At this juncture in history I think that it’s important that we all acknowledge that Led Zeppelin is the greatest band in rock and roll history and there will never be another band that comes close to the greatness of Led Zeppelin. They are the alpha and the omega of rock and roll.
Now, please don’t misinterpret this irrefutable fact. I did not say that Led Zeppelin is my favorite band. I did not say that they are the best songwriters in the history of rock and roll. I just said that they are the greatest band in rock and roll history. Here’s why:
Led Zeppelin is the greatest band in rock and roll history because each member of the band is the most valuable player in rock and roll history on their respective instrument AND the sum of the parts exceeds their individual contributions.
Robert Plant is the greatest vocalist in rock and roll history. He is also an excellent harmonica player. I can’t think of anyone who even comes close to Plant. Maybe Rod Stewart in his prime?
Jimmy Page is the greatest guitar player in rock and roll history. He also produced all of their records. Sure, I love Clapton, Beck, Hendrix and the old blues masters, but who else has the range of Page? He delivers the crunching chords as well as the heart-wrenching solos. Page is like Keith Richards and Mick Taylor combined into one player.
John Bonham is the greatest drummer in rock and roll history. Sure, Ringo Starr and Charlie Watts are amazingly talented drummers. Keith Moon was a monster. But Bonham beats them all. I get physically tired just listening to him play.
John Paul Jones is the greatest bassist in rock and roll history. He is also a great keyboard player. JPJ never gets enough credit but his work is stellar.
Led Zeppelin’s first seven albums are perfect. Sure, the songs are overplayed but can you think of another band that went 7 for 7? (Yes, In Through The Out Door kind of sucks, but it’s certainly better than most albums released by classic rock bands in 1980. And Coda doesn’t count as a real album.)
Led Zeppelin also gave the world the insanely entertaining film The Song Remains the Same. Each time I watch it I am amazed that someone greenlighted the concept. It’s a concert film! It’s an art film! It’s a film about people making tea, talking funny-style English, racing cars and roaming the countryside with devil eyes!
That said, does anyone remember laughter?
Led Zeppelin also had the good sense to call it quits after Bonzo died, keeping their legacy intact. Sure, it was mean of Page and Plant to reunite without JPJ, but how sweet is it that they really believed that there couldn’t be a Zeppelin without Bonham? Plus the initial Page-Plant reunion project, The Honeydrippers, was super cool and provided us with our wedding song (“Sea of Love”).
The only bad thing that can be said about Led Zeppelin is maybe, just maybe they had a tiny problem with pinching tunes from the old blues masters. Now, on the one hand, plagiarism is a bad thing and the courts seemed to agree that Jimmy might have lifted some riffs. On the other hand, the blues is a traditional form of music and building upon songs from the past is a part of the tradition. If you don’t believe me, you might want to give Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft a spin.
So there you have it – my completely unnecessary defense of Led Zeppelin’s legacy. I will now retire to my bedroom to stare at my blacklight hermit poster and draw runes on my Trapper Keeper.