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Led Zeppelin is the No.1 Rock and Roll Band of All Time

Peter Cross

I`ve been in rock and roll all my life and I`m well aware that The Rolling Stones have been called the best rock and roll band. Don`t get me wrong because I love Mick and the Stones, and the Beatles were my major musical influence, but here`s why I think that Led Zeppelin is the best rock and roll band of all time:


First of all, John Bonham was the best rock and roll drummer ever to walk the face of this planet, and that`s an informed opinion coming from a former professional drummer. John played drums unlike anyone else ever did, still does, or ever will, and that fact is continually demonstrated in the astounding breadth and depth of his recorded work. He had complete independence in all four limbs, he slammed his drums harder than anyone else, and he did it with speed and total precision, never once dropping the beat. His beats were innovative and creative, and John was never stuck in simple grooves. His fills were innovative, creative, complex, and technically brilliant, he knew when to keep it relatively simple (i.e. Kashmir), but he was always in the stratosphere of drumming. And to top that all off, John created a giant drum sound which is unique. It inspired a host of imitators who were able to imitate the sound of his snare drum, but only with a simple backbeat. At the time that Led Zep was formed, Jimmy Page c ould have gotten any drummer in the world to play with him, and he chose John. There`s not one single drummer alive or dead who can begin to touch John`s power, creativity, speed, precision, and technical brilliance. I`ve heard that Jimmy still feels the same way about John as I do.

Secondly, Jimmy Page has always been one of the best rock guitarists ever, right from his earliest days as a session player and the beginning of his real public stardom in the Yardbirds. I believe that Jimmy is the most brilliantly prolific of all the great rock and roll guitarists. I suspect that Jimmy would agree with me that Jimi Hendrix was the one true genius of guitar because he came from another galaxy in terms of his sound and his use of feedback. But unfortunately, Jimi died and we will never know how much further he would have progressed. When I listen to Jimmy`s solos using the violin bow, I get the urge to put him on the same pedestal as Hendrix and wonder which galaxy they both came from. As a songwriter, Jimmy used his superior ability to play lead guitar to create actual song structure. Led Zep`s songs use not one or two of Jimmy`s incredibly powerful, complicated and unbelievably SEXY riffs in each song, but there are four, five or more riffs in some songs. Jimmy`s riffs differ from each other within each song, and also from song to song. His lead guitar playing can be HARD and sexy, he can be sensitive and beautiful, and he can be technically brilliant, all in the very same song.

Thirdly, John Paul Jones is a bass player who attained a level of brilliance comparable to Paul McCartney. Just like McCartney, John could play beautiful "melodic" bass (i.e. "Ramble On"), he could play as fast as it gets, but he also knew when to keep it simple and just hold down the bottom although I think he was incapable of doing that without utter sophistication. No one at all can touch those two on bass, and John also played consistently brilliant keyboards - piano, organ and synthesizer. The intricate way in which he wove his bass guitar playing into, through, and underneath Jimmy`s guitar playing is nothing short of perfection itself.

And last but not at all least, Robert Plant had an incredibly high vocal range, emotionally as well as in terms of octaves. Just like Dylan was for his own music, Robert`s voice was perfect for Led Zep`s music and there`s no other singer who could possibly have fit in. As a professional singer, I`m knocked out


Hardly anybody has ever covered Led Zep songs for very good reasons. Their song structure is based on their vastly superior playing abilities and there`s no one who can actually play what they played. I`m talking about songs that are not based on simple chords like all other rock and roll is. Jimmy and Robert based their songs on Jimmy`s riffs and on his chordal tonalities that to this day stand alone as being unique. I`m also talking about length of songs that maintain a constant and intense high, up to 11 minutes in length without resorting to an overly repetitive chorus. I know from Robert`s solo work after Led Zep that he also uses unusual tonalities in his writing, but even without actually knowing this I would have to assume that due to Jimmy Page being an erupting fountain of brilliant guitar work, the majority of the non-vocal music creation came from Jimmy. The Beatles certainly deserve abject worship for John and Paul`s creative songwriting ability, no question about that. Certainly Mick and Keith w rote a slew of classic, historic and truly memorable rock songs, but the very nature of their comparatively simple rock and roll structure and basic similarity to each other in terms of using major and minor chord progressions, simple and basic rock and roll rhythms, and verse/chorus/bridge approach defines them as being less innovative when compared to Robert and Jimmy.


Here they outdistance The Stones because most of the Stones` albums have "fillers", which are songs that do not hit the same intense high that got slammed in all their best ones. However, I`d like to say that I don`t think either Mick or Robert is capable of recording anything short of a brilliant vocal. The Beatles actually exceed Led Zep in terms of numbers of great albums that constitute a greater body of brilliant and uniquely innovative work that literally broke new musical ground with every single song they recorded. The Beatles were simply The Beatles, and they were the most creative rock and roll band ever, from being the best singers and songwriters ever right down to their individual charm and charisma. But without denigrating their gorgeous, sensitive and original style of playing, what they recorded is not the heavy type of rock and roll that either the Stones or Led Zep played. George, Paul and John were all brilliant and creative guitarists, but because they did not improvise on stage, they were not really master guitarists. I love and respect Ringo as both a person and as a very creative drummer who mastered the art of drum sounds. He has his own unmistakable Ringo style for both, but he`s not really a master drummer in the sense of being able to play with great speed and dexterity. I`m talking about 9 Led Zep albums chock full of brilliant and intensely high songs - I don`t know how many hours of great rock and roll listening that is. There`s not a single weak track among all that work, and there`s simply no question that they consistently broke new ground musically. Their debut album is still the best one of all time (including Cream`s), and Coda, their "swan song" is equally perfect.


Led Zep was there when the concept of "rock and roll star" was still evolving. I will grant that the Stones at least deserve honorable mention as the best rock and roll band but it`s mostly because of their impressive touring record and Mick`s superstar stage presence with his ability to put on a great show every single time he appears. And he`s still doing it at age 60 for goodness sake! My point isn`t that Led Zep necessarily had the best stage presence, just that they did have a true rock star sexual aura.

I could go on about Jimmy Page`s abilities as a producer, and there are other aspects to their greatness like the length of time they were together without a change of band members. And the life they actually led as archtypical wild rock and roll bad boys equals the life led

In conclusion, the above four categories do enough to fully qualify Led Zeppelin for my not-so-humble award. There will never be another rock and roll band to approach the stratospheric musical heights that Led Zep reached. The Recording Industry Association of America, who has the correct statistics, lists Led Zeppelin as the third best selling musical act/artist in history. The Beatles are first, with 166.5 million albums sold in the USA alone, Elvis is second with 117.5 million, and Led Zep is third with 106 million. I think it`s very significant that those statistics are becoming geometrically times greater than the number of albums that they sold during their performance lifetimes. What has happened and is happening is that the young people of today are discovering them in droves because they are coming of age sexually and they recognize and connect with the most powerful musical example of that sexual power. They are buying their CD`s, shirts, posters and other memorabilia. And frankly, I`m thrilled.

Mysterious Piano Man is farmer`s son from Bavaria

Independent, The (London) , Aug 23, 2005 by Cahal Milmo

His virtuoso performances captivated his carers and his studied sketches of a grand piano produced in silence pointed to a tortured genius.

Then, after four months in the starring role of a mystery that captivated the world, and without uttering a word, the enigma known as Piano Man revealed his strangest talent of all. He can talk after all.

Managers at the Little Brook Hospital in Dartford, Kent, where Piano Man had been cared for since May, confirmed that the gaunt blond-haired man had been discharged after a `marked improvement` in his condition.

A source at the West Kent NHS and Social Care Trust described as `largely correct` reports that far from being a concert-level pianist struck dumb by an unutterable ordeal, Piano Man is a German former psychiatric worker whose musical skills are seemingly limited to hitting a single key repeatedly.

The German foreign ministry confirmed that the unnamed patient, who is 20, had flown to Munich in his home region of Bavaria on Saturday.

One staff member at the NHS trust said the patient, who had resolutely refused to speak since he was found in a dripping suit on a Kent beach, astonished his carers a week ago by suddenly revealing his family history.

The worker told the Daily Mirror: `A nurse went into his room on Friday and said, `Are you going to speak to us today?` He simply answered, `Yes, I think I will`. We were stunned. He has been with us for months and we have got nowhere with him. We thought he was going to be with us for ever.

`We found out he used to work with mentally-ill patients and seems to have used their characteristics. He had us all fooled though, including two very senior doctors.

`He told us all about his family in Germany. His dad owns a farm and he has two sisters. He also said he was gay.`

The appearance of the slight stranger on a beach near Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, dressed in a black suit from which all the labels had been cut, created headlines around the world.

More than 200 names were put forward from Argentina to the Netherlands suggesting identities for Piano Man, who gained his nickname after performing parts of Tchaikovsky`s Swan Lake for four hours non-stop within hours of his discovery. Social workers who first dealt with the anxious patient described his playing as `beautiful`.

Investigators checked with orchestras touring south-east England to see if they were missing any players while some suggested the mystery man was a Scandinavian seaman swept from his ship off the Kent coast.

The reality is that Piano Man apparently arrived in Britain on board Eurostar after losing his job in Paris, and had been trying to take his life when he was spotted by police on the beach.

The Daily Mirror reported that his status as a virtuoso had also been exaggerated. Staff insisted he was nonetheless able to perform as they had described.

Although the man was not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or autism, as some experts suggested, there were suggestions that he may have a mental condition.

A source said: `If he is a conman, remaining silent for four monthsis fairly extreme behaviour. He is either of little ambition or perhaps himself disturbed.` The West Kent NHS trust refused to comment on suggestions that it might seek to sue the man to recover some of the tens of thousands of pounds spent on his care. During his treatment, staff brought in translators from Norway to Latvia to try to coax Piano Man into speaking and he was seen by at least two senior psychiatrists.

The end of Piano Man`s silence concludes one of the more intriguing cases of supposed identity loss. Theories as to his identity included claims that he was Tomas Strnad, a member of Czech tribute band, and Steven Villa Massone, a French street performer. But both Mr Strnad and Mr Massone turned up alive and well in their home countries.

Earlier this month, staff at the Little Brook Hospital said that he may never be identified.


Copyright 2005 Independent Newspapers UK Limited

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

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