Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Hammer Of The Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga by Stephen Davis (1985)


Review Notorious for being the book that neither Robert Plant or Jimmy Page have read, let alone endorsed, most of the ‘sordid’ tales don’t seem that shocking, in light of the standard behaviour now required of modern rock stars.

What does come across very strongly, though, is the general madness that the lifestyle created for the band, which then trapped them, and which made some of the excesses inevitable: the impossible stress of touring and the constantly building pressures to deliver better and better material, without the protective corporate shield of modern management, and above all a deep rooting in the kind of hard blues where sex and drugs and alcohol were standard routes to creativity – no wonder they went off the rails by the end.

Yes, they were selfish and indulgent, and no, Jimmy Page probably shouldn’t have dumped little Lori Maddox like that, but they created a timeless and genuinely thrilling sound. And a myth that fans lap up as much as the music. This book walks through the whole lot, with plenty of gossip, much of which is sourced from Richard Cole and probably true-ish, and it does give you the story behind ‘Royal Orleans’ on Presence, which you wouldn’t ever work out from Plant’s garbled lyrics. Most of all, it makes you realise that when all this madness was going on, they were in their early twenties – and also that it was a very, very different world.

Fans who still long for a note-faithful reunion probably won’t after reading this: it couldn’t ever be the same.

Review The image of Led Zeppelin was carefully crafted by their larger than life manager Peter Grant and overseer Jimmy Page. Not everything you hear about them is true so read this and beware. But do read it.

This book gives you insight into their lives and characters and how what began in innocence spiralled into something even they could not control. The band became far bigger than any of them or their scary manager and those people who surrounded them did not always have their best interests at heart. Zeppelin was powerful, magical, mystical and sometimes frightening. The 4 of them were all multi talented in their own way and the combination awe inspiring. I don’t think any other band has reached as many people as they did. But this too has to be taken with caution because although millions did hear, it is not sure whether they actually listened or understood.

This book is far better than the one written by Richard Cole their Road Manager, do not waste your money on that one unless you are a diehard fan and just want to see what he says. What this book does not really do though, is capture any of the magic of their music or their immense stage presence. I feel priviledged to have seen them many times.

It is a great title, perfect really. Throughout their existence and even when Page and Plant re-united you had a feeling that this was Destiny.

Such great days, get the video of The Song Remains the Same and relive them, or better still buy the remixed albums.

Don’t ask too many questions – it is better not to know.

Review This is widely regarded as the best book about Zeppelin though there have been comparatively few others and the band themselves have never gone into print to set the record straight.

When it was published Page and Plant were reportedly annoyed because of some factual inaccuracies and because Davis’s accounts of the band’s wilder exploits were largely based on conversations with Richard Cole, their roughneck tour manager (who went on to write an even more lurid account entitled “Stairway to Heaven”). As a fan of the band I think Davis is quite good on their music and the sheer impact of the band, especially in the US.

The book is well structured too, each chapter devoted to Zep’s albums and successive tours. Leaving aside whether or not Cole embellished some of his stories about Zep’s behaviour on tour (which he seemed to instigate most of the time) it is now a matter of record that Peter Grant, their quasi gangster manager, presided over a fearsome operation that involved every rock in roll cliche: groupie gang bangs, business conducted through intimidation and violence, heavy usage of hard drugs and flirtation with cod philosophies and mysticism (in Page’s case, Satanism).

For Plant and Page to claim in later years that they were all misrepresented a bit (as if they drank lemon tea and went to bed early every night after the show was over) is partly what makes the book such an entertaining and plausible read.

April 30, 2013 - Posted by | Book Hammer Of The Gods The Led Zeppelin Saga by Stephen Davis | , ,

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