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Manager of Led Zeppelin Play Rough


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Winnepeg Free Press 5-9-1977


The Los Angeles Times


Grant, the huge, Buddha-shaped

manager of Led Zeppelin, talks

about rock and roll as a jungle.

You've got to be tough, he says.

Like the time he poured a bucket

of water over a video machine

that was being used,to illegally

film a Zeppelin concert. Or when

he threw a TV news crew off the

Inglewood Forum stage. Literally.

But the classic Peter Grant

story, legend has it, occurred in

British Columbia a few years ago

during the height of the bootleg

tape craze that cost the record

industry millions of dollars.

Spotting someone huddled near

the stage with elaborate recording

equipment, Grant, a former wrestler

and stand-in for outsized actor

Robert Morley, raced over and

smashed the machinery, sending

the operator tumbling. Fair

enough, except the man turned out

to be someone conducting noise

experiments for the Canadian


Mentioning the Incidents

brought a smile to Grant's face as

he relaxed in his hotel suite here

the day after the start of Zeppelin's

first U.S. tour in two years.

Almost everything brought a

smile this afternoon. Not even a

reminder of Zeppelin's longstanding

clash with the press darkened

his mood.

Grant's band — whose future

was in question after a 1975 injury

to lead singer Robert Plant's right

foot kept the English quartet from

performing for months — was

back together, Bigger than ever.

While Time and Newsweek salute

Paul McCartney^ Bruce

Springsteen, Stevie wonder,

Linda Ronstadt and Bob Dylan in

their occasional forays into the

pop culture, Zeppelin outsells

them all. More than 700,000 tickets

for the band's 40 shows on its

current tour were sold as fast as

box offices could process them.

The group already has sold out

six nights (starting June 21) at the

18,700-seat Inglewood Forum.

That's the most shows ever

booked in a row by a pop attraction

at the Forum. Most sources

agree Zeppelin could have easily

sold out a seventh or eighth show.

The demand for tickets was so

Intense in some cities that miniriots


So what, then, if the media

was off chasing the Rolling Stones

and Margaret Trudeau in Toronto

rather than huddled with notepads

and cameras at Grant's door?

Kids knew Zeppelin was the real

story in rock. Besides, the press

never mattered to Grant. Zeppelin's

success was over the objections

of critics who labeled the

band's music as indulgent, excessive

and derivative. Zeppelin record

sales are upwards of $150 million.

Grant figures the media's refusal

to acknowledge the group's

commercial supremacy in rock

has, ironically, only helped reinforce

Zeppelin's ties with its

young audience. That's why the

band doesn't court the press.

There was no junket to Dallas for

the start of the. tour the way the

Who did last year in Houston.

There also aren't backstage receptions

after each show the way

Paul McCartney did on his last

tour. All that stuff bores the band,

a Grant aide claims.

Offered Grant: "What do reviews

or stories mean? Record

companies cut them out, mimeograph

5,000 copies or whatever

and send them to radio stations or

to each other. Big deal.

"The main thing to remember is

the people in the street. Their

belief in the group is what is important

It doesn't matter what

anybody says about a group, it's

what the group does on stage or on

record that counts. Zeppelin has

always delivered.

"That's how we can have kids

camping outside the Forum in the

parking lot for days without taking

out an ad or sell 20,000 tickets

in Detroit just because one disc

jockey says tickets are going on


Led Zeppelin was a hit from the

beginning, Jimmy Page, the

band's celebrated, 33-year-old

guitarist, was known as a top session

player in England before he

was 21. He played on hundreds of

records in the mid-1960s, from the

Who's I Can't Explain to Joe

Cocker's With a Little Help From

My Friends.

For the new group, Page picked

John Paul Jones, a bass player

who bad gained attention as arranger

on Donovan's Sunshine Superman

and the Rolling Stones'

She's a Rainbow. He also tabbed

two unknowns: singer Robert

Plant and drummer John Bonham.

Atlantic Records signed the

oand — largely on the strength of

Page's reputation — and plans for

the first U.S. tour were begun. The

album reviews were almost all

negative. Many critics called the

group a blatant attempt to fill the

vacated Cream-Hendrix-Yardbirds

high-energy, blues-based,

guitar-dominated tradition in


But audiences, particularly In

America, responded strongly. The

album made the Top 10 and stayed

on the national charts more than a

year. The band's real strength,

however, was in its live shows.

"It's an impossibility to think a

band is ever going to be as big as

Zeppelin has become," Peter

Grant said, looking back on the

early days of the group. "But we

thought we were going to be successful.

I knew what was required

over here and Jimmy Page knew

what was required. We were fortunate

that the underground scene

was happening, there were lots of

halls around the country that

served as opinion makers and we

got them into all of them.

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