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Marc Roberty Discusses Led Zeppelin with Spill Magazine

00125658Led Zeppelin – who hasn’t heard of them, one of the legendary giants of the Hard Rock genre? Many stories, myths and legends have been told of the band’s history. Probably one of the most featured bands and most written about bands ever!

Music journalist and award-nominated author Marc Roberty sat down with Mark Dean of Spill Magazine to discuss his latest book, Led Zeppelin: Day by Day , along with his writing career.

What would make this book different from other Led Zeppelin books? Roberty discussed the balance he found in creating a book that not only reached fans that had never read a Led Zeppelin book, but for the hard core fans as well. There was a lot of information released in previous books which would seem difficult to create new content, but he was able to add new information that had not been released in addition to correcting incorrect information.

The interview went on to discuss Roberty’s journey in writing this book and others.

My forte is more in the research,and finding stuff that people possibly have not known before. That is really what I enjoy doing. I have done a lot of research of music, films. I try and find old footage or old studio material that to all intents and purposes has disappeared. I try and track things down. That is probably my forte: really to try and get to the bottom of things. Follow the story through to its ending. Sometimes the search carries on. That I do find enjoyable.

Led Zeppelin: Day by Day includes details of all the concerts why band performed with known set lists in addition to reviews of significant hows throughout their career. Recording sessions for each album and session work by individual members are listed chronologically. There are also quotes from recording engineers and staff to give further insight into what it was like to be in the studio with the group.

Mark Roberty has written for the Guitarist, Rolling Stone, Financial Times, and others. In addition to his latest work about Led Zeppelin he has written several books about Eric Clapton along with co-authored the autobiography of Bobby Whitlock.


Learn more by reading the full interview here.

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The Big Led Zeppelin Question…

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!


 00125658Will 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.


Read the article in its entirety HERE

47 Years Ago Today…

On August 19th 1971, Led Zeppelin played in Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This was Led Zeppelin’s 7th US Tour and would be best remembered for what Peter Grant did during the concert. Marc Roberty has covered everything about that tour date and more in his book, Led Zeppelin: Day by Day. Take a peek inside the book and learn what Peter Grant did in the excerpt below!


LedZepDBD_text_final.jpgLED ZEPPELIN
SEVENTH US TOUR


19 AUGUST 1971–17 SEPTEMBER 1971

19 August 1971, Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, British
Columbia, Canada (8:30 p.m.)

Setlist not known but would probably have consisted of the following: Immigrant Song / Heartbreaker / Since I’ve Been Loving You / Out On The Tiles Intro / Black Dog / Dazed And Confused / Stairway To Heaven / Celebration Day / That’s The Way / What Is And What Should Never Be / Moby Dick / Whole Lotta Love (including Boogie Chillun’, My Baby Left Me, Mess O’ Blues, You Shook Me) / Communication Breakdown / Organ Solo / Thank You

This show is best remembered as the one where Peter Grant smashed up a Canadian official’s noise measuring equipment thinking it was a bootlegger taping the show. The New Musical Express in England reported, “Led Zeppelin cause plenty of action in the
audience as well as on stage! Zeppelin is in the middle of an American tour. Last weekend in Vancouver the band played in a hockey arena which houses over 13,000 people but it wasn’t enough and nearly 3,000 didn’t get in. Inevitably the police clashed with the punters outside. During the show a group of government scientists were checking sound levels but their equipment was mistaken for bootlegging gear. Their equipment was summarily destroyed. The local police are looking for the band’s manager for questioning.”

00125658.jpg21 August 1971, the Forum, Inglewood, Los Angeles, California
(8:30 p.m.)

Setlist: Immigrant Song / Heartbreaker / Since I’ve Been Loving You / Out On The Tiles Intro / Black Dog / Dazed And Confused / Stairway To Heaven / That’s The Way / Going
To California / What Is And What Should Never Be / Whole Lotta Love (including Boogie Chillun’, I’m Moving On, That’s Alright Mama, Dr. Kitch, Mess O’ Blues, Got A Lot O’Livin’ To Do, Honey Bee, Sugar Mama Blues, Gee, Baby Ain’t I Good To You, Kind Hearted Woman Blues) / Weekend / Rock And Roll / Communication Breakdown / Organ Solo / Thank You

Once again, the band play amazingly for the Los Angeles crowd, which is rewarded with a lengthy version of “Whole Lotta Love” with many covers in the medley. The night ends with a beautiful “Thank You,” which sums up the band’s feeling toward the audience.

22 August 1971, the Forum, Inglewood, Los Angeles, California
(8:30 p.m.)

Setlist: Walk Don’t Run / Immigrant Song / Heartbreaker / Since I’ve Been Loving You / Out On The Tiles Intro / Black Dog / Dazed And Confused / Stairway To Heaven / Celebration
Day / That’s The Way / What Is And What Should Never Be / Moby Dick / Whole Lotta Love (including Boogie Chillun’, My Baby Left Me, Mess O’ Blues, You Shook Me) / Communication Breakdown / Organ Solo / Thank You

Just when you think the previous night’s performance could not be bettered, Led Zeppelin put in another killer performance, opening up with a surprise cover of the Venture’s “Walk Don’t Run” hit single before pulverizing the crowd with “Immigrant Song.” Plant is not taking any chances with his voice, though, as he went all out at the previous show and has to warn the audience that “tonight my voice is really fucked, so I don’t think we’re gonna do much harmonizing. But we’re gonna try—so, vibe on!” It was true that at some points his voice sounded a little worn, particularly on “Stairway To Heaven,” but to be honest this was in no way going to ruin what was otherwise an impeccable and dynamic concert.

Happy Birthday to Robert Plant!

Today is Robert Plant’s 67th birthday! While best known lead singer for Led Zeppelin, that wasn’t all that defined him. Two years after Led Zeppelin broke up, Plant went solo and has maintained an unbroken career ever since.  Author Dave Thompson’s book, Robert Plant The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin, shines a light on Plant’s solo career.  Below is an excerpt of the book, check it out!


00120813 It is a rare talent indeed, then, that can sustain the initial impetus and spread
it over much more than four albums; a rarer one still that can keep it going
for four decades; and even Robert Plant will admit that there have been
times throughout his solo career when the roar of the crowd became more
of a murmur, and the plaudits that once popped like corks were suddenly
plopping instead.
On those occasions, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to
make a few phone calls, rehearse a few songs, reprise an old band name . . .
and once, that is precisely what he did. But when the headlines announced
back in 2012 that Robert Plant was re-forming the group he used to play
with, it was a revamped Strange Sensation that roared out of the garage,
and the slate was swept clean overnight.
Whether at the helm of Led Zeppelin, where it was generally Plant’s
lyrics that set the mood of the music; alone with his own band; or drifting through the welter of side projects that have occupied him throughout the intervening years, Plant has rarely stood still for any longer than he needed to—and on the occasions he has, he just leapt a little further the next time around. But it is not the dilettante shuffling of rock’s other shapeshifting skipjacks that sustains him. A straight line drawn from Plant’s first recording will always lead to his latest, no matter how many technical, sonic, or cultural advances might separate the sessions, and no matter what caliber of musician he may choose to work with next.

To read more about Robert Plant, you can buy the book here.

Happy Birthday, Jimmy Page!

Jimmy Page, the legendary founder of Led Zeppelin, turns 70 today. Below is an excerpt from Led Zeppelin FAQ, by George Case, as well as the book trailer.

Page is one of the most famous rock musicians ever, both for his enduring music and his still-shadowy private predilections. He was the founder and producer of Led Zeppelin; the main of collaborative composer of almost all the quartet’s songs; the man who selected the other three players for membership; the final authority on Zeppelin’s official recorded output, tour schedules, and set lists; a guitar hero; a star concert attraction (considering he took no lead vocals and rarely spoke to the attendees); the curator of the band’s post-breakup archives; and the key figure in Zeppelin’s occult legendry. His skills on electric and acoustic guitar led many other professional and amateur plays to emulate (or further) his techniques, and his ingenuity and improvisations in the studio are some of the most crucial developments in the science of recorded pop music. Photographs of Page as the long-haired, open-shirted instrumentalist with his Les Paul slung to his thighs; as the backstage emperor guzzling Jack Daniel’s whiskey; as the spotlit soloist triumphantly hoisting his double-neck; or as the black-, white-, or SS-uniformed rock ’n’ roller taking adulatory center stage are some of the most iconic visions in popular culture. To sum up the artistic and intellectual ideal of “rock star,” it would be hard to find a better illustration than Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.

It is ironic, then, that Page was perhaps the least proficient musician of the group and the remaining member with the least adventurous track record after 1980. Though obviously a talented guitarist and a dynamic live performer, his actual playing from cut to cut and from concert to concert was erratic; though he instigated many of Led Zeppelin’s most indelible songs, they were immeasurably improved by the others, in some examples far beyond Page’s initial ideas. For a shrewd and sensitive industry professional, he, too, like the naïve Brum John Bonham, suffered badly from overindulgence in drugs and alcohol through the Zeppelin years, and the group’s final records and shows reflect the depths of his personal decline. His offstage pursuits of esoteric religions and sexual kinks, though verified well enough, have been repeated and exaggerated to the point where they have taken on a mystique disproportionate to Page’s substantive involvement with either. Strip away the fable and urban legend, and Jimmy Page emerges as a good but seldom brilliant artist smart and lucky enough to have placed himself in the middle of phenomena that have added to his renown more by passive association than deliberative action.

As an electric guitarist, Page had a knack for creating memorable sounds that was superior to his actual agility at playing, and many of his signature riffs – “Communication Breakdown,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Immigrant Song,” “The Ocean,” “The Wanton Song,” “In the Evening” – are marked more by their infectious hooks than by any fingerboard complexity (beginning players can get the hang of them with little difficulty). He was in fact a more advanced acoustic player, inventing a range of unusual tunings and demonstrating some quite delicate finger-style work on “Black Mountain Side,” “Bron-y-Aur Stomp,” “Stairway to Heaven,” “The Rain Song,” “Over the Hills and Far Away,” and “Bron-yr-Aur.” This diversity of ability, moving from idiosyncratic acoustic strumming on “Black Mountain Side” to solid electric boogie on “Communication Breakdown,” or from distorted guitar on “Rock and Roll” to pretty mandolin on “The Battle of Evermore,” helped Page sound more accomplished than he would have had he confined himself to any single genre – the songs and the styles change before his shortcomings become apparent. More than anything, Page’s strength was in isolating and perfecting (abetted by Jones and Bonham) the progressions or rhythmic figures he hit upon by chance, with his training as a session player instilling in him the ear and control required to go over tryout performances and shape them into something more striking or monolithic. Contemporaries such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck; later hard rock heroes including Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore, Black Sabbath’s Tonny Iommi, and AC/DC’s Angus Young; and virtuosi such as Eddie Van Halen, Al Di Meola, and Leo Kottke were better than Page at executing their own parts than he was at his, but Page was the master at recognizing effective notes when he heard them and then maximizing their impact.

Led Zeppelin FAQ

In this exhaustive and insightful reference text, rock writer and cultural critic George Case details the key names, dates, figures, and features of one of the biggest and most mythologized rock-and-roll groups of all time: Led Zeppelin. Here, finally, are the answers to the puzzles that have haunted fans for over four decades – puzzles such as the meaning of Led Zep’s enigmatic album covers; the truth about leader Jimmy Page’s involvement with the occult; a breakdown of the sometimes murky roots of their greatest songs; firm data on their musical instruments, live performances, and studio productions; and sordid specifics of the band’s infamously debauched private lives.

But here, too, is a deeply reflective analysis of why Led Zeppelin’s music has endured as long as it has, and of how Led Zeppelin’s mystique has only grown in the years since their official disbanding. Placing the group in the context of their time and place, Case scrupulously compares and contrasts their achievements with those of their influences, rivals, and followers.Led Zeppelin FAQ is not only an indispensable listener’s companion to a classic rock act, but a considered history of rock and roll as a business, an art form, and a worldwide social phenomenon.

You Can Never Go Back

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGuest Blogger: George Case, author of Led Zeppelin FAQ, Jimmy Page, and Out of Our Heads. To read his entire post on anachronisms in film and television, please visit his blog.

“The past is a foreign country,” runs L.P. Hartley’s famous quotation: “they do things differently there.” Has Hollywood ever heard this? Not, apparently, when it was decided that Cleopatra looked like Elizabeth Taylor or that a US military hospital in the Korean War was staffed with sensitive proto-feminists, and not even in the sophisticated meta-culture of the present. The slew of recent films and TV series set in bygone times carries on the show business tradition of misrepresenting how people looked and spoke decades ago, and in a deeper sense the works even fail to capture the way their characters would have really lived. The loss is the audience’s, and history’s.

Anachronisms abound. In the acclaimed Mad Men, Don Draper’s wife tells him, “I can’t deal with this” during an emotional confrontation – is that how spouses argued in 1962? In another episode Don and a female partner share a passionate embrace at a decadent pool party, while just across the water two gorgeous women are themselves kissing erotically. Same-sex amour and faux-lesbianism are no big deals nowadays, but were they so openly conducted fifty years back?  Recently, Don has even reflected to the psychedelic strains of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” in 1966 – a great song, we now know, but would a Brylcreemed ad exec really take an interest in an experimental album track at the time?

In Mad Men and elsewhere, the common mistake is in depicting the past with the sensibility of the present: costume dramas are appealing enough as long as the costumes are the only foreign element for viewers to take in…

Keep reading this post on George Case’s blog!

 

Led Zeppelin FAQ is not only an indispensable listener’s companion to a classic rock act, but a considered history of rock and roll as a business, an art form, and a worldwide social phenomenon.

Houses of the Holy

Guest Blogger: Rikky Rooksby is the author of many musical how-to books such as How to Write Songs on Guitar or Arranging Songs. Below is an excerpt from his blog. Please visit his site to read the whole article.

Houses of the Holy

As Dave Lewis (see the http://www.tbl.com website and Record Collector magazine feature) reminds us, March saw the 40th anniversary of the release of Led Zeppelin’s fifth album. Having numbered their first three LPs and titled the fourth with four symbols, they more conventionally gave the fifth a title: Houses of the Holy (a reference to their audiences and concert halls). The Zeppelin mystique was assuaged by the fact that the title was not printed on the sleeve but came as a paper wrap-around. The sleeve itself was a strikingly tinted photo montage of the Giant’s Causeway. Nor did the album contain the song ‘Houses of the Holy’, which was eventually released in 1975 on Physical Graffiti.

Houses of the Holy was a hugely-anticipated album, following the band’s elevation to international fame during the preceding two years, and the fourth album which contained ‘Stairway To Heaven’. Many were hoping for another ‘Stairway’ on the new album, and Robert Plant revealed in one interview that the band did indeed have a song metaphorically fired from the same cannon. This was ‘The Rain Song’, a very attractive altered-tuning ballad with rising and falling dynamics. The remaining seven songs included the uptempo rollercoaster ‘The Song Remains The Same’, the delightful acoustic / electric mix of ‘Over The Hills and Far Away’, the heavy rock winter nocturne of ‘No Quarter’, the unbuttoned and joyful rifferama of ‘The Ocean’ (its opening riff combing a bar of 4/4 with one of 7/8), and the two controversial tracks ‘D’Yer Mak’er’ and ‘The Crunge’.

These were received by the more prog-rock ‘hairy’ part of Zep’s audience as ideological crimes: the first for being reggae and the other for being James Brown funk, and both for being apparently Not Serious. How dare Zep waste several inches of vinyl bandwidth on musical jokes! was the cry. What happened to the Viking-horde-clamouring-for-Valhalla head-banging which was what the World’s Official Heaviest Band were supposed to deliver?

Keep reading on Rikky Rooksby’s blog!

Rikky Rooksby is a guitar teacher, songwriter/composer, and writer on popular music. Considered the premiere author of songwriting guides, Rooksby has also written numerous music history and guitar instruction books and has published over 200 interviews, reviews, articles, and transcriptions in music magazines. He has also transcribed and arranged more than 40 chord songbooks, including music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and many other artists.

A member of the Guild of International Songwriters and Composers, Rooksby is also a sought-after teacher who leads courses on music at The Oxford Experience and other international continuing education summer schools.

If You Like Led Zeppelin… then you’ll LOVE Rory Gallagher

The following is an excerpt from If You Like Led Zeppelin… by Dave Thompson, as posted on Shadowplays.com. Please visit their site to read the entire excerpt.

Blues guitarist Rory Gallagher moved to London from his native Ireland in late 1967 with Taste a band constructed firmly in the three-piece shape of the Experience and Cream. But it was Fleetwood Mac and, in particular, their guitarist Peter Green who gave Taste the confidence to follow their hearts, Gallagher later reflected — a debt he repaid shortly before his death in 1995, when he contributed a couple of tracks to the Rattlesnake Guitar Green tribute album.

“You cannot overestimate Fleetwood Mac’s importance at that time,” producer Mike Vernon agreed. “They brought the blues back into focus and rejuvenated the whole scene.” Vernon signed the infant Mac to his own Blue Horizon label, and admits it was the band’s immediate success that allowed the label to flourish as it did, becoming the primary staging ground for virtually every homegrown blues band of the era.

…And so back to Rory Gallagher, the man Jimi Hendrix once called the best guitarist in the world. Two studio albums attest to Taste’s brilliance, both released in the wake of Led Zeppelin I and both learning its lessons; Taste and On the Boards, two slabs of archetypal blues rock shot through with some astonishing detours. “some of the tracks,” affirmed Gallagher’s nephew and archivist, Daniel Gallagher, “could almost be very early metal, with that very deep, almost guttural bass. They tried to handle everything — tracks are country, the amazing jazz stuff they did on On the Boards — and that took a lot of attention away from that dark, brooding sound. It was brilliant. And if Rory had allowed ‘What’s Going On’ to be released as a single after [they played] the Isle of Wight Festival, when they were really flying, a lot could have changed.”

Keep reading this excerpt on Shadowplays.com!

If You Like Led Zeppelin… is the unique story of how Led Zeppelin came together not just as players, but as influences and ideas. It unearths the music that the musicians themselves were listening to, to open up an entire new world of experience and excitement for both casual and committed fans. It then travels beyond Led Zeppelin, to the bands and artists who in turn took their own lead from the Zep.

Music From Rikky Rooksby

Guest Blogger: Rikky Rooksby is an author and musician. To enjoy all of his works please visit his author page.

The writing of my best-selling series of books on guitar-based songwriting was grounded in my practical experience of writing and recording my own songs as well as listening carefully to those of others. I’ve now put a selection of songs in various styles on SoundCloud.com for listening. One song comes from an album of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys type songs. There’s another from an EP of songs marking the 25th anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s five nights at Earl’s Court in London in 1975. There are two free downloads,  out-takes from my forthcoming guitar instrumental album Atlantic Canticles. I’ve also included some extracts from my classical composing, including the first movements of a string quartet and a piano quartet, a string orchestra setting of the traditional folk tune ‘The Gaelic Waltz’, two extracts from commissioned music, and a short elegiac organ piece ‘For The Few’ written for the RAF pilots of the 1940 Battle of Britain. After the release of Atlantic Canticles I will release an album of songs.

Rikky Rooksby

Rikky Rooksby is a guitar teacher, songwriter/composer, and writer on popular music. Considered the premiere author of songwriting guides, Rooksby has also written numerous music history and guitar instruction books and has published over 200 interviews, reviews, articles, and transcriptions in music magazines. He has also transcribed and arranged more than 40 chord songbooks, including music by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and many other artists.

A member of the Guild of International Songwriters and Composers, Rooksby is also a sought-after teacher who leads courses on music at The Oxford Experience and other international continuing education summer schools.

Dave Thompson, an interview

Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. Each episode authors and their guests have a chat about the topics of their books. Today, author Dave Thompson chats with Patrick Phillips, host of the Patrick Phillips Show, about Dave’s new book If You Like Led Zeppelin… and to talk about the band’s influence and the bands who were influenced by the mighty Zep. Not to mention really odd things about band nicknames, where the name of the band came from, and playing records backward.

>>>Listen Here<<<

If You Like Led Zeppelin… is the unique story of how Led Zeppelin came together not just as players, but as influences and ideas. It unearths the music that the musicians themselves were listening to, to open up an entire new world of experience and excitement for both casual and committed fans. It then travels beyond Led Zeppelin, to the bands and artists who in turn took their own lead from the Zep.