Coming on November 9th via Penguin Press — just over 50 years to the day of Led Zeppelin‘s legendary untitled fourth album (Led Zeppelin IV) — is author Bob Spitz‘s new book on the band, titled Led Zeppelin: The Biography. Spitz is best known for his critical acclaimed 2005 biography, The Beatles.
According to the book’s official announcement:
Bob Spitz takes the music seriously, and brings the band’s artistic journey to full and vivid life. The music is only part of the legend, however: Led Zeppelin is also the story of how the 60’s became the 70’s, of how playing in clubs became playing in stadiums and flying your own jet, of how innocence became decadence.
Led Zeppelin may not have invented the groupie, and they weren’t the first rock band to let loose on the road, but they took it to an entirely new level, as with everything else. Not all the legends are true, but in Bob Spitz’s careful accounting, what is true is astonishing, and sometimes disturbing.
Led Zeppelin gave no quarter, and neither has Bob Spitz. Led Zeppelin is the full and honest reckoning the band has long awaited, and richly deserves.
Jimmy Page told us that he had the structure of Led Zeppelin completely mapped out before even attempting to form the band: “I sort of knew what way I wanted this group to go. Having played with the Yardbirds in America where they had all the underground circuit, like, y’know, the sort of Fillmore’s, and the Grade Ballroom in Detroit — all these sort of places. That there’d been a real following for what we were doing in the Yardbirds. So, when they folded, I thought, ‘Well, I’ve just got to continue.’ I know what the climate is, the situation, and what the radio situation is over there. I knew we don’t want to do singles, and I knew I was going to produce the group. Y’know, I mean, that’s what I wanted to do.”
Robert Plant explained that throughout his career he’s luckily been able to rise to heights of the talent surrounding him: “It’s the company you keep, y’know? I mean that’s the very essence of life within and surrounding music. I mean, I’m very, very fortunate not to be held down by not being an instrumentalist. I can, kind of, arrive and disappear and I can add to a moment with a group of people — or I can destroy the moment.”
Co-founding bassist John Paul Jones told us that band politics never came into play when the band was working up new material: “We always made music in the same way — we all know whether something works or not. When we wrote music together, you know, if somebody came up with an idea, if it didn’t work, you didn’t have to be taken to a room quietly to say, ‘Y’know, we can’t use this,’ y’know? Everybody knows, ‘Hey, this is rubbish! Y’know, let’s do something else!’ And we’d go on to something that does work, and then everybody knows it works.”