December 8, 1980

I wrote this back in May but since it’s December 8th I thought I would repost it…I can’t believe it’s been 38 years ago… Seeing that date depresses me…this was not the way to start the decade that was my teens.

Since second grade, I’d been listening to the Beatles. While a lot of kids I knew listened and talked about modern music …I just couldn’t relate as much. By the time I was ten I had read every book about The Beatles I could get my hands on. In a small middle TN town…it wasn’t too many. I was after their generation but I knew the importance of what they did…plus just great music. The more I got into them the more I learned about the Who, Stones, and the Kinks. I wanted to get my hands on every book about the music of the 1960s. Just listening to the music wasn’t enough…I wanted to know the history.

I spent that Monday night playing albums in my room. Monday night I didn’t turn the radio on…I’m glad I didn’t…The next morning I got up to go to school and the CBS morning news was on. The sound was turned down but the news was showing Beatle video clips. I was wondering why they were showing them but didn’t think much of it.

Curious, I walked over to the television and turned it up and found out that John Lennon had been shot and killed. I was very angry and shocked. The bus ride to school was quiet, at school, it was quiet as well. Some teachers were affected because John was their generation. Some of my friends were shocked but some really didn’t get the significance at the time and some didn’t care. A few but not many kids acted almost gleeful which pissed me off…It was obvious their parents were talking through them.

I went out and bought the White Album, Abbey Road and Double Fantasy in late December of 1980…I can’t believe I didn’t have the two Beatle albums already…now whenever I hear any song from those albums they remind me of the winter of 80-81. I remember the call-in shows on the radio then…pre-internet… people calling to share their feelings for John or hatred for the killer.

The next few weeks I saw footage of the Beatles on specials that I had never seen before. Famous and non-famous people pouring their heart out over the grief. Planned tributes from bands and everyone asking the same question…why?

My young mind could not process why a person would want to do this to a musician. A politician yea…I could see that…not that it’s right but this? A musician? Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, and JFK were before my time.  By the mid-1970s John had pretty much dropped out of sight…John and Yoko released Double Fantasy on November 17, 1980, and suddenly they were everywhere…Less than a month later John was murdered. The catchwords were Catcher in the Rye, Hawaii, handgun and insane. The next day we were duly informed on who killed John in the First, Middle, and Last name format they assign to murderers.

I didn’t want to know his name, his career, his wife’s name, his childhood…I just wanted to know why… he says now…”attention”

I noticed a change happened after that Monday night. John Lennon was instantly turned into a saint, something he would have said was preposterous. Paul suddenly became the square and the uncool one and George and Ringo turned into just mere sidemen. Death has a way of elevating you in life. After the Anthology came out in the 90s that started to change back a little.

I called my dad a few days after it happened and he said that people were more concerned that The Beatles would never play again than the fact a man, father, and husband was shot and killed. He was right and I was among those people until he said that. Dad was never a fan but he made his point.

Led Zeppelin’s Ascent and Descent

Led Zeppelin ruled the hard rock landscape of the 1970s. Critics didn’t like them and they didn’t like the press. They sold tons of records and their concerts were instant sellouts. They spawned a lot of bad imitators in their wake. By 1975 things started to go wrong for the band and soon by the start of the new decade they were done.

Led Zeppelin formed in 1968 while Jimmy Page was still with the Yardbirds but with only bass player Chris Dreja and he still left in the group. To fill other gig obligations Page formed the New Yardbirds with Robert Plant and his recommendation for drummer John Bonham. Chris Dreja dropped out so studio bassist John Paul Jones filled the bass position.

After a change of name, they were off and running. They made their first self-titled album and signed a huge deal with Atlantic Records. The album had bad reviews but sold very well. The band made their reputation off of live performances.

Their manager at this point was Peter Grant and with him made their mark on the industry. Peter made sure his band made money and no one would stand in the way. He told promoters the band was to get 90 percent of the gate…which was unheard of at the time. The promoters gave in because they would rather have ten percent of that than 100 percent of nothing.

The musicians were great. Robert Plant could sing and wail like no other. John Bonham was a groove extraordinaire who had his own style. John Paul Jones was a great underrated bass and keyboard player. Jimmy Page was one of the best studio guitarists there was at the time. Similar to The Who…it was like a Rock All-Star lineup.

Zeppelin’s first three albums were building up to the fourth. You can see it build with the first and second album’s electric hard edge to the third where the acoustic is introduced more and a more folk side is shown. It all peaked with the classic 1971 Led Zeppelin IV with the perfect combination of the two.

Songs that came off that album are classics like Stairway to Heaven, Black Dog, Four Sticks, Rock and Roll, Going to California, When the Levee Breaks, The Battle of Evermore, and my favorite Misty Mountain Hop. This album and the Who’s Who’s Next came out within months of each other and both of these albums are the foundation of classic rock radio.

More great albums were to follow like Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti though none would match the fourth album. After Physical Graffiti things started to go south for Zeppelin.

Their reputation kept growing and it was not all about their music. Wild stories about groupies, Peter Grant stopping at nothing if he perceived an injustice toward his band and there was the Jimmy Page strong occult interest that followed the band like a dark cloud. John Bonham was described as a nice family man until he started to drink. When drunk he would turn into “The Beast” (as bandmates called him) and could terrorize anyone near the band. They did a series of concerts in 1975 at Earl’s Court and after that The Zeppelin started to descend.

In 1975 Robert Plant and his wife were in a serious car wreck and it would take Plant a few months to recuperate and soon the band would record the album Presence with Plant still not able to walk without assistance. The band would not tour in 1976 because of Plants injuries but started an American tour beginning in April 1977.

When Zeppelin started in 1968 critics didn’t like them and Zeppelin didn’t trust the press. Critics thought their first two albums were the work of blues-ripoff artists. Led Zeppelin never forgot that. This was one set of rules in 1977 shared with the press covering the band.

1. Never talk to anyone in the band unless they first talk to you.
1a. Do not make any sort of eye contact with John Bonham. This is for your own safety.
2. Do not talk to Peter Grant or [Tour Manager] Richard Cole — for any reason.
3. Keep your cassette player turned off at all times unless conducting an interview.
4. Never ask questions about anything other than music.
5. Most importantly, understand this — the band will read what is written about them.

The tour was beset with problems with rowdy crowds, Pages increasing heroin intake, and Bonham’s drinking. Peter Grant had hired a British gangster named John Bindon to handle security. Zeppelin’s security crew and John Bonham attacked one of promoter’s Bill Graham’s staff after Grants 11-year-old son was pushed down… After that incident in Oakland, they flew to New Orleans for the next show and Plant received a phone call from back home informing him that his five-year-old son Karac died from a stomach infection. The entire tour was immediately canceled as Plant flew home to be with his family. The last Oakland concert was the last time they played in America.

In 1979 they would get back together and release “In Through the Out Door“, a softer more synthesizer-based album. Plant and Jones did the majority of the writing on the album. Zeppelin did two great shows at Knebworth in 1979 and a short European tour in 1980. While rehearsing for the American tour John Bonham died of asphyxiation in his sleep after a night of heavy drinking in Page’s home on September 25, 1980. Unlike the Who, who continued on without their one of a kind drummer, Led Zeppelin was no more.

The band regrouped three times for one-off concerts. Once in 1985 for Live Aid with two drummers (Phil Collins and Tony Thompson )and in 1988 for the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary with Jason Bonham on drums. Neither of those turned out too well.
They did regroup in 2007 for a  concert with Jason Bonham drumming. This time they sounded comparable to their younger days and their fans clamored for a reunion and tour…Plant all but ruled that out.

I like most of their albums and consider them one of the biggest rock bands ever…They have made some of the best albums in Rock history. I just never got into them like The Who, Beatles, Stones, Cream, and Kinks. The more I learn about them the more distant they get. Their mystique and image became larger than their music at times.

I’m going to attempt to rank 10 of Led Zeppelin’s albums coming up this week.

Led Zeppelin 02.jpg

 

Delbert McClinton – Giving It Up for Your Love

I remember hearing this song for the first time on the way to a baseball game that I was set to pitch. It was the best game I ever pitched. The song was released in 1980 on Delbert’s album “The Jealous Kind.” Giving It Up for Your Love peaked at #8 on the Billboard 100.

Delbert has performed for years but this is his only Billboard top forty hit. He did reach #5 in the Country charts with Tanya Tucker with the song “Tell Me About It.” McClinton also won a Grammy in 1992 on a duet with Bonnie Raitt with a song called “Good Man, Good Woman.”

Some trivia about Delbert… he played the harmonica on Bruce Channel’s hit “Hey Baby.” Bruce Channel with Delbert had the Beatles supporting them during a few shows during the Love Me Do era. There was a rumor that Delbert gave John harmonica lessons…Delbert has said that John already knew how to play…he just gave him a few tips.

McClinton

“These things are getting romanticized by everyone,” he says. “They [The Beatles] were just another group of guys. They hadn’t yet changed the world. [But] we were all going to change the world, every one of us. And there was no doubt about it.”

“Givin’ It Up For Your Love”

Givin’ it up for your love – everything
Givin’ it up for your love right now
Givin’ it up for your love – I said everything
Givin’ it up for your love right now, right now My heart is aching for you, I can’t stand it
I need your lovin’, am I so demanding? I’m givin’ it up for your love – everything
I’m givin’ it up for your love right now
I’m givin’ it up for your love – everything
I’m givin’ it up for your love right nowWell, I thought about it
You know I’m not playing
You better listen to me
Every word I been saying Hot is cold and cold is hot
I’m a little mixed up
But I’ll give it everything I’ve got Don’t want your money, baby, don’t need your car
I’m doing all right, doing all right so farI’m givin’ it up for your love – everything
I’m givin’ it up for your love right now
Givin’ it up for your love – everything
Givin’ it up for your love somehow

I know you told me
That you’d always love me
And I believed it was true
So I saved the best and I’m ready
My love only just for you

Come back here, come back real quick
My heart is aching and my body is feeling weak
I’ll be all right, yes, I’ll be OK
Come on now baby, listen to what I say

Don’t want your money, baby, don’t need your car
Been doing all right, doing all right so far

I’m givin’ it up for your love – everything
I’m givin’ it up for your love right now
I’m givin’ it up for your love – everything
I’m givin’ it up for your love somehow

I’m givin’ it up for your love – I said everything
I’m givin’ it up for your love right now
I’m givin’ it up for your love – everything
I’m givin’ it up for your love somehow