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Led Zeppelin: The Oral History of the World's Greatest Rock Band Hardcover – October 1, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470894326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470894323
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews



""An exhaustive and exemplary portrait""—Bernadette McNulty, London Daily Telegraph

""This meticulously compiled oral history… has a wonderful humour and a careful examination of the how and why of the darkness that surrounded the band and its entourage.""—Hugh MacDonald, Sunday Herald (Scotland)

""An engrossing trip through the sordid '70s.""—Will Hodgkinson, The Times (London)

""Barney Hoskyns's exhaustive history… never forgets that behind the caricature was an extraordinary band, lithe and limber.""—Michael Hann, The Guardian (London)

""Hoskyns leaves no stone unturned."" —Publishers' Weekly

""Every time I think I know everything about Led Zeppelin, a book like this comes along and reminds me that I know nothing.""—Chuck Klosterman

""This is the proper book Zeppelin have always deserved.""—Nick Coleman, author of The Train in the Night 

""Barney Hoskyns is rock's poet of observation, a journalist with a very valuable gift for separating the nugget from the slag. [This oral history] is a complex tale that makes sense of the senseless, weighing artistic triumph against human tragedy.""—Fred Goodman, author of The Mansion on the Hill

""The saga of Led Zeppelin told by those who knew them when, this intimate oral history goes beyond scandal to reveal the all-too-humans behind this most Promethean of rock bands.""—Lenny Kaye

From the Inside Flap

"The saga of Led Zeppelin told by those who knew them when, this intimate oral history goes beyond scandal to reveal the all-too-human beings behind this most Promethean of rock bands, illuminating their expansive body of work and the times in which they exemplified the very essence of rock stardom."
—Lenny Kaye, author of You Call It Madness

In Led Zeppelin: The Oral History of the World's Greatest Rock Band, celebrated music writer Barney Hoskyns presents the definitive account of this iconic band, sharing riveting firsthand stories from the people who knew the group best. Based on more than two hundred interviews with insiders including Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and road manager Richard Cole, this comprehensive exposé explores the legends and pares away the myths. Led Zeppelin reveals what actually happened before, during, and after the group's twelve-year run as the biggest band on earth and what life was really like for four young men on top of the world as they enjoyed fame on a scale that not even the Beatles experienced as a touring live act.

Priceless accounts from fellow musicians, including Jeff Beck, members of the Rolling Stones, record company executives, recording engineers, roadies, and more than a few groupies reveal how Jimmy Page originally envisioned the band and how it was assembled, promoted, and primed for success. These insiders tell wild tales about the group's antics as they embarked on four U.S. tours in a single year yet were able to write, record, and release Led Zeppelin II at the same time. You'll discover new insights into the band's writing, arranging, and recording methods, from how they created the stupendous sound and dynamics on "Dazed and Confused" and "Whole Lotta Love" to the creation of the group's folk-suffused acoustic side.

Perhaps the most surprising fact you'll discover about Page, Plant, Jones, and Bonham is the loyalty they felt toward each other and the band. Their sense of themselves as four irreplaceable members of an inseparable unit is displayed movingly in the account of their decision to break up the band following John Bonham's untimely death in 1980.

Filled with dozens of never-before-published photos of the band and its members from early childhood through the glory years, this book is essential reading for every Led Zeppelin fan and for anyone interested in rock history.

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Customer Reviews

A very good read for zeppelin fans and highly recommended.
Strat Monger
This is such a great document of the band, with all types of folks that were involved with them over the years.
Martha R Burczyk
Disjointed paragraphs from friends make it very difficult to follow.
Guitar Gregg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Feedback68 on October 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A comprehensive oral history by Barney Hoskyns which includes interviews, past and present from 200 sources to complete a page turning 576 page book with a bunch of mostly rare photos thrown in.

One of the most incredible things about Led Zeppelin that comes through from this
book is how the whole thing lasted as long as it did. While writing and recording the greatest rock albums of all time in mobile trucks and freezing cold rural cottages, Zeppelin re-wrote the rule book on how to rip it up on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The groupies came crawling out of the woodwork. No one was exempt from manager Peter Grants take on how things were to be done, not even the legendary Bill Graham. The 1977 Oakland incident is quite incredible even today. But 1977 was a tragic year for Zeppelin and probably the beginning of the end. Cocaine, booze and worst of all Heroin had crept in. Jimmy became weird, Robert lost his son, Bonzo just wanted to go home.

As if things were not bad enough, other famous characters pop up like Keith Moon and Iggy Pop and with road manager Richard Coles recollections, events take on an almost comical nature, with TVs and pianos flying through the air. Press people assinged to cover the '77 Tour were instructed not to even look at John Bonham or Richard Cole. Paranoia set in, phones were not answered. Swan Song became a mess.

You know whats coming, but Hoskyns delivers the news as if September 25th happened last week. Just before he died, Bonham and Jimmy Page planned a hard rock album for 1981 to counter In Through The Outdoor. An album and an new era we can only speculate about.

With all the hedonism, tragedy and 70's excess, Hoskyns book reaffirms that the final winners are still Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones and the music they made between 1968 and 1980.

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By GFR1 on November 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow, I haven't had this much fun reading an oral history since 'A Drink With Shane McGowen.' The format of interspersing interviews with a wide variety of players from the Zeppelin saga makes for a diverse, sometimes contradictory, but ultimately illuminating look behind the scenes. I was surprised at how emotionally compelling the book is - when I approached the end the line for the band (and even if you don't know the story, you feel it coming in the building dread of some of the interviews), the beautiful, world-weary playing and singing of "Ten Years Gone" kept running through my head. These guys set themselves on fire for the better part of a decade, and the price they paid was steep. But we get to reap the benefits of music that still sounds fresh and ambitious after so much music of the era has become smaller and more cautious with age.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William Lawson on October 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed the way this book unfolded. In depth interviews from the people who were closest to the scene give the reader a real insight into the friendships and rivalries that permeated the pre-Zeppelin, Yardbirds era. However, as the book unfolded chronologically, I found myself liking the individual band members less and less. I knew that these guys were rock gods, but holy crap, this band and their management team was a hell-raising crusade that crushed everything in its path, at home and abroad! It seems that John Paul Jones may have been the only member of Zeppelin that was able to retain his character and composure during two decades of absolute debauchery, epic creativity, physical violence and tragic loss. I can't imagine that the remaining three band members are very happy with Mr. Hoskyns sordid rendering. This book tells the no-holds barred, ground truth behind the ultimate bad-boys of rock and roll. It's all here; groupies dripping with butter, mountains of pure cocaine, random head-bashing, endless touring, crippling inter-personal conflict and the flawed genius that was Led Zeppelin.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lovecraft on November 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not a literary critic or book snob so my review is based solely on my bizarre fascination with Jimmy Page. It is a given that I have been a Led Zeppelin fan since I was 14 years old back in the early eighties. I received this book in the mail yesterday and was up until 3am reading it and am half way through it. I love it- I find the format highly refreshing- it is a series of blocked, chronological direct quotes in paragraph form from the band and all those around them from the pre-days, onward. I was not looking for the typical bio-type book or a formal musical history of the band- I was looking for that more elusive glimpse into what people were doing, thinking, saying, during various times of Zep's "life". I so far, am mesmerized by all the different view points and little tidbits of knowledge I am gleaning. I can't wait to read more this evening! I can only speak to my experience, and so far, I feel completely satisfied (and a touch introspective) from this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By rocky49152 on May 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Led Zeppelin - The Oral History of the World's Greatest Rock Band, is not a standard biography or autobiography, but a collection of snippets of interviews of the band and those around them. At first learning this, my expectations were somewhat lowered, but if you give it a chance, the author does a good job of tying together these interviews into a cohesive whole.

The book not only covers the bands rise and halcyon days, but also the aftermath (Robert Plant's solo career, Jimmy Page's struggles, John Paul Jones's activities to an extent).

Strengths -
In particular, the enigmatic character who is Jimmy Page is somewhat brought to light. I still think there is a lot more to find out about this strange, great musician.

Of course there is ample time given to the struggles of John Bonham and Peter Grant, who both spent a significant part of their later lives living insanely and completely addicted to their vices. It's not possible to talk about Zeppelin's rise and fall without these accounts.

I also thought the background of the early pre-Zeppelin history of Page and Plant was interesting and helped define who these two people are, particularly with regard to Robert Plant's strong Black Country roots and Page's background doing session work.

Also, some time is given to other areas that may not be covered in every Zeppelin Bio -

The doomed Swan Song label.
The Page Coverdale album.
Jimmy Page's fascination with Aleister Crowley
Plant's post Zeppelin career
The troubled creation of "In Through the Out Door"
The reunion at O2

Weaknesses -
In the great Zeppelin tradition, we still don't learn a whole lot about John Paul Jones, who I've always thought was extraordinarily underrated.
Read more ›
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