Author of Led Zeppelin Day by Day, Marc Roberty, asked the big question on every Led Zeppelin fans mind…”Will Led Zeppelin ever reunite?” Visit our performing arts community, backwing.com to get the low down on whether they will ever get back together. Read a preview of the article below!
Will the founding fathers of modern rock ever give their fans the farewell tour now almost four decades overdue? A Led Zep historian considers the prospect.
The mighty Led Zeppelin existed for twelve years between 1968 and 1980. The sudden death of drummer John Bonham effectively signalled the end of the band in their eyes. How could they possibly have carried on without their powerhouse drummer and dear friend?
Of course, this did not stop fans from hoping the band would reform with a new drummer. There has been the odd get–together for charitable appearances, such as Live Aid in 1985 and Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary in 1988. Although these shows were met with mass delirium from eager fans, in reality, both inevitably fell short on the performance side. (Then again, to be fair, this is not the band’s fault: multi-act events with short three- or four-song sets are never hugely successful from a creative perspective.)
By 1994, Robert Plant had distanced himself from the whole “rock singer” tag. After being approached to perform an MTV Unplugged show, he felt uncomfortable flying the Led Zeppelin flag under his own name. A meeting took place between Robert and Jimmy Page where they talked about doing the show together. Much to his surprise, the Led Zeppelin baggage Robert had been carrying around for years had completely dissipated. The men found common ground and decided to do Unplugged together and see if anything came of it (much to the vexation of a miffed John Paul Jones, who was not invited—or even told—of the event!). They did not go out as Led Zeppelin, but rather as Page & Plant. Also, the MTV show was retitled Unledded due to the electric nature of some numbers. A live record and video from the show, which consisted of rearranged Led Zeppelin classics, were hugely successful. A new studio album and a few tours later, it was all over. When all the bad memories of Led Zeppelin playing huge arenas returned, Plant had enough. He told Page he was leaving, as he much preferred playing small clubs and reconnecting with his audience.
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Arthur Laurents, a writer, director, and also an author of Original Story By, Mainly On Directing, and The Rest Of The Story, was featured in The Wow Report on WorldofWonder.net. He is best known for directing three revivals of Gypsy, but in his trio of memoirs we learn much more about the Tony Award winning director. Read about Arthur Laurents and his works in the article below!
July 14, 1917– Arthur Laurents, as the story goes: late for his place on a panel discussion, Laurents burst onto the stage draped in mink and announced: “Behold, a living legend!” Stephen Sondheim, also on the panel, looked up and said: “Wrong on both counts”.
I just ate up his trio of memoirs Original Story By (2000), Mainly On Directing (2009), and The Rest Of The Story (2012), each chock full of yummy, dishy theatre and Hollywood stories. Laurents is important to me in many ways. I admire the way he boldly lived his life. I love his work, most especially because he wrote the book for my favorite musical Gypsy (1959), which I find to be a perfect piece of theatre. Musical Theatre fanatics will go on forever discussing the subject of who was the greatest Mama Rose in this landmark musical. This casting quandary can be a playful parlor game or a bitter argument for Musical Theatre types. Jerome Robbins directed the original production, but Laurents directed three revivals of Gypsy including my favorite version starring my good close personal friend Angela Lansbury in 1974, but there was also Tyne Daly in 1989 and Patti Lupone’s 2007 Tony Award winning turn.
In 2010, at 92 years old, Laurents directed a revival of West Side Story, a theatre classic for which he wrote the original lean, strong book. In this production, it was Laurents’s conceit to have the Sharks and their girls, who are from Puerto Rico, speak and sing in Spanish. The cast would all be young and if not Puerto Rican, at least Hispanic. Laurents explained that the idea came from his partner of 52 years, Tom Hatcher (Laurents and actor Farley Granger had been lovers in the late 1940s), who admired a production of the musical in South America. It was also Hatcher who urged Laurents to revive Gypsy with Patti LuPone, so that the controversial Sam Mendes directed 2003 production starring Bernadette Peters would not be the last Gypsy in Laurents’s lifetime.
Laurents won four Tony Awards and was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning for his screenplay for The Turning Point (1977).
His life encompassed great swaths of 20th century cultural history and the famous figures within it. His theatre career had barely started when Laurents was drafted into the Army in 1941. He spent the war years writing training films and radio propaganda shows under the command of Private George Cukor. He had also come to terms with his gayness and soon lost count of the sexual experiences he experienced while in the Army. In Original Story By he writes openly of his lifetime of gay encounters, referring to his partners as “those unremembered hundreds.”
As a gay man living as openly as possible during some of this country’s most dangerous times, Laurents was a role model of discretion, but he was living the way he wanted, despite public opinion and cruelty against gay people everywhere.
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Longtime Columbia residents are unlikely to forget when the Grateful Dead performed in town for three summers in a row back in the 1980s. Throngs of the band’s followers trucked into town clad in headbands and colorful tie-dye shirts and skirts. They then proceeded to camp out in Symphony Woods and bathe in the fountains at the Mall in Columbia.
To use a Deadhead expression, this “freaked out” a lot of locals. After one too many weird Deadhead sightings, disgruntled residents held meetings with local police, reporters wrote news stories, and opposing opinions flew back and forth in the pages of the Columbia Flier.
Talk of all this controversy still goes on in places like the Facebook page “You know you grew up in Columbia Md when…” where it’s rumored the Dead were eventually banned from Merriweather.
All of which begs the question — Is the band back because the ban was lifted?
No, because “there was never a ban,” says Jean Parker, Merriweather’s longtime general manager. “That is not accurate.”
Part of the reason the rumor has been kept alive all these years is because when people Google the topic, what comes up is a Los Angeles Times article from June 6, 1990, titled “Pavilion bans Grateful Dead.” But that article was factually incorrect, says Times’ historian, Ralph Drew, by email. “On Friday, June 8, 1990, the Los Angeles Times printed a correction,” he notes.
A Pavilion official first dispelled this rumor in a letter after being queried by Columbia resident John Sybert in 1994. “Merriweather has never banned any acts from performing at its venue and, to my knowledge, neither has the community,” wrote customer relations manager Julie M. Kershner.
The reason the band didn’t return to Merriweather after 1985 (save for a 1989 solo Garcia appearance) was because they had outgrown the venue.
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