“How did you get into Led Zeppelin?”
I was recently asked this question by my hubs, Kevin (Buried On Mars), whilst listening to some Led Zeppelin a couple of weeks ago.
My history with Led Zeppelin arrived thanks to a passive gambling spirit, and a bit of classic rock radio. Led Zeppelin have been there, time stamped into my life from September 1990 to now.
My close friend, Jenny B, and I used to scour the record stores in downtown Sudbury, Ontario practically every weekend. We were blessed with three – Records on Wheels, Off the Record, and A & A Records. My first discovery of Led Zeppelin had to have been flipping through the cassettes at one of these places. Being a massive New Order fan, I’d have to flip past “L” to get to “N”. The one album that had always caught my eye up to this point was the fourth Led Zeppelin album. I was intrigued by that imagery of urban decay and random picture left hanging on a wall. “Led Zeppelin” – hm. I knew nothing about them, and couldn’t take a chance on them as cassettes were expensive (this one was $18.99!). But, my aunt wanted to buy me a gift for getting my driver’s license, so I asked for Led Zeppelin. Talk about gambling on something – I had heard Stairway to Heaven many a time, and really liked When the Levee Breaks, but didn’t know any others. The album turned out a winner! How I made the segue from synth to Zep…I cannot say, but something spoke to me in the fourth Led Zeppelin album. It was an interesting mix of raw acoustic folk with deep blues guitar and drums. I couldn’t pin them down, and didn’t want to.
During this time frame the famous orange Led Zeppelin box set was released in stores, and I thought it was the coolest looking cover I had ever seen! I HAD TO HAVE IT. What better way to immerse yourself in the catalog of a band you are getting to know than by listening to a box set? Christmas was coming, and I was willing to forego all gifts for this precious. But, it was around $80! I didn’t bother asking for it from my mom. No, I pivoted instead to ask the one person who was still young enough to remember classic rock from the 70s: I asked George, my now step-father. He hemmed a little on the price, but the big softie relented and yes, I got my box set!
Observe the Majesty! Mine is still in good shape after all these years!
This set was instrumental for me, and it basically lived in my book bag going forward another two years until I moved out to attend university. I was so excited to get it, and even memorialized the event in my diary:
From the mind of a 16 year old girl…February 2, 1991: “For Christmas I got the Led Zeppelin box set. It’s pretty cool. Jimmy Page was a babe back in the 70s. Man, you should see him now. He has aged! Greys and wrinkles!”
One thing is for sure, no one appreciated my new listening taste, and – hoo boy – I was getting it from all sides. My mom couldn’t stand “the noise”; my aunt, who bought me Led Zep IV, and with whom I’d go out for dinner every week didn’t want me playing it in her car. Finally, none of my girlfriends cared much for Led Zeppelin, so I’d hang with my guy friends who appreciated the band the most. I was pegged the girl who liked dude music. So it goes.
Thanks to the box set, my appetite for Zep just grew and grew. My discography grew to include the third, and fifth albums. There was no Wikipedia, so I had to “read it from a book;” I amassed a library of Led Zeppelin books. My bedroom walls were adorned an eclectic mix of Depeche Mode, New Order and Led Zeppelin. I had Led Zeppelin pins, a t-shirt of Houses of the Holy (which no one wanted me to wear because bums), Zeppelin post cards…I was hyperfocused on Led Zeppelin, and I couldn’t get enough.
This is me in my room in 1991, holding the best neighbour’s cat ever, Oliver (RIP).
Excuse the obvious Diet Coke addiction (at right- also RIP). I also had a love for Jose Cuervo Especial ads.
On my 17th birthday, my sister and a good friend took it upon themselves to bake me a Zeppelin cake (chocolate with white frosting), and it was a really good time. My sis also bought me Led Zeppelin Complete, a book of piano scores; I was taking piano lessons and wanted to learn to play the Rain Song on piano. Yes, I was fanatical – big time.
Duncan Hines…my favourite!
Take note my New Order Technique t-shirt (went missing at the end of summer 1991)
…Or should I say, I am still fanatical about Led Zeppelin. As much as my musical tastes have evolved to include other greats, Led Zeppelin is still one of those bands I consider a staple in my music collection.
So where do we go from here? Well, Kevin has presented a joint challenge – let’s listen and review each Led Zeppelin album. It’s been a while since I’ve taken keyboard to blog to write about music (years, in fact), but this band has always been a subject I wanted to write about since they were so instrumental to my formative years in music. The challenge is weekly, so we’ll be seeing you next week. First up, Led Zeppelin’s first album.
Thanks for reading!