Administrators sam_webmaster Posted September 16, 2015 Administrators Share Posted September 16, 2015 Ritchie Yorke's historic first book on Led Zeppelin, released in 1976, is now available in a 4th revised edition ebook. His work & friendship has been been a big influence on me and his authoritative, insider perspective was second to none. His updated website now contains some of his past articles on Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and others. To purchase the new eBook: http://ritchieyorke.com/product/led-zeppelin-led-to-gold/For now, the updated book will only be available as an ebook. (This is a limited 'Presentation Edition' shown in my above photo).-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Author Ritchie Yorke celebrated the release of the online ebook version of his Led Zeppelin biography by presenting a hard copy edition to singer Robert Plant in Toronto.photo: Led Zeppelin Webmaster Sam Rapallo, Robert Plant and author Ritchie Yorke)[Toronto - September 16, 2015] Plant was performing with his band the Sensational Shape Shifters at the Molson Amphitheatre on Tuesday Sept. 15, the same day as Yorke's ebook was launched through his website, ritchieyorke.com.It will also be available on other platforms in the near future.Yorke, who was in Toronto to oversee the launching of his new book on John and Yoko Lennon's War Is Over If You Want It peace campaign. ``CHRIST YOU KNOW IT AIN'T EASY : JOHN AND YOKO'S BATTLE FOR PEACE.'' The ebook will be published on October 9, which would have been John Lennon's 75th birthday.There has been four separate editions of Yorke's Led Zeppelin biography, and it has been published in several languages, including Japanese, German, English and Yiddish.It was first released in 1976. It had sold more than a quarter of a million copies internationally.Yorke produced his book with the assistance and co-operation of manager Peter Grant and members of Led Zeppelin. It was the first book about Led Zeppelin.Yorke is credited with having been the first media person to publicly forecast the massive North American success of Led Zeppelin. He had been sent an advance white-label copy of the band's first album by his friend and mentor, Jerry Wexler, executive vice president of Atlantic Records.He responded very positively to the band's first album and subsequently introduced each of Zeppelin's Toronto appearances (including the Rock Pile, O'Keefe Centre and Maple Leaf Gardens).Bass and keyboards player John Paul Jones recently described Yorke as Led Zeppelin's ``champion'' in its early days.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Book IntroductionThe first time I saw and heard Led Zeppelin, they were contained in a twelve inch package that turned up at my door in Toronto in late December 1968. The package had been sent to me by my dear friend and mentor, Jerry Wexler, the executive vice president of Atlantic Records.It was a white jacketed advance pressing, which listed the name Led Zeppelin and nine tracks on an Atlantic label sticker affixed to the centre of the disc. The Zeppelin name and most of the song titles were new to me.When I slipped the 12-incher onto the turntable, I had no idea what I would be listening to.But I would never forget it.The impact was instantaneous. It would literally change my life. As this album did for so many people.What astounded me in those early days, however, was the lack of initial critical support in North America for the Zep onslaught.At a time when far too many rock reviewers were failed musicians and assorted wannabees, appraisals of the first Zep album were jaundiced by biased outlooks, warped agendas and misguided thinking. Rolling Stone magazine (for which I had been Canadian editor for several issues) employed the same unsuccessful musician (John Mendelsohn of an undistinguished LA band called Christopher Milk) to review the first two Zeppelin albums.Guess what? He hated all of them. And pissed all over them in a pseudo-comical way that provided him with a critical reputation. It was disgusting stuff by any definition for a series hard rock devotee. Hardly something on which to build a critic’s career. I was more than satisfied to be at the other end of this ridiculous-to-sublime delineation.To me, Zeppelin’s strident and distinct grasp of the rock blues genre was something special to behold – a fitting fill-in of the vacuum created by the curdling of Cream and the abstract jazzy doodlings of the latter day Jimi Hendrix.Rock music was wide open for the underpinning of a hard rock powerhouse and Led Zeppelin arrived at precisely the right time.With timing being the crucial factor in any popular music aspiration, the entire equation was right on the button. And so it was no surprise – to me at least – that these four British virtuoso musicians and performers were able to broadcast their creative output to the world.The trail took them from the legendary blues crossroads of the deep South through the mountainous terrain of Kashmir, from the foggy history of the Gallows Pole through the stomp of Heartbreaker, from the echoes of the Rain Song to the bombast of Dazed and Confused.It would be a journey that would re-write the annals of rock history. All achieved without the usual trappings and wrapping of popular success – the hit singles, support videos and wholesale media access.Led Zeppelin climbed their stairway to heaven their own way without the artificial employment of marketing tricks.With this band, what you saw was what you got, and what you heard was pure and uncompromised hard rock.No wonder that this incredible quartet came to dominate the ‘70s like no other rock band.And that when their chain was broken with the death of drummer John Bonzo Bonham, the survivors chose the option of calling it a day rather than dredge up an alternative watered down version of themselves. It was black or white and there would be no grey.The band’s closing announcement said it all: “We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were” Led Zeppelin 4 December 1980.Sometimes it feels like it was only yesterday, the imprint remains so vividly electric to me. An absolutely unforgettable night in September 1971, the closest I ever came to experiencing what it must have been like to be an actual performing member of the live Led Zeppelin, to feel that supreme thrill of standing on stage in the face of the awesome molten energy of 18,000 ecstatically elevated souls.Over the years I had the substantial pleasure of standing out there and introducing all five Zeppelin concert performances in Toronto, but this particular gig was to be extraordinarily special.For Toronto audiences, it would be the performing zenith of the band’s live career; the fiercely contested itineraries of future tours would for no particular reason preclude Toronto, one of the earliest North American markets to take the band to heart early in 1969.Of course nobody was aware that night that this would be their final local appearance, but the capacity crowd did know they were soon to be on the receiving end of a very special event. Few, if any acts of the early 1970s delivered in concert the power or sparkle or potency – and resulting intense levels of audience enjoyment – that Led Zeppelin routinely mustered. Being the greatest live band in the world was their unwritten credo, and the punters revelled in an excess of expectations. They wouldn’t be disappointed.Backstage you could hear the muffled swarm of 18,000 excited voices, and you could feel the growing expression of that sea of expectation. When tour manager Richard Cole asked me – at the last possible moment with band members already gathered behind the backstage curtain – if I’d ‘do the honours, me old mate, and introduce the lads’, I was both thrilled and terrified all at once. But there’d be no time to ponder the deep and meaningless.The lights went down and there was a sudden hush. A hearty shove in the back from Richard Cole, the jerk of a jocular verbal insult from Bonzo Bonham, and I stumbled past the drum kit towards the front mike stand, illuminated by a pencil-thin white spotlight. Grasping the steel stand for reassurance, I gazed for an infinitely long second into the blackness of that ocean of anticipation. The surge of energy flowing from the audience towards the stage was mesmerising – words fail to capture the profound power of the force that confronted your reporter, as he groped for those magic statements that the mass of blackness wanted so desperately to hear.‘Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest rock and roll band in the world, LED ZEPPELIN,’ finally gushed out past the croaking frog in my parched throat. The immediate roar from the blackness almost bowled me over as I retreated through a grinning Jimmy, Robert and John Paul and another shouted insult from Bonzo, as he plonked his rear end on the drum stool. I was still stunned hours later from that first-hand, unadulterated exposure to the incredible intensity of Led Zeppelin’s association with their audience.Much has been churned out about how Led Zeppelin made the people feel, but not a lot has been written about how the people made the band members feel. I suspect I might have got a tiny taste of it that stunning evening in the venerable old hockey palace, the Toronto Gardens. It was eerily exhilarating, and not merely from an ego point of view; there was a unique awareness of something beyond the well-documented realms of rational reason, a connection perhaps with another level of consciousness.For the players, it obviously must have represented an awesome buzz, likely something a tad too sacred to talk about. It was just a feeling. But what a bountiful artistic reward – the culmination of a lifetime of dreams and aspirations. A supremely special exchange of emotion and admiration, and something that took Led Zeppelin far beyond the course of their contemporaries – a relationship that set them apart from other music makers.Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the visionary German aeronautical inventor, dreamed up the novel idea for the Zeppelin airship in 1874. It took a quarter of a century for his unusual concept to gain official support, and even then its purpose was grossly distorted.From all reports, the Count was a peaceful man who had nonaggressive intentions for his flying machine. Eventually he reluctantly watched his invention utilised as a weapon in World War I.After a subsequent disastrous commercial flight accident, the Zeppelin airship fell from favour and for another 25 years, it was nothing but the butt of a bad joke. Stating that a new idea or concept would go over like a lead Zeppelin meant that it was invariably bound to tumble down in flames.Only recently, with the intensifying of environmental awareness, have air traffic experts re-evaluated the Count’s proposals and begun to realise that his concept might be a far-from-laughable solution to one of mankind’s insidious pollution problems. Our skies,as yet, may be streaked by the cigar-like shapes of Zeppelin passenger aircraft.The comparison between the Count and the unique rock band which united to send its ferocious, blues-based music into the stratosphere under the Zeppelin name 94 years later is a trifle murky, but there are similarities.Formed in late 1968, Led Zeppelin’s historic battle for acceptance by the music establishment has been much shorter in duration, but it too has been overshadowed along the way by misunderstanding and misinterpretation.Even though Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and John Bonham originally banded together with undoubtedly sincere musical motives, the band was savaged all too frequently by uninformed observers, who accused them of manipulation of the music scene, of pandering to gross commerciality, of ripping off the masses – all allegations unworthy of comment.But this cacophony of resentment at Led Zeppelin’s pervasive popularity took its toll on the lives of band members, and at one point they withdrew completely from all music industry activities, other than recording and live performances.Near disasters at crammed concerts and anonymous threats of violence during later American tours more than once made them contemplate quitting altogether. But unlike many of their contemporaries, Led Zeppelin weren’t in the business merely to make money, and somehow they found the fortitude to withstand the often overpowering pressures of rock world domination for a dozen dynamic years, producing some of the finest, timeless moments that rock music can boast in its first four decades.From the outset in late 1968 Led Zeppelin was accorded incredible popular support from all quarters. From London to Tokyo, from Copenhagen to Los Angeles, from Istanbul to Melbourne, from Singapore to Sao Paulo, praise poured in. The band consistently baffled observers and detractors alike by constantly coming up with surprises on each album and in every tour. This key element of never-ending change, evolving out of the individual and unified talents of four remarkably skilled musicians always open to chance and circumstance, lies behind Zeppelin’s enormous and unprecedented success.Through the years, in between the unforgettable concert tours and albums and the inevitable swarm of rumours, Led Zeppelin has acquired an incredible mystique that was more intense than that of any other act in rock history, even including the Beatles, whose lives were daily grist for the tabloid mill. Led Zeppelin arose out of the late 1960s with all the raw potent power of the British blues boom, and they dominated the cutting edge of popular music through the 1970s and the early 1980s. For a dozen years, they were the frontrunners of the rock mainstream, constantly reinventing themselves and leading the field in a manner which was ultimately beyond imitation.Their influence has lingered through the present time in the musical aspirations of countless bands, good and bad, all profoundly moved by the Zeppelin legacy. That Led Zeppelin have been able to deliver such notable achievements from within a group policy and philosophy of minimum artistic compromise is a stunning feat.This was a band that steadfastly adhered to a policy of integrity. In the aftermath of the tragic accidental death of John Bonham in September 1980, the survivors’ decision to disband Led Zeppelin wouldn’t have come as any real surprise to the informed and compassionate enthusiast. John Bonham couldn’t have been replaced, as more so than any drummer of a typical group, his was the essential base on which each song’s structure was crafted. Whereas the almighty dollar would have dominated a decision to continue in most other camps, Led Zeppelin members wouldn’t entertain the possibility of seeking another drummer. The money didn’t matter – their integrity and their respect for what they had all created together were the deciding factors.The emergence in recent times of John Bonham’s son, Jason, as a powerful drummer in his own right (and his two appearances with Page, Plant and Jones at Led Zeppelin reunions in the late 1980s) has given rise to widely reported prospects of a full-scale reunion tour involving gigantic guarantees. While remaining doubtful that money will be the final arbiter in any decision to undertake a reunion tour, I believe the lure of proving sustained relevance in the music scene of the 1990s will – more likely sooner than later – see the lads hit the road one more time. Jason Bonham obviously can’t be John Bonham, but he’s as close as we’re ever going to get to the master himself.But, when push came to shove – or, as the odd cruel cynic inferred, profit outmuscled love – both John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham were passed over by Page and Plant for more contemporary company. Whether this rather astounding move was designed to deflect Zep cash-in reunion rumours or simply the fresh outlook of another day, there was some interesting irony to be found in the fact that, as the one member of Zeppelin who had consistently campaigned for the reasonable possibilities of a get-together, John Paul Jones was the only one left off the train when it finally shuddered forth from the previous 1980 terminus.Only time will tell about the wisdom of such a move. At risk, of course, is the survivors’ enduring legacy as the greatest rock band of all time – any false moves and that perception could be tarnished. To gain, in the basest sense, are more capital rewards. It’s a bit of an artistic toss-up.In the meantime, the Led Zeppelin musical legacy will live on, maturing and improving with each passing year, an outstanding testament to the brilliance of the four musicians who tore from their muse so many stirring anthems of the 1970s, such gems of style and often elegance, never lacking in soul and substance. The long-awaited 1990 release of the four-CD box set of quintessential Led Zeppelin, with its sharply focused clarity and the ingenuity of the new running order of familiar songs, underlines their artistic dominance of the hard rock genre, the unparalleled inventiveness and the inevitable risk-taking.The risks they took are ours to enjoy in appreciating their art. It appears certain that it will be a long, long time before any rock act constructs a song to dethrone Stairway to Heaven from its pre-eminent status as the world’s most popular rock song.The evolution of Led Zeppelin in itself is a classic story of the building of a stairway to nirvana heaven beyond the constraints of conventional rock music.It has been an honour and a privilege to have observed at first hand – and at times participated in – the exciting evolution of Led Zeppelin’s illustrious career. The band’s contribution to our lives has been profoundly enriching and enlightening. They truly were the greatest rock and roll band in the world. And probably still are.In closing, I can only hope that this book will be a door through which you will gain a keener and more acute perception of what this phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime union of superb musical personalities was all about.-Ritchie Yorke------------------------- Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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