Led Zeppelin are one of the most iconic British bands in history – and one of the most notoriously guarded. But in our November Book of the Month, conveniently also called Led Zeppelin, industry insider Bob Spitz gives the full measure of a group many consider to be the greatest rock band of all time.
Separating the not inconsiderable myth from the equally gargantuan reality, Led Zeppelin recalls how virtuosic ‘sophisticates’ Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones blended with the wilder, more forceful Robert Plant and John Bonham to take centre stage in an industry just beginning to slip out from the grip of the Beatles and the Stones. Since 1969 their albums have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide, and combined have spent more than a decade in the official album charts.
Drawing on years of research and deep insider access, Bob Spitz’s account of Led Zeppelin’s artistic journey is more than just a music biography. It is also the story of how the 60s became the 70s, how rock moved from the clubs to the stadiums, and the transmutation of innocence into decadence.
Praise for Led Zeppelin:
“Music biographer Spitz (The Beatles) calls on his supreme research and analytical skills to deliver the definitive story of one of the greatest rock groups of the 1970s. While this isn’t the first (or second) telling of the Zeppelin saga, it reigns superior to its predecessors with an exhaustive history that never flags in momentum or spirit. He takes an unsparing look at how the band’s massive success snowballed into a ‘heedless hedonism’ that led to their decline and disbanding… For all the excess and cruelty Spitz recounts, his passion for the band’s musical genius will captivate rock enthusiasts.” – Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Wielding his signature tools of meticulous reporting, piercing analysis and trenchant writing, Bob Spitz proves again that he’s a modern master of cultural biography. Led Zeppelin: The Biography cuts through the myth and murk to reveal the true story of the biggest, bawdiest rock ‘n’ roll band of the 1970s. Like the music they made, Led Zeppelin’s story is equal parts inspiring, electrifying and shocking. Led by the most brutal manager in the business, the quartet blitzed the world like a marauding army, crushing critical resistance and sales records as easily as they seduced groupies and consumed mammoth quantities of booze and drugs. Spitz goes deeper and sees more clearly than any previous biographer, and his storytelling powers make it spellbinding.” – Peter Carlin, author of Bruce and Sonic Boom
“As he did with his book on the Beatles, Bob Spitz uses deep research and a wide lens to create the single most comprehensive book about a legendary band. So much of Zeppelin’s history is cemented in lore that hardcore fans may feel they know ‘all’ the history already, but Spitz’s great accomplishment is to make every corner of LZ’s history – from their 1968 debut to their Berlin swan song – feel fresh again. You simply don’t want this story to end, or this book.” – Charles R. Cross, author of Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain and Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix
“Bob Spitz shows Led Zeppelin as the iconoclasts they were, grinding the self-consciousness of rock ‘n roll in the 70s into submission without a backward glance. Infamous stories from the road, tales of excess, dominance, and ego are balanced by the band’s insatiable desire for heat and beauty. This is the story of poetry and power, rape and pillage, of rock ‘n roll incarnate. A valuable recording of rock art history. So well done!” – Ann Wilson, Heart
“As he did with his magisterial The Beatles, Bob Spitz tells the story of Led Zeppelin with a poet’s heart, and with a knowledge of that sweep of musical and cultural history that is breathtaking. Every detail, from their formation via leader Jimmy Page’s Yardbirds to their last show, in Munich, in 1979 – the recordings, the live shows, the business, the debauchery, the way it all landed in the world – is explored with sophistication. And the book makes a serious contribution to the #MeToo canon. Panoramic, viscerally exciting, and sociologically majestic: books on popular culture simply don’t get any better than this.” – Sheila Weller, author of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon And the Journey of a Generation
“Bob Spitz always gets right to the heart of the story, whether it’s the story of Dylan, the Beatles, or Julia Child. This story, the outrageous story of Led Zeppelin and all its rock ‘n roll craziness, is right here in these pages.” – Graham Nash
“From LZ’s guitar-god origins through its boozy, drug-addled decline, Bob Spitz doesn’t miss a riff, solo or trashed hotel room. But like the band itself, what emerges most profoundly is the historic, stop-what-you’re-doing sound – loud, bluesy, unapologetic. This is everything you could want in a rock biography.” – Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins
Led Zeppelin by Bob Spitz
is published 11th November 2021 by Putnam
(9780399562426, h/b, £30)