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FL6

Jimmy's dominance in the band.

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Just reading Susan Fast's House of the Holy, she mentioned Jimmy being the alpha male in the group, I think the context was the role of the guitar or "guitarist" int their music. It just got me thinking if anything was said or established that Jimmy's in charge of nearly everything. I think I read once that Jimmy had Grant talk to Bonzo to have him tone down a bit in the early days.

Obviously Jimmy started the band and had all the credentials going in but sometimes these things have to be spelled out so there's no misunderstanding. I supposed it would've been done at some meeting most likely through Grant.

Anyways, just curious if there's anything more to the subject or opinions on the matter. Inner workings of bands are interesting along with how bands decide who gets paid for what.

Edited by FL6

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The fact Jimmy Page was the producer signifies he held the "primary leadership role" within the group. 

"..the alpha male in the group". Good grief. I'm reminded how hokey much of that book is.

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It could well have been "Jimmy and the Zeppelins" - it was his band, his idea, and his direction. Not to belittle the others in any way. Zep would not have been the monster it was and is without those 3 legends. Each of the 4 contributed so much it would not be anything like Zep had any of them been absent. But it was all Jimmy in terms of "leader".

I imagine near the end, Robert may have put the breaks on and had a larger say with things given the circumstances.

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On 11/22/2016 at 8:55 PM, SteveAJones said:

I'm reminded that Bonham and Plant were initially on salary.

I'm curious, does that mean JPJ was initially more of an equal partner than RP and JB? I'm pretty sure I remember reading that Jones said he also put up some money towards  the 1st album's studio time.. Robert and JB were pretty much broke.. John Paul was rolling in the dough with all of his session work. I take it Jones was in for a percentage and not ever on a salary...? 

Edited by the chase

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The power dynamic in the band shape-shifted over the years.  It was always Jimmy's band, being that he had the reputation, the studio skills, and the all-important Producer credit.  I do tend to think that the Producer credit was also a way to ensure that he got a little more money.  It's clear to see that his power slowly waned over the years as the others, particularly Plant, closed the gap.  I think JPJ, not being the confrontational type, gained extra power in a very subtle way through his musicianship and arranging.  Bonham seemed content to be who he was, but gained power nevertheless through his growing fame and reputation.  Plant was the main power interloper, especially once he established himself as the primary lyricist and co-creator of most of the songs with Page.  I have little doubt that it was this Page-Plant power struggle and difference of artistic direction that led I'm certain to what would have been the band's break-up had Bonham not died, and to their love-hate relationship to this day.   

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Yeah, that's pretty accurate about the power shape-shifting over the years. However this thing with Jimmy being the

end all producer, well Eddie Kramer, Glyn Johns, others had a big effect on the studio end product, even with Jimmy

having ultimate say. Also Jimmy was the "leader", but past the first album I find it hard to believe that the rest of Zep

were "Yes Men". Steve A. would know best, but why are their almost no stories whatsoever about Page arguing about

certain  parts going in his direction, or Page EVER acting  like a dictator ?? I really think Page fell very luckily into a

musical  situation where only at times did he have to bother much with anybody playing parts very contrary to his

vision.. This attitude was fine for Zep, but look at Jimmy's solo career, again no trace of Page being a dictator, but

look  at the results. In the first Firm album Paul Rodgers actually plays some rather generic rhythm guitar parts, a

"Leader" player like Jimmy would never go for that. Plant was certainly becoming more assertive but a sizable portion

of  this was the whole drugs/alcohol situation particularly with Page, others too, and the gangster element in Zep

which Plant wanted no part of. Jimmy, "Leader", at the beginning, sure, otherwise more of an overseer than a real boss.

Look at how many songs/riffs are now known not to have come initially from Jimmy.

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6 hours ago, the chase said:

I'm curious, does that mean JPJ was initially more of an equal partner than RP and JB? I'm pretty sure I remember reading that Jones said he also put up some money towards  the 1st album's studio time.. Robert and JB were pretty much broke.. John Paul was rolling in the dough with all of his session work. I take it Jones was in for a percentage and not ever on a salary...? 

Essentially, yes. JPJ was never on salary, but Plant and Bonham were (initially).

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47 minutes ago, Mithril46 said:

However this thing with Jimmy being the end all producer, well Eddie Kramer, Glyn Johns, others had a big effect on the studio end product, even with Jimmy having ultimate say.

Each did but for that reason Page diversified the producers he worked with, so no one could claim too much responsibility for their sound, if not their success.

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Jimmy Page had said that he lived every moment of the albums, the others had not. Still the case to this day.. so like mithril said "overseer" is a very good description of his role as Producer, leader.

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I like to think the guys were all  'somewhat' equal forces - at least that's how the band
members themselves I think would have explained it,     but those that worked closest with
them will / would likely say otherwise.  In Richard Cole's book he has his own personal
description of each band member,   and as much as he painted Jimmy as an aloof weirdo with
a heroin addict who had "fun times" with teenage girls,   he also  described him as the one
who held the keys to the kingdom.  In other words Zeppelin was his brain child and for the
majority of the time he was the driver.  

I do agree though that in later years it was obvious Plant's level of power shifted upwards.  
Look at the album  In Through The Out Door  and Jimmy's role on that.    Sadly though much of
the power shift was because he had become undone with his addiction to smack

Fast forward 36 years later.   Jimmy is  keeping the legacy of Zeppelin intact,  but Robert did show
how vital he was when the band failed to get off the ground after the O2 show

I honestly can say,  I would have gotten on board with Jimmy,   Jones,  Jason  and a fill in singer,
more than I could get on board with Jones,  Jason,  Plant and a fill in guitarist.   Shit who am I
kidding... if Led Zeppelin tried to make a go without Jimmy I would HATE that.  :mad:.   There is
something very synonymous with Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin.   A blessing and curse isn't it.

 

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There's rumours of an early incident where Jimmy told Bonzo he'd have to play more simply, but Bonzo ignored him - whereupon Peter Grant supposedly stopped the rehearsal and said 'Oi, Bonham, do as this man says or fuck off!'
Then there's the incident in the mid-70s where Grant supposedly told Robert to 'Remember who's fucking band it is - and it's not yours!' 
If either of those rumours are even half true, it's pretty clear that it was Jimmy's band and Grant wasn't going to let anyone forget it.   

 

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16 hours ago, SteveAJones said:

Each did but for that reason Page diversified the producers he worked with, so no one could claim too much responsibility for their sound, if not their success.

Actually, Page diversified the recording engineer's he worked with, not producers. And if anyone has any questions about Page's role in the band, I suggest checking out the clip below starting at 4:20

 

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I fully agree with that last post, although as seen Jimmy seemed far more of a "I'm boss here" as far as being very 

meticulous with the studio end, dealing with the engineers, mixers, etc. Despite the few examples of being forceful

with the band itself, there really isn't much evidence of Jimmy riding other member's backs. I have a tape where Jimmy

is trying to inform Bonzo how to play some of the odd timing stuff in the fanfare in STH before the solo. Jimmy is very

patient  and just seems like one musician explaining to another how to count a part. At this point Jimmy clearly

knew  that the others in the band were his equals and it would likely be very counterproductive to assume a diva pose.

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I think Zeppelin came about as close as a band can get to a democracy with a lot of mutual respect.  I'm struggling to think of any major band that had a full-on democracy.  There was always one and sometimes two members that had the upper hand.  Page also had a tendency to stay in the studio with an engineer long after the others left.  This is where he would get busy with his guitar, putting down all those layers.

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8 hours ago, blindwillie127 said:

Actually, Page diversified the recording engineer's he worked with, not producers.

Each of the recording engineers who worked with is also a producer.  

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15 minutes ago, NealR2000 said:

I think Zeppelin came about as close as a band can get to a democracy with a lot of mutual respect.  I'm struggling to think of any major band that had a full-on democracy.  

The Doors come immediately to mind. I'm sure there are many others.

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46 minutes ago, SteveAJones said:

The Doors come immediately to mind. I'm sure there are many others.

Even though Jim Morrison gets the lions share of attention, that makes sense to me. 

Rush came to my mind first. 

I would think ZZ Top and U2 as well. 

Edited by the chase

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Yeah, that's all valid and quite nteresting. You tend to find in these democratic bands , in the studio at least, a

willingness to let members shine as brightly as possible, without some member feeling outdone. However I

do remember Circus magazine putting out a Robert Plant book, and Jimmy almost right away asked Circus why

he  wasn't given a book. Then pretty sure Jimmy also instructed some of the lighting people on tour to put

more lighting on him than Plant. But he certainly live gave the others a wide leeway playing wise. I would be 

very surprised if beyond the first album at rehearsals for a tour Jimmy would  be constantly interrupting any of

the  members much about their parts. That is testament to how great the band was. Jimmy may have occasionally

thought,  well what about this, but too much messing with world grade musicians may cause stiffness in live playing,

so just let the master musicians rip. I'm speculating a bit, but Jimmy hit the lottery with the rest of the band.

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On ‎23‎/‎11‎/‎2016 at 1:55 AM, SteveAJones said:

I'm reminded that Bonham and Plant were initially on salary.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is because the actual earnings of the band were quite limited early on and Plant and Bonham needed the money where as Page and Jones could afford to wait until things took off after a few months.

18 hours ago, Mithril46 said:

Yeah, that's all valid and quite nteresting. You tend to find in these democratic bands , in the studio at least, a

willingness to let members shine as brightly as possible, without some member feeling outdone. However I

do remember Circus magazine putting out a Robert Plant book, and Jimmy almost right away asked Circus why

he  wasn't given a book. Then pretty sure Jimmy also instructed some of the lighting people on tour to put

more lighting on him than Plant. But he certainly live gave the others a wide leeway playing wise. I would be 

very surprised if beyond the first album at rehearsals for a tour Jimmy would  be constantly interrupting any of

the  members much about their parts. That is testament to how great the band was. Jimmy may have occasionally

thought,  well what about this, but too much messing with world grade musicians may cause stiffness in live playing,

so just let the master musicians rip. I'm speculating a bit, but Jimmy hit the lottery with the rest of the band.

Really the impression I get is more a "leader" than someone who was out for total control, he seemed to decide on the general direction of the band and handled production but he obviously did look for significant input from everyone else.

For all the talk o "led wallet" and "stealing songs" what really stands out I think is just how much credit the rest of the band did get song writing wise, you compare that to say Roger Waters during Floyds latter years where he would lay claim to tracks he'd created a basic idea for even if the rest of the band had massively expanded them(Animals most obviously).

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what really stands out I think is just how much credit the rest of the band did get song writing wise, you compare that to say Roger Waters during Floyds latter years where he would lay claim to tracks he'd created a basic idea for even if the rest of the band had massively expanded them

 

I think that comparison comes down to the musical (and I presume personal) respect between the individuals. I admit my view is coloured as I can't stand the bloke, or Pink Floyd's music in general, but Waters has always come across as an arrogant character. By contrast, although I get the impression the individual members of Zeppelin can take or leave each other's company nowadays, there was / is real respect there for each others' musical abilities.

 

Contrast that to say, Noel Gallagher who I recall once said "I can't see how a bassline or drum pattern has improved any Oasis song".

Edited by 76229

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On 23/11/2016 at 11:55 AM, SteveAJones said:

I'm reminded that Bonham and Plant were initially on salary.

wow, that is interesting. Jonesey was an instant lock.

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11 hours ago, 76229 said:

what really stands out I think is just how much credit the rest of the band did get song writing wise, you compare that to say Roger Waters during Floyds latter years where he would lay claim to tracks he'd created a basic idea for even if the rest of the band had massively expanded them

 

I think that comparison comes down to the musical (and I presume personal) respect between the individuals. I admit my view is coloured as I can't stand the bloke, or Pink Floyd's music in general, but Waters has always come across as an arrogant character. By contrast, although I get the impression the individual members of Zeppelin can take or leave each other's company nowadays, there was / is real respect there for each others' musical abilities.

 

Contrast that to say, Noel Gallagher who I recall once said "I can't see how a bassline or drum pattern has improved any Oasis song".

One of the reasons Zep didn't keep going after Bonham died is that essentially it was a performance band and each musician brought his own unique talent to the table.

Floyd could keep going as a live entity after Waters left, because essentially Waters was predominantly a songwriter and his playing was technically limited. Although he did have a distinctive bass style. But songwriting-wise they were pretty average post-The Wall.

 

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