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Led Zeppelin bigger in America than UK?

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Britain gave you Cliff Richard and the Spice Girls - that's as much as I'm owning up to. ;)

How could you leave out Shakin Stevens? ;)

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How could you leave out Shakin Stevens? ;)

You're only saying that cos you're a Taffy as well. :) Edited by johnthomasmoby

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You're only saying that cos you're a Taffy as well. :)

Ha ha actually I've heard the man is quality live but having never seen him live I can't confirm if this is true or not.

I don't think he ever broke the states in the same way Zeppelin did though ;)

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This thread has long been dormant, but I've decided to post here nevertheless. I don't think there is any doubt that Zep was bigger in America, on a per-capita basis, than in Britain. The band clearly appealed to and "clicked" with Americans in a unique and powerful way. I can't offer any definitive explanations for why this occurred -- any number of complex social and psychological factors may have been involved -- but I suspect that Zep's U.S. popularity had a lot to do with America's less hierarchal and rigid class system, and its frontier mentality and ethos.

Edited by Pagefan55

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True. Zep obviously toured a lot more in the States than they did in Britain, and the U.S. undoubtedly had a proportionately larger and more prosperous record buying public, but I still suspect there was more to it.

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As John Bonham put it in an interview : "Look, we've just toured the States and done as well as, if not better than the Stones, but there was hardly anything about it in the British press. All we read was, the Stones this, the Stones that, and it pissed us off."

"It made us feel, what the hell, here we are flogging our guts out, and for all the notice that's been given to us, we might as well be playing in bloody Ceylon, because the kids in England didn't even know we were touring the states. It comes across as though we're neglecting the kids when we're not."

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I am old enough to remember the critics disdain for the group in the U.K.

and the fact that they were a cult band until at least P.G. Amongst

friends mention of liking their music was cause for much eye rolling!

As a fan they were very much bracketed with Sabbath and Budgie

as proto metal rather than the Beatles Stones and Floyd which is the level

they should have been at.I find the level of respect and coolness they now enjoy in the U.K.

hilarious frankly!Talk about late adopters.

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My friends didn't bracket them with sabbath or budgie....Led Zeppelin were excellent, they wouldn't mention the other two in the same breath, I think you are a bit out when you say that they were a cult band up until Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin II put them on the world radar.

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This thread has long been dormant, but I've decided to post here nevertheless. I don't think there is any doubt that Zep was bigger in America, on a per-capita basis, than in Britain. The band clearly appealed to and "clicked" with Americans in a unique and powerful way. I can't offer any definitive explanations for why this occurred -- any number of complex social and psychological factors may have been involved -- but I suspect that Zep's U.S. popularity had a lot to do with America's less hierarchal and rigid class system, and its frontier mentality and ethos.

Sorry can't agree with that. Whilst I don't disagree that they were bigger in the US than Britain, as a Brit who has spent a considerable amount of time in the US over the last 30 years I have to say America's class system is just as prevalent if not more so than in Britain.

Also don't forget there were parts of the US where the band received threats just because they had long hair. (Probably the same parts where a few years earlier they burnt Beatles records just because of a comment by John Lennon.) That wouldn't have happened in Britain.

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My friends didn't bracket them with sabbath or budgie....Led Zeppelin were excellent, they wouldn't mention the other two in the same breath, I think you are a bit out when you say that they were a cult band up until Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin II put them on the world radar.

I simply meant they weren't considered rock royalty like the Beatles or Stones

Whole lotta love had them typecast for years.

P.G. and the Earls Court concerts sent them overground in 1975

They were an acquired taste prior to that

We are discussing whether they were bigger in the U.S.or U.K.

For all the reasons listed i would say U.S.

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I am old enough to remember the critics disdain for the group in the U.K.

and the fact that they were a cult band until at least P.G. Amongst

friends mention of liking their music was cause for much eye rolling!

As a fan they were very much bracketed with Sabbath and Budgie

as proto metal rather than the Beatles Stones and Floyd which is the level

they should have been at.I find the level of respect and coolness they now enjoy in the U.K.

hilarious frankly!Talk about late adopters.

It's a bit of a stretch to call a band with numerous million selling chart topping albums a cult band. That, like it or not is closer to mainstream in my book.

Edited by JTM

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Sorry can't agree with that. Whilst I don't disagree that they were bigger in the US than Britain, as a Brit who has spent a considerable amount of time in the US over the last 30 years I have to say America's class system is just as prevalent if not more so than in Britain.

Also don't forget there were parts of the US where the band received threats just because they had long hair. (Probably the same parts where a few years earlier they burnt Beatles records just because of a comment by John Lennon.) That wouldn't have happened in Britain.

Thanks for replying, Cofa. I have spent some time in the U.K.; a fair amount of time in London and traveling around England, Scotland and Wales. My perception (rightly or wrongly) was that the class system in the U.K. is more...what's the word...entrenched? That people are more aware of it's existence? That perhaps there is less upward social mobility in the U.K.? Your absolutely correct, though, America does have a prevalent and entrenched class system, although many Americans either don't acknowledge it or pretend not to be aware of it's existence. (or believe social class is solely based on money, etc.)

What I wonder is this: Did Zep's massive popularity in the U.S. have something to do with the fact that America had a large upwardly mobile middle class, fewer (or fewer perceived) social/class divides, no monarchy or official aristocracy, and an adventurous "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" frontier mentality? I'm not sure it did, but I wonder.

Allow me to share an anecdote to illustrate just how big Zep were in the U.S. at their peak. A relative of mine was a suburban high school student at an American high school in the late 70's. He has told me that some of his friends would occasionally make the joking (half joking?) remark that something (whatever subject they happened to be discussing) was as great or as big as "Mom, Apple Pie, and Led Zeppelin." For me, the fact that American students of that era were making such remarks -- as a joke or not -- speaks volumes.

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It's all subjective at the end of the day, but Led Zeppelin did do an awful lot more touring in America which would explain why they are 'bigger' across there.

A new generation of people in Britain who have grown up without having to read horrible press about the band see them with untainted eyes, most of the people I associate with musically (I was born in '79) love Led Zeppelin.

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Sorry can't agree with that. Whilst I don't disagree that they were bigger in the US than Britain, as a Brit who has spent a considerable amount of time in the US over the last 30 years I have to say America's class system is just as prevalent if not more so than in Britain.

Also don't forget there were parts of the US where the band received threats just because they had long hair. (Probably the same parts where a few years earlier they burnt Beatles records just because of a comment by John Lennon.) That wouldn't have happened in Britain.

Thanks for replying, Cofa. I have spent some time in the U.K.; a fair amount of time in London and traveling around England, Scotland and Wales. My perception (rightly or wrongly) was that the class system in the U.K. is more...what's the word...entrenched? That people are more aware of it's existence? That perhaps there is less upward social mobility in the U.K.? Your absolutely correct, though, America does have a prevalent and entrenched class system, although many Americans either don't acknowledge it or pretend not to be aware of it's existence. (or believe social class is solely based on money, etc.)

What I wonder is this: Did Zep's massive popularity in the U.S. have something to do with the fact that America had a large upwardly mobile middle class, fewer (or fewer perceived) social/class divides, no monarchy or official aristocracy, and an adventurous "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" frontier mentality? I'm not sure it did, but I wonder.

Allow me to share an anecdote to illustrate just how big Zep were in the U.S. at their peak. A relative of mine was a suburban high school student at an American high school in the late 70's. He has told me that some of his friends would occasionally make the joking (half joking?) remark that something (whatever subject they happened to be discussing) was as great or as big as "Mom, Apple Pie, and Led Zeppelin." For me, the fact that American students of that era were making such remarks -- as a joke or not -- speaks volumes.

I feel it wasn't so much the rigidity of the class system in the UK, but the rigidity and hierarchy of the UK radio and television industry that played a part in Led Zeppelin not having the sustained presence in England's pop culture as they did in the U.S.

In the U.S., pop and rock radio was broadcast constantly, 24/7. Besides the Top 40 AM pop stations, you had the burgeoning underground FM radio scene, where dj's could play the longer (5 minutes and more) songs that were becoming the norm in acid/heavy/progressive rock circles. When I was growing up, I could hear rock and roll at any time of the day and any day of the week. I had plenty of stations to choose from on both the AM and FM dial.

That wasn't possible in the UK and probably most of Europe, where you only had a few stations and you were lucky if they devoted an hour or two to rock and roll. It seemed that when the UK stations did play rock and roll, it was mostly geared to the Top of the Pops crowd. Since Led Zeppelin wasn't a "singles act", with the exception of the odd "Whole Lotta Love" breakout hit or Top Gear appearance, it was easy for Led Zeppelin to get lost in the shuffle while the UK media focused on whatever was the latest teeny-bopper craze, whether it was the Glam Rock hype of T Rex, Bowie, and Gary Glitter or the Bay City Rollers or the Punks.

Since Queen and the Stones and the Who all catered more to radio by releasing singles and being willing to appear on TV pops programs lip-synching their latest hit, these bands were able to keep a higher profile in the UK than Led Zeppelin. Even though Led Zeppelin might have been selling more albums and more concert tickets, their refusal to kowtow to the "star-maker machinery" made it easy for the UK media to overlook, nay, ignore Led Zeppelin. And since the UK youth seemed more dependent than their American counterparts on the pop-culture media to tell them what group was worth listening to, apart from the Led Zeppelin II/Whole Lotta Love hysteria and the Earls Court concerts in 1975 and Knebworth in 1979, Led Zeppelin seemed to fly under the radar in their homeland.

While in America, Led Zeppelin was a constant presence on rock radio no matter what the year or whether they had a hit album or single or not. Glam, disco or punk...it didn't matter what craze the teeny-boppers were into, Led Zeppelin still would form a sizable chunk of any FM rock radio's playlist. So, while the UK kids were getting only what was on Top of the Pops, American kids grew up hearing Led Zeppelin on a daily basis. Creem, Circus, Rock Scene, Hit Parader, even Rolling Stone...they all covered the band and their tours, for better for for worse. It didn't matter whether the coverage was positive or negative, as the saying goes: "any publicity is good publicity". So, Led Zeppelin was never far from your mind when you were growing up in America in the '70s...conjecture about their next album, the next tour, was always prevelant.

That is a major reason why Led Zeppelin was bigger in the US than the UK: The kids in America were simply given more Led Zeppelin in their daily diet than the kids in the UK, due to US radio being more free-wheeling and less beholden to Pop Top 40 strictures. How is a kid in the UK supposed to like Led Zeppelin if he/she never gets an opportunity to hear them?

It's a bit of a stretch to call a band with numerous million selling chart topping albums a cult band. That, like it or not is closer to mainstream in my book.

Actually, you can call a band with million-selling chart-topping albums a 'cult band'...and when I have more time, I will explain why.

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Thanks for replying, Cofa. I have spent some time in the U.K.; a fair amount of time in London and traveling around England, Scotland and Wales. My perception (rightly or wrongly) was that the class system in the U.K. is more...what's the word...entrenched? That people are more aware of it's existence? That perhaps there is less upward social mobility in the U.K.? Your absolutely correct, though, America does have a prevalent and entrenched class system, although many Americans either don't acknowledge it or pretend not to be aware of it's existence. (or believe social class is solely based on money, etc.)

What I wonder is this: Did Zep's massive popularity in the U.S. have something to do with the fact that America had a large upwardly mobile middle class, fewer (or fewer perceived) social/class divides, no monarchy or official aristocracy, and an adventurous "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" frontier mentality? I'm not sure it did, but I wonder.

Allow me to share an anecdote to illustrate just how big Zep were in the U.S. at their peak. A relative of mine was a suburban high school student at an American high school in the late 70's. He has told me that some of his friends would occasionally make the joking (half joking?) remark that something (whatever subject they happened to be discussing) was as great or as big as "Mom, Apple Pie, and Led Zeppelin." For me, the fact that American students of that era were making such remarks -- as a joke or not -- speaks volumes.

I concur completely with your observations on the differences between the perception of class in the US and UK. For sure I think there are many reasons why Zeppelin's popularity flourished in the US. Strider makes some excellent points above.

One thing is for sure. For all of us who have lived with this band's music for the majority of our lives no matter what side of the Atlantic we come from they were and always will be the biggest and best band ever !

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I feel it wasn't so much the rigidity of the class system in the UK, but the rigidity and hierarchy of the UK radio and television industry that played a part in Led Zeppelin not having the sustained presence in England's pop culture as they did in the U.S.

In the U.S., pop and rock radio was broadcast constantly, 24/7. Besides the Top 40 AM pop stations, you had the burgeoning underground FM radio scene, where dj's could play the longer (5 minutes and more) songs that were becoming the norm in acid/heavy/progressive rock circles. When I was growing up, I could hear rock and roll at any time of the day and any day of the week. I had plenty of stations to choose from on both the AM and FM dial.

That wasn't possible in the UK and probably most of Europe, where you only had a few stations and you were lucky if they devoted an hour or two to rock and roll. It seemed that when the UK stations did play rock and roll, it was mostly geared to the Top of the Pops crowd. Since Led Zeppelin wasn't a "singles act", with the exception of the odd "Whole Lotta Love" breakout hit or Top Gear appearance, it was easy for Led Zeppelin to get lost in the shuffle while the UK media focused on whatever was the latest teeny-bopper craze, whether it was the Glam Rock hype of T Rex, Bowie, and Gary Glitter or the Bay City Rollers or the Punks.

Since Queen and the Stones and the Who all catered more to radio by releasing singles and being willing to appear on TV pops programs lip-synching their latest hit, these bands were able to keep a higher profile in the UK than Led Zeppelin. Even though Led Zeppelin might have been selling more albums and more concert tickets, their refusal to kowtow to the "star-maker machinery" made it easy for the UK media to overlook, nay, ignore Led Zeppelin. And since the UK youth seemed more dependent than their American counterparts on the pop-culture media to tell them what group was worth listening to, apart from the Led Zeppelin II/Whole Lotta Love hysteria and the Earls Court concerts in 1975 and Knebworth in 1979, Led Zeppelin seemed to fly under the radar in their homeland.

While in America, Led Zeppelin was a constant presence on rock radio no matter what the year or whether they had a hit album or single or not. Glam, disco or punk...it didn't matter what craze the teeny-boppers were into, Led Zeppelin still would form a sizable chunk of any FM rock radio's playlist. So, while the UK kids were getting only what was on Top of the Pops, American kids grew up hearing Led Zeppelin on a daily basis. Creem, Circus, Rock Scene, Hit Parader, even Rolling Stone...they all covered the band and their tours, for better for for worse. It didn't matter whether the coverage was positive or negative, as the saying goes: "any publicity is good publicity". So, Led Zeppelin was never far from your mind when you were growing up in America in the '70s...conjecture about their next album, the next tour, was always prevelant.

That is a major reason why Led Zeppelin was bigger in the US than the UK: The kids in America were simply given more Led Zeppelin in their daily diet than the kids in the UK, due to US radio being more free-wheeling and less beholden to Pop Top 40 strictures. How is a kid in the UK supposed to like Led Zeppelin if he/she never gets an opportunity to hear them?

Actually, you can call a band with million-selling chart-topping albums a 'cult band'...and when I have more time, I will explain why.

Excellent post

(quote name="Cofa" post="762593" timestamp="1402696445"]

I concur completely with your observations on the differences between the perception of class in the US and UK. For sure I think there are many reasons why Zeppelin's popularity flourished in the US. Strider makes some excellent points above.

One thing is for sure. For all of us who have lived with this band's music for the majority of our lives no matter what side of the Atlantic we come from they were and always will be the biggest and best band ever !

Edited by Pagefan55

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It's all subjective at the end of the day, but Led Zeppelin did do an awful lot more touring in America which would explain why they are 'bigger' across there.

Or is it the other way around, did they end up touring the US more because they were more popular there?

As someone said upthread, I think there's a lot of complex sociological and psychological factors that come into play here. I'm absolutely fascinated by it, personally. This topic has been interesting reading.

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Hi jimjam,

It's an interesting topic. Zep was an almost immediate hit in the U.S., and started becoming huge here almost as soon as they began touring. One writer said something along the lines of "Zep took to America like Islam in the desert." Or, perhaps, as a few of my relative's old high school buddies used to joke, it was really more about, "Mom, Apple Pie, and Led Zeppelin."

Edited by Pagefan55

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Funny really this topic. I put it down to the management of the band who could see the enormous amount of $ to be made stateside. I made a point before the amount of huge stadia that you have in the US compared to the UK. For example: 1970. Madison Square Garden/La Forum in the US - Attendance 15 - 20,000 ?? I guess. 1971 Manchester Free Trade Hall 2500. It took the band 4 more years to play a venue ( Earls Court) that held 15,000 people in England.

Also the premier "pop" weekly show "Top Of The Pops's" in the UK had Whole Lotta Love (albeit a big sounding instrumental version) as the theme tune.

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Pagefan, yeah I know, but I wonder how things would be different if they hadn't gone down quite so well quite so quickly.

I dunno, I'm just playing around with different ways to look at it.

Chillumpuffer, this had crossed my mind before reading your opinion on it. I suppose a large part of it does come down to money.

I'm not quite sure what the point is you're making with TOTP? It was the only Zep song my mom knew growing up because of this :)

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But it did go down "quite so well quite so quickly," in America -- for whatever reason.

Edited by Pagefan55

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The version of Whole Lotta Love they used for TOTP was by C.C.S. I hated it, it was only in later years that the BBC used the Zep version......That's if my memory is correct (and I can't be arsed going on web sites to check it out)

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Pagefan, yeah I know, but I wonder how things would be different if they hadn't gone down quite so well quite so quickly.

I dunno, I'm just playing around with different ways to look at it.

Chillumpuffer, this had crossed my mind before reading your opinion on it. I suppose a large part of it does come down to money.

I'm not quite sure what the point is you're making with TOTP? It was the only Zep song my mom knew growing up because of this :)

The (ironic) point being that the band never released singles.Therefore the band never got air time on the radio so was not available to the ears of most record buying public. Unlike the US as has been noted before in this thread

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My perception here in the colony is that some significant parts of the English media have big problems when a home grown band starts to break out of England and no longer need the English press to make or break them. I recall in the case of Oasis just as they were getting ready to play the big arenas, stadiums, and outdoor festivals in North America as What’s The Story Morning Glory began to break that the English media turned on Oasis, and when the tour was cancelled because of hardcore infighting the band returned to England. They missed their North American opportunity and focused on England alone and suddenly they were treated like kings by the English press. The same thing happened to Def Leppard when High n Dry started to chart in North America and it looked like they were going to break out of the pubs and small theaters of England and the press turned their back on the band and viewed them as English sellouts. I asked Dad the other day, and he told me the exact same thing happened to the Beatles, but that when the Beatles cancelled touring, and became an English studio band suddenly all was good again, and Led Zeppelin was treated like shite as well. He told me when a band goes global and leaves England for other parts of the world the English press never forgive the band for some odd reason. In North America we had at one time hundreds of independent FM and AM radio stations all over the continent where they would play song requests from their own listeners all day which was different from the structured models of the English BBC who seemed to view the listener as unworthy because he/she wanted to listen to Zeppelin or Doctors of Madness or Leppard or whoever at all hours of the day. Plus in later years North America developed really really good 24 hour 365 day a week music television stations. So I can understand why Zeppelin were bigger or more respected in North America over England. The English press have a bug up their ass for some reason.

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