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Barney Hoskyns book

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I found the book to be the best I've ever read about the band and that's after having read all of them (with Peter Grant's being the best before this one). The interviews are telling and it reinforces whatever mojo they certainly had together was stripped from them in August 1975 and from there onwards, they were never quite the same group (for various reasons). It's an incredible polaroid of the times they lived in: incredible fame, incredible excess and an incredible legacy that was forged at the ultimate price.

I'd say the "mojo" was "stripped from them" in July of 1977 - that was what set them really apart.

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I agree with Melcore. Just because you're having boat-loads of personal problems, that doesn't mean you've lost your mojo. When it comes to Led Zeppelin, I think writers lean on the "rise and fall" narrative a little too heavily. That's not to say that things weren't going wrong in the later era - really wrong, in some respects - but these writers go overboard and act like everything after August 75 has to get swept into the "fall" category, because they're not flexible enough to go outside a really worn out boilerplate narrative. It bothers me because there were a lot of epic, magic nights in 77, when the band was on fire and the audience was totally transported...but it usually doesn't suit the writers' agenda to give these nights much attention, because that doesn't fit the "doom and gloom" vibe needed for the "fall" section of these books.

And even stripped of the old mojo, the band was good enough to put on killer shows - even without the special magic they had before, they were still REALLY good.

Edited by mielazul

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I'd say the "mojo" was "stripped from them" in July of 1977 - that was what set them really apart.

No one is denying that but I'm not one to look at the 1977 tour through a rose colored lens either. There were some great shows when the band were firing on all cylinders for the entire show but that didn't happen as frequently by that point in their career as it had just a few years earlier.

I agree with Melcore. Just because you're having boat-loads of personal problems, that doesn't mean you've lost your mojo. When it comes to Led Zeppelin, I think writers lean on the "rise and fall" narrative a little to heavily. That's not to say that things weren't going wrong in the later era - really wrong, in some respects - but these writers go overboard and act like everything after August 75 has to get swept into the "fall" category, because they're not flexible enough to go outside a really worn out boilerplate narrative. It bothers me because there were a lot of epic, magic nights in 77, when the band was on fire and the audience was totally transported...but it usually doesn't suit the writers' agenda to give these nights much attention, because that doesn't fit the "doom and gloom" vibe needed for the "fall" section of these books.

And even stripped of the old mojo, the band was good enough to put on killer shows - even without the special magic they had before, they were still REALLY good.

Of course they were really good, they were incredible musicians. But even great talents falter when substance abuse strangles every aspect of the whole thing. It took a near death experience for Robert to first shake him of his "invicibility" people feel with youth. One can assume it shook the whole band of that feeling. I mean, Jones wanted to walk away two years earlier and it took both Grant and Page by complete shock. Who would walk away from the biggest musical group in the world? My point is, while the music is everything, there are other elements to everything. After Plant's car accident in 1975, the mood within the band changed. There was a vulnerability added to them that had never been there before because they were indeed vulnerable. Presence is a musical statement to that feeling. And with that feeling, substance abuse escalated around the entire operation. And not just with management. You had Bonham's drinking getting worse than before and worst of all, you had the band's architect, Jimmy Page, falling victim to heroin and alcoholism and the band suffered because of it.

It's easy to pile on now looking back, from a writer's stand point or a fans but that doesn't mean what is being said about them isn't warrentless. And I'm not trashing any of them because their music has meant the world to me. But I also see the human side of things. Hoskyn's book provided that human element better than anything I've read about them. Forget the mudsharks, this was about how the insulated world they created turned some of them into overly paranoid drug addicts and tragically, people had to die before it shook them out of their addictions.

But we still have the music, which will live on forever.

Edited by bigstickbonzo

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^^^ I hear ya, BSB. This thread has been pretty contentious at times, but you present your points in a very cool way. All the best.

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I gotta agree with Melcore and mielazul. To me , the apex was 1977. The music, the fame, the infamy, how higher could the Zeppelin rise in altitude?

I consider myself lucky to have seen the band on this tour, and I would not trade it for any other date of any given year.

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I gotta agree with Melcore and mielazul. To me , the apex was 1977. The music, the fame, the infamy, how higher could the Zeppelin rise in altitude?

I consider myself lucky to have seen the band on this tour, and I would not trade it for any other date of any given year.

Well, let's put it this way - through most of Led Zeppelin's awesome live career, you can still hear shows where the audience is kind of flat. They're rare, and they're usually not the band's fault, either (Dallas '75, Mobile '73...I'm talking about good shows where the audience is just lame). But in '77, the audiences at every show were out of their minds...totally insane...and the vibe was just on another level. The band was so HUGE at that point, and not in the vapid celebrity sense - they really were like gods to their followers, and the shows were these gigantic rituals of religious ecstasy. That's not to say that things weren't getting dark in the organization, and it's not to argue with people who prefer the playing from other eras. All I'm saying is that the '77 tour was really something special - not just from the standpoint of a Led Zep fan, but from anyone who might be interested in unique religious phenomena - and it often gets swept into this rote "doom and gloom" set of chapters by these writers. It really minimizes the amazing things that happened in those "Houses of the Holy."

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It's incredibly easy to judge these shows forty years on, too - most contemporary reviews (and memories) of the fans are stellar. It was the overall experience...but I'd still argue that Karac's death is what signalled the beginning of the end, more so than Plant's car accident.

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It's incredibly easy to judge these shows forty years on, too - most contemporary reviews (and memories) of the fans are stellar. It was the overall experience...but I'd still argue that Karac's death is what signalled the beginning of the end, more so than Plant's car accident.

Agreed.

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I'd still argue that Karac's death is what signalled the beginning of the end, more so than Plant's car accident.

I don't think there's any doubt about that at all...quite frankly I think Page and Peter Grant really showed their true colours by skipping Karac's funeral. It was pretty obvious where their allegiances lie during that period- they picked drugs over giving moral support, and it's pretty hard to condone that kind of behaviour. For Robert Plant that was a helluva harsh way to find out who his real friends were (echoes of the "Got friends who will give me fuck all" line from "Hots On For Nowhere"; I'm pretty sure I can guess who Plant was referring to in those lyrics). I think John Paul Jones gets more of a free pass on that score because he always tended to distance himself from the 'drama' that surrounded the band, with good reason, I'd say. And I reckon Jonesy hit the nail on the head when the group reconvened in '78 at Clearwater Castle and he asked straight off, "Why are we doing this?"; I think JPJ saw the writing on the wall better than anyone and knew the band's days were numbered. IMO the Knebworth shows would have been a fine farewell, akin to The Beatles more or less setting their personal differences aside to record Abbey Road.

Funny how the two biggest bands of all time -Led Zeppelin and The Beatles- more or less went out with a whimper instead of a more fitting bang. If communication had been better in either case, who knows what might have happened?

Edited by Nutrocker

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I just finished the book and i actually anjoyed the layout of it. sad to read about Bonham doing H and C though. I never heard that before and always thought it was just alcohol for him. never realised how factured they were as a group before either.

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As far as the bang and whimper stuff goes, it seems to me that these things have to end one way or another, and nobody's ever very happy about it. I'm trying to think of bands that stepped out with a bang...there's The Police, who ended with the huge Synchronicity tour, on top of their game...but their fans were like, "You're stopping NOW?" and I don't think Stewart Copeland or Andy Summers were very happy about it, either. I think of The Band, who had this incredible journey from a young bar band to this epic last concert with an incredible guest list, all filmed beautifully by Martin Scorcese...and most of them were all miserable, too. I can think of moments in sports, where this or that legend ended it with a bang and the overwhelming feeling was "yeah, that's the PERFECT ending." But it's never a happy thing when the music stops, and it usually stops for a sad reason. I really wish things didn't end the way they did with Zeppelin, but I can't imagine those guys ever shaking hands happily after some epic American tour and saying, "That was great, guys, let's end it there." Jimmy in particular was in it to the death of somebody...and most people thought it would be him.

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I don't think there's any doubt about that at all...quite frankly I think Page and Peter Grant really showed their true colours by skipping Karac's funeral. It was pretty obvious where their allegiances lie during that period- they picked drugs over giving moral support, and it's pretty hard to condone that kind of behaviour.

In Jimmy's case (at least) I'd say the book portrays him as having been on a bender - and completely unaware of Karac's death as a result.

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^^^ Yeah, when you're that deep into addiction, you're not "picking" drugs anymore...you're just being swept along. For some reason, missing funerals has been a part of many addiction stories I've read (including "Scar Tissue," which I just finished). It's not hard to understand - very stressful, emotional situation...the addict getting even more out of it than usual as a result...then thinking "I can't show up like this"...or just not thinking at all anymore.

I understand Robert being upset and let down...but I don't think what happened makes Jimmy some uncaring monster. He was a heroin addict for god's sake...I've never seen him look so bad in pictures til I saw the photos on this forum from when he was selling that big tapestry, around 1981. I wouldn't blame THAT guy for not wanting to appear at anything.

Edited by mielazul

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sad to read about Bonham doing H and C though. I never heard that before and always thought it was just alcohol for him.

^^^ Yeah, when you're that deep into addiction, you're not "picking" drugs anymore...you're just being swept along. ...but I don't think what happened makes Jimmy some uncaring monster. He was a heroin addict for god's sake...I've never seen him look so bad in pictures til I saw the photos on this forum from when he was selling that big tapestry, around 1981. I wouldn't blame THAT guy for not wanting to appear at anything.

It's too bad interventions weren't really in vogue back in the seventies...Jimmy and Bonzo would have been prime candidates methinks.

"Ya gotta understand, we didn't have rehab back in the seventies...back in the seventies rehab meant you stopped doing coke but kept drinking and smoking pot for a couple more weeks...'Gimme a case of Budweiser and an ounce, I gotta slow down!'" - Denis Leary :lol:

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Not trying to totally excuse Jimmy, btw...just trying to get a better handle on the situation. I can't even imagine such a horrible state of affairs, thankfully...

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It's too bad interventions weren't really in vogue back in the seventies...Jimmy and Bonzo would have been prime candidates methinks.

"Ya gotta understand, we didn't have rehab back in the seventies...back in the seventies rehab meant you stopped doing coke but kept drinking and smoking pot for a couple more weeks...'Gimme a case of Budweiser and an ounce, I gotta slow down!'" - Denis Leary :lol:

Even now, it's questionable whether it will "take," but you're right, at least people try to help these days. God, it would be fucked up to have to do an intervention on Peter Grant though, wouldn't it?

This makes me think of the intervention scene in The Sopranos. It's really funny, and you can probably just search Sopranos and Intervention on youtube to pull it up. I don't think you even have to be familiar with the show to get some laughs out of it.

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In Jimmy's case (at least) I'd say the book portrays him as having been on a bender - and completely unaware of Karac's death as a result.

Did Hoskyn's book explain why John Paul Jones didn't attend the funeral? I've read elsewhere that he and his family went camping during that tour break so it's possible Zep's management couldn't reach him. This was before cell phones.

To my mind, what really stands out is that despite his problems with alcohol and drugs, John Bonham managed to pull himself together long enough to accompany Plant back home and attend the funeral.

Edited by Disco Duck

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Did Hoskyn's book explain why John Paul Jones didn't attend the funeral? I've read elsewhere that he and his family went camping during that tour break so it's possible Zep's management couldn't reach him. This was before cell phones.

That appears to be what happened:

From Hoskyns, pg 376:

Richard Cole: "John Paul was out of contact; he only knew to be back in New Orleans for the show at the Superdome."

JPJ himself said he and the missus and the kids had rented a Winnebago and drove out of Seattle after the second Oakland gig, so they were indeed on the road, he also said something like, "When I found out what happened to Karac I stayed away as there was nothing I could do about it..."

Edited by Nutrocker

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That appears to be what happened:

From Hoskyns, pg 376:

Richard Cole: "John Paul was out of contact; he only knew to be back in New Orleans for the show at the Superdome."

JPJ himself said he and the missus and the kids had rented a Winnebago and drove out of Seattle after the second Oakland gig, so they were indeed on the road, he also said something like, "When I found out what happened to Karac I stayed away as there was nothing I could do about it..."

Had no clue JPJ wasn't there! That little tidbit slipped right under my nose...somehow.

Edited by Melcórë

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I've always wondered why Plant did'nt put his foot down and demand Page and Bonham clean up their acts before he re-joined the band in May 78? I mean he was in a position of great power and held all the aces, he literally had nothing to lose and nothing to prove anymore!

I think the band should have called it a day then instead of limping on for another couple of years tarnishing the legend with a substandard album and a final tour met with general indifference. A sad end to the greatest band ever!

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I've always wondered why Plant did'nt put his foot down and demand Page and Bonham clean up their acts before he re-joined the band in May 78?

[...]

I think the band should have called it a day then instead of limping on for another couple of years tarnishing the legend with a substandard album and a final tour met with general indifference. A sad end to the greatest band ever!

I think you've hit it on the head there - he would have had to say something to Bonzo as well as Pagey. For whatever reason, no one seems able or willing to have done so.

Your second statement, however, is something I cannot agree with: In Through the Out Door is not "a substandard album" - your inability to evaluate the album properly, well, that's on you. As for the "final tour"...the Tour Over Europe was not intended to be the final tour - spirits seem to have been raised considerably with the prospect of the forthcoming (shorter) North American tour.

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I think you've hit it on the head there - he would have had to say something to Bonzo as well as Pagey. For whatever reason, no one seems able or willing to have done so.

Your second statement, however, is something I cannot agree with: In Through the Out Door is not "a substandard album" - your inability to evaluate the album properly, well, that's on you. As for the "final tour"...the Tour Over Europe was not intended to be the final tour - spirits seem to have been raised considerably with the prospect of the forthcoming (shorter) North American tour.

Yes he could have given them an ultimatum otherwise he would quit the band!

ITTOD will always be substandard by previous zep standards in my eyes. How can it be anything else when Page and Bonham were living on planet smack and booze? If you rate it then that is your perrogative but where was the innovation and pushing of musical boundaries Zep were notable for? Hot Dog? I'm Gonna Crawl? C'mon!

Of course the '80 tour wasn't supposed to be the last but don't tell me the playing was great! Page was a car crash - just look at the pics of him on that tour. Do you think a US tour with all the temptations would have been better? Don't think so! Sadly I don't think this story was ever gonna have a happy ending!

Edited by LedZebedee

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I've always wondered why Plant did'nt put his foot down and demand Page and Bonham clean up their acts before he re-joined the band in May 78? I mean he was in a position of great power and held all the aces, he literally had nothing to lose and nothing to prove anymore!

Even better -and possibly even more effective- would have been if Plant and Jones both ganged up on Page and Bonham and demanded that they sober up. Although, as the Hoskyns book indicates, the addictions plaguing the group and their management were only part of the problem; by that point in their career the 'Zeppelin Machine' (Swan Song Records, etc) had gotten so unwieldy that a massive overhaul of the 'machine' would have been required. Yes, Page and Bonzo had their problems, but Peter Grant wasn't in much better shape at that point, and that was just as damaging to the group and its whole enterprise IMO. Bottom line, things needed to change, big time, and deep down, I think they knew it, but were loathe to actually take any sort of action to sort things out. I'm sure had Bonham not died, and the overall situation still didn't improve it would have been inevitable that either Robert Plant or John Paul Jones -or both- would have said fuck it and quit.

Of course the '80 tour wasn't supposed to be the last but don't tell me the playing was great! Page was a car crash - just look at the pics of him on that tour. Do you think a US tour with all the temptations would have been better? Don't think so! Sadly I don't think this story was ever gonna have a happy ending!

I've said before that had John Bonham lived and the American tour had gone ahead, one way or another, it would have been Led Zeppelin's last stand. If Jimmy Page didn't fatally OD somewhere out on the road in America in 1980, the actual performances on the tour would have been just as erratic as they were in Europe, and it probably would have done serious damage not only to the band's reputation as live performers but to their collective pride as well. If enough of the shows were bad enough, that alone probably would have been the catalyst for Robert Plant to say the hell with it and get back on a plane to Maureen and the kids. And JPJ probably would have been right behind him. No matter what, something needed to happen to shake the whole goddamn thing up for Led Zeppelin, it just happened to end up being Bonham's bad decision to knock off fourty shots of vodka in a twelve hour period. Oops. As bad as that was, it could have been worse...no, it wasn't a happy ending by any stretch of the imagination, but at least the band was able to go out with their dignity intact, and a bit of class. Potentially breaking up in a shitload of rancour and resentment whilst out on the road would have been an embarrassing blot on their image, but that was probably the way it would have ended if Bonham had lived...

Edited by Nutrocker

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Just read an excerpt from Hoskyn's book that was available on the Internet. According to Janine Safer and Unity MacLean, Jimmy Page had a problem with food; he didn't like to eat it. Several times he became so underweight, he got sent to rehab to fatten him up (MacLean's choice of words, not mine). Add chronic malnutrition to his other problems in 1980 and his chances of completing an American tour didn't look good.

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