Rock journalist and biographer Davis (Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N’ Roses, 2008, etc.) commemorates Led Zeppelin’s 1975 U.S. tour.
An extension of the author’s 1985 Zeppelin chronicle, Hammer of the Gods, the appearance of this book is somewhat puzzling. The ’75 American tour was neither the band’s first, last, best nor most notorious. It was plagued by illness (Robert Plant), injury (to Jimmy Page’s hand), lawsuits or criminal charges waiting to happen (to John Bonham, called “The Beast,” but never to his face) and equipment malfunction (John Paul Jones’s Mellotron, essential to the band’s new centerpiece, “Kashmir”). The chief justification for the book is Davis’s rediscovery of a boxful of notes and memorabilia from the tour, which he had covered for Atlantic Monthly (whose “old fart” editor in chief at the time never saw fit to actually run the piece). As odd a subject as the tour may seem, there are reasons to recommend it. In 1975, the band released Physical Graffiti, the first on their own Swan Song label. Previously considered just a band for suburban teenagers, Zeppelin was at the height of their commercial and critical success. However, the band members were beginning to be seen as overblown dinosaurs far removed from the concerns of their fans, and punk rock was bubbling up to challenge blues-influenced megabands like Zeppelin for the hearts and minds of anguished adolescents. Davis writes with enormous affection for that passing world, indulging in a little reminiscence of his own lost youth as he recalls his front-row seat for (arguably) the biggest band ever.
A somewhat ragged but intriguing time capsule, sure to appeal to Zeppelin and classic-rock fans.