The whole story, the glory and the mayhem, the train wreck and the true bliss ... [A] sprawling account ... The good, the bad and the ugly coexist in the Led Zeppelin story, and Spitz knows well enough to report and tell it all ... Spitz...gives nobody a pass. Hovering above all the parties and all the jams and the richly detailed accounts of creating each album is an abundance of abominable behavior that only grew worse as Zeppelin’s fame exploded ... This is one group portrait that doesn’t flatter.
It was with the spirit of that much younger self that I looked forward to Led Zeppelin: The Biography by noted music biographer Bob Spitz ... What resulted — through no fault of Spitz’s, who does an exacting job on both the broad narrative and fine details — is one my saddest reading experiences in recent memory. The story of Led Zeppelin is not just one of a legendary rock band, but one of a colossal waste of talent ... Spitz covers it all ... In Spitz’s telling, for much of their time together, even Led Zeppelin could not be Led Zeppelin ... While the story is laced with tragedy — the death of Plant’s son, Bonham’s death — I can’t say the book reads like a cautionary tale ... No, it’s more like the story of a relic that you once treasured, but may now find hard to separate from the destruction that surrounded it. The music of Led Zeppelin is worth still celebrating, but the culture surrounding it damaged many, including on the band itself.
... a 600-page tome that collects every (reliable) story previously reported, and is bolstered by original reporting and interviews—all delivered in brisk and straightforward prose. But readers be warned: Spitz doesn’t hold back in describing the band’s antics, its displays of ego and cruelty that today’s audiences might find less than acceptable ... The book is peppered with musical references that Spitz describes as evocatively as mere writing can describe music, and cultural references...that may cause some readers to fall into a rabbit hole of music minutia. It may cause others to give up ... Spitz is admirably unsparing, without being egregiously harsh, in his assessments of the attempts by White British musicians to approximate the sounds coming from imported, eagerly collected records by legends such as Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters ... the stories Spitz unearths and reiterates about what Led Zeppelin and their entourage got away with are, even to readers jaded to bad celebrity behavior, appalling ... Spitz’s handling of all this is patchy. At times, he denounces. At times he equivocates. At times, he slyly hints at judgment at the band’s various inanities and unsavory behavior ... Spitz manages to tell a compelling story (despite a few factual errors in my edition). The music criticism is often insightful and evocative ... Fans and naysayers alike will be disappointed that in Spitz’s telling nothing any of the men did after Led Zeppelin broke up seems to warrant much discussion. As a compendium of the often brilliant music created by ravaged souls, the book works well enough, but at this point both Led Zeppelin’s fans (and critics) yearn for more.
Revelatory ... Exhaustively researched ... The author smartly builds his narrative around Page, a wunderkind London session guitarist who reinvented himself as a blues-rock star in the legendary Yardbirds ... Led Zeppelin is an excellent book. Spitz tells his story masterfully. He seems not to have scored fresh interviews with surviving band members, but he tapped dozens of friends, roadies, fellow musicians, and groupies and amassed a busload of archival clips ... Still, many of his revelations sadden the soul ... Led Zeppelin is a compelling work, but one that may dim the Led Zeppelin legend. Gauzy Rolling Stone retrospectives and nostalgia-hued books and films would have us remember the arena-rock era as a pot-scented Eden, an unending singalong on a boozy tour bus. Bob Spitz gives us the facts, and they tell a darker story.
Bob Spitz's book about the seminal heavy-but-hard-to-pigeonhole British rock band looks long and deep into the group's decadent and often indefensible acts, most committed while on their legendary American tours ... Spitz keeps Led Zeppelin: The Biography from being a complete tale of debauchery by also reminding readers why anyone might care about the quartet’s exploits: the music they created ... Spitz writes intriguingly about how the band made magic through moves both purposeful and coincidental ... Spitz makes a convincing case that Led Zeppelin was ultimately guitarist Jimmy Page's band, even as he details how the group shone brightest when all four members contributed ideas and embraced an ethos of creation through improvisation. Still, it seems odd that over 100 pages in, only Page's childhood, musical development and early career are covered ... What gets lost in the ensuing tale is the humanity of the band members and other important players like their manager, Peter Grant. The tales of excess grow wearying ... Spitz has assembled a thorough and detailed history of Zeppelin, and his interviews with the band's employees and contemporaries give the tale veracity. Similarly, the use of concert reviews and recordings, as well as vintage band interviews, leads to thoughtful consideration of the group's work. But the lack of new interviews with the three surviving band members is hard to overcome ... For the hardcore Led Zeppelin fan, there may be enough new stories about the music to warrant reading this 575-page tome. Most people would be better served to dive back into the band's eclectic, inventive, big-sounding albums to perhaps enjoy the art made by these troubled, sometimes villainous, artists.
Although Spitz can spin a good yarn and keep readers engaged, this book is far too long: it spends inordinate amounts of time on many long-forgotten musicians and chronicling the minutiae of practically every week of the band’s whirlwind decade, and Spitz appears to revel in debauchery and excess for their own sake ... For Led Zeppelin completists only.
Spitz 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. To start, Spitz provides a fascinating look at each band member’s evolution and their common love of American blues ... He gives new insights ... For all the excess and cruelty Spitz recounts, his passion for the band’s musical genius will captivate rock enthusiasts.
The author is skillful at conjuring scenes from the past and doing his best to get inside the heads of people he hasn’t met ... He also has a flair for interweaving quotes given to other writers into his narrative, as if the speaker were talking directly to him ... His passion for the music is clear. However, the long slog of the narrative ultimately proves as exhausting as it is exhaustive ... It all becomes too much. Rather than emphasizing the sleazy aspects of the band’s history, he treats them as matters of fact, yet readers know that none of it would end well. Little of the information in this book is new, and Spitz’s dedicated research fails to provide much fresh illumination of well-tread ground. Of course, Zeppelin die-hards (of which there are millions worldwide) will be interested ... The song remains the same, making this one for the fans.