and Peters Grants white Range Rover with LZ1 was a common sight-

Good read- 

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On 6/12/2018 at 7:09 AM, 76229 said:

I'd give the Mick Wall a miss. Try Barney Hoskyns' "Trampled Underfoot" which is brilliant and interviews plenty of people around the band who've never spoken in other books. Staffers at Swan Song records, Peter Grant's wife Gloria, roadies like Henry Smith.

Just purchased. Can't wait to read.

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It all comes down to your personal preferences as to what particularly interests you with Led Zeppelin.  All of the books, and even the salacious Stairway to Heaven and Hammer of the Gods, are good.  However, if you want to focus on the ugly side of the band and the tales from the road, then those two aforementioned books are your best bet.  I don't think for one minute that they are dishonest.  Yes, there are some relatively minor inaccuracies, but they paint a fairly accurate picture of the Zeppelin on tour life that would have been Richard Cole's experience.  It's all hotel rooms and backstage.  Now if you want to get a different perspective, focusing a lot more on the music and creative process, then you are better off reading something like Dave Lewis' accounts.  

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What I would like to one day see is an official musical biography of the band with interviews of Page, Plant, Jones, and engineers such as John's and Kramer. Talking about the various albums, their favorite songs and what they mean to them; their favorite gigs and why, the most disappointing gigs, favorite places to play, favorite promoters and recording studios, etc. The real meat & potatoes musical stuff.

I don't give a wit about whatever sophomoric hijinx the band engaged in post-show because most bands, especially in that era, did the same and its just stupid and childish. I want to hear about the music. 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/11/2018 at 8:55 AM, lalunexviii said:

Just getting deeper into my love for the band and am an avid reader. I'm curious to see what y'all think are some of the best books/biographies about Led Zeppelin and/or its members. 

Barney Hoskyns "Trampled Under Foot" is very readable and is a good all-around book to have in your collection.

The Richard Cole and Stephen Davis bios are very salacious and poorly written...if you want groupie tales, you'll find them here. Although, "Hammer of the Gods", by nature being the very first Led Zeppelin biography written after the band's demise and the first taken seriously by the press and most widely read by fans, is recommended simply because it acts as a foundation, a starting point for all other Led Zeppelin books.

Stay away from Davis' "1975 Tour" book...utter tripe and useless.

Mick Wall's "When Giants Walked the Earth" is one I liked. But whether you like it will depend on how you feel about Mick assuming the "voice" of each member in certain parts.

Dave Lewis has his good books although he comes off a little too fan-boyish sometimes.

Still, the one Led Zeppelin book I find myself returning to again and again, and the one that still remains my favourite Led Zeppelin book overall is Charles R. Cross' "Led Zeppelin: Heaven and Hell". Great text. Great photos. It came out in the 1990s, so it's missing the O2 reunion and some of the recent bootleg discoveries. But for the meat-and-potatoes of the band during its 1968-80 lifetime, it's a must-have.

Edited by Strider

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On 6/12/2018 at 12:14 AM, IpMan said:

Barney Hoskyn's The Oral History is a great read comprised of tons of interviews from dozens of people closest to the band. However beware, these people do not pull any punches especially where Bonham & Grant are concerned.

This. My favorite!

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