The day the music died

We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.
--Led Zeppelin--
He was regarded by many as the greatest rock drummer of all time, but he never lived to see the day when his name would be etched side by side those of rock's greatest musicians.

The day was September 25, 1980. The news travelled fast: John Bonham's dead! The powerhouse that drove the Led Zeppelin sound is gone... forever.

What happened? How can he just go like that? It was a day no hardcore Led Zeppelin fan will ever forget.

Born on May 31, 1948, John Henry Bonham at the early age of ten was already serious about drumming. A childhood friend of Robert Plant, John Bonham was the drummer of a group called Band of Joy, where he'd put his drum set in front of the stage so he would get as much attention as Robert.

After refusing to play with Joe Cocker and Chris Farlow, John Bonham joined Led Zeppelin.

Just before his death in early 1980, John Bonham fell off his stool while performing with Led Zeppelin on stage. This was already an indication of the extent of his substance abuse.

On that fateful day, John Bonham, at Jimmy Page's home, downed an uncountable amount of vodka. John, who during that time had also been taking a drug to curb heroin addiction, was laid down to sleep face up instead of down. This caused him to choke on his own vomit and die.

John Bonham was a sight to behold performing live, as he would yell as loud as he could while beating the drums to give it that extra edge.

Robert Plant said that what made John Bonham such a great drummer was that he "didn't not overplay." It was what he kept back that made him so good.

Back in the 80s the question echoed: Who could replace John Bonham?

There was only silence...

Every Led Zeppelin fan knew that John Bonham was one of a kind.

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Led Zep tour barren without Plant

Reports say that Led Zeppelin is planning a tour in 2009 and even releasing a new album. However, Robert Plant who seems to have other things in mind has so far been the holdout regarding these ideas.

No doubt, Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest bands that ever rocked the world. But what makes them special?

Is it John Bonham's thunderous drum patterns? Robert Plant's primeval wail? John Paul Jones' bass playing and beautiful keyboard melodies? Or Jimmy Page's great guitar riffs?

While individually they are great musicians, it is their unique chemistry together that sets Led Zeppelin apart. If you listen to each of their solo efforts, you'd notice rightaway that none of them could equal the greatness and intensity of all four of them playing together as a band.

Rumor has it that having found a new singer, the group (Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham) is reportedly planning to go on tour with or without Robert Plant.

Will the band still be Led Zeppelin? Will it's essence as a band still be the same? How do you think would fans react to that? This will certainly change the band's chemistry.

With Jason taking over his father's place as drummer, the chemistry's intact, since Jason's got most of it.

But without Robert, things will be completely different. What will become of Led Zeppelin? Only time will tell.

Photo credit The_Magician

Heavier headstock for better sustain

There are several things you can do to increase your electric guitar's sustain. You can add distortion, compressor, add or increase feedback, or even mess with your equalizer. However, there's a more natural way of doing it, and that is by adding weight to your headstock.

Many claim this is a myth, probably because they haven't tried it. Well I have, and known firsthand that it works.

So, why and how does it work? When you play your electric or acoustic guitar, your strings vibrate, making the body and neck resonate as well. The lesser the density or mass of the material, the greater the tendency for it to vibrate.

The vibrations coming from the body and neck of your electric guitar, and those coming from the strings tend to cancel each other out. (Your physics teacher can explain this better.)

The "noisier" your guitar's body and neck are, the less sustain you will get from your strings. If you don't believe me, why don't you do the same thing I did -- experiment!

My first experiment though was nothing short of barbaric. When I first heard about this theory I quickly looked around for something that would instantly add mass to my headstock. The first thing I found was a vise grip!

It was a heavy tool, and the sustain I got from my guitar was awesome. It was like my electric guitar could scream forever.

Wait! I'm not telling you to use vise grip.

You can experiment with a couple of replacement tuner buttons: one lighter and the other heavier than the one that's currently installed on your electric guitar. Which set of tuner buttons do you think will help you achieve the best sustain? Let your ears decide.

Alternatively, you can use lead tape. The kind that golf and tennis players use to alter the swing weight of their equipment. Just stick the lead tape on and evenly around the sides of the headstock. Now, play your guitar and hear the difference.

There's actually a product called "Fat Head," which is a sheet of bell brass that wraps neatly around your guitar's headstock. I was unable to find this product online -- I'll keep on trying though. However, your local custom guitar shop might be willing to manufacture and install a similar accessory for you.

There are a couple of things that you'll immediately notice after adding mass to your headstock:

  • You get a crisper, clearer tone from your guitar; and
  • a killer sustain.
Try it. It really works.

Photo credit: sofus99

Raised sand weighs Plant down

Zepmen Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham (son of deceased drummer John Bonham) are working together on new tracks intended for a new Led Zeppelin album. However, the band's lead singer Robert Plant is not in this picture.

Where is he?

This was the man who welded blues and metal together into intricate rock masterpieces. Robert Plant was and still is an explorer, and loves the challenge of conquering new musical territories.

When I was a kid it was all I could have wished for to be involved in something that was so ground breaking and different. -- Robert Plant
Now, Robert is onto something new -- something totally unrelated to Led Zeppelin.

With his successful collaboration with American singer and violin virtuoso Alison Krauss, it seems Robert Plant is ready to become, if he isn't already, a country bluegrass star himself.

Robert plant was further quoted saying:
When I met Alison and we started opening up our capacities, she taught me so many things which were coming from such a different angle it was great to be able to learn. I'm up for it you know.

The question remains: Will Led Zeppelin be making a new album?

Jimmy Page has hinted that nothing will happen until Robert Plant has finished touring and working with Alison Krauss on the Raising Sand project.

Photo credits:

  1. cttv
  2. 8wilson

Airship of lead takes off

Right from the start, Led Zeppelin already had a well defined and unique sound. It was centered mostly around heavy, distorted electric blues taken to an extreme.

However, their sound can't be described as raw. Despite Led Zeppelin's heavy, powerful sound, the key to the band's attack was subtlety.

The group utilized an array of tempo, shades and texture that resulted in such multi-layered music even from the very beginning of their career.

After the Yardbirds broke up in 1968, Jimmy Page set out to find replacements for the missing band members as he still had certain obligations to fulfill.

John Paul Jones, who was an amazing bass player, got in contact with Jimmy first. Jimmy got a tip about a singer from Birmingham who sang for a band called Hobbstweedle, and in August 1968, Robert Plant accepted Jimmy's offer and joined the band.

However, the band still needed one more member -- a drummer. Upon Robert Plant's recommendation, John Bonham, Robert's childhood friend, became their new drummer.

The band intially called themselves The New Yard Birds and finished the Yardbirds concert schedule.

Later on, the band's name changed to Led Zeppelin, after Keith Moon of The Who made a jest saying that the band would go over "like a lead zeppelin."

The band signed a contract with Atlantic Records and released their first album "Led Zeppelin," in February 1969. The album was recorded within 30 hours, and in just a couple of months reached Billboard’s Top Ten.

Led Zeppelin's debut album went on to gross more than £3.5 million, just short of 20,000 times more than their reputed initial investment of £1,782.

Photo credits:

  1. dom80_2008
  2. volobuev

Bron yr Aur revisited: A rock pilgrimage

... was the first time I really came to know Robert. Actually living together at Bron-Yr-Aur, as opposed to occupying nearby hotel rooms. The songs took us into areas that changed the band, and it established a standard of travelling for inspiration... which is the best thing a musician can do. -- Jimmy Page
Bron yr Aur is a quaint cottage in South Snowdonia, Wales. It was here where Led Zeppelin retreated to write songs for "Led Zeppelin III." Bron yr Aur means literally "golden breast" or "breast of gold" in Welsh, but a more appropriate translation would be "hillside of gold."

In 1994, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant returned to Bron yr Aur for their reunion called "No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant unledded."

Bron yr Aur is the "mystical" cottage where Led Zeppelin composed timeless songs, though the cottage had neither running water nor electricity. Those with the band at that time included Robert Plant's wife Maureen and their 18-month-old daughter Carmen, Jimmy Page's girlfriend Charlotte Martin as well as Led Zeppelin roadies Clive Coulson and Sandy MacGregor.

Among the songs written by the band at Bron Yr Aur in 1970 were "Over the Hills and Far Away," "The Crunge," "The Rover," "Bron-Yr-Aur," "Down By The Seaside" and "Poor Tom."

During Page and Plant's Unledded reunion in 94, Robert told the audience that Jimmy's daughter, Scarlet, was conceived "about half an hour" after "That's The Way" was written at Bron-Yr-Aur.

Photo credits:
  1. 8wilson
  2. monkeyiron
  3. zenmasterzoso
  4. jeannie202000

The Song Remains the Same

Obviously we were committed to putting this album out, although it wasn't necessarily the best live stuff we have. I don't look upon it as a live album... it's essentially a soundtrack.

As far as (Led Zeppelin's) studio recordings went, every single one of them has a certain ambiance, certain atmospherics that made them special. When it came to the live shows, we were always trying to move things forward and we certainly weren't happy leaving them as they were. The songs were always in a state of change. On Song Remains the Same you can hear the urgency and not much else. The live shows were an extension of the albums.
These were the words of no less than Led Zeppelin guitar god Jimmy Page.

Dismissed by the band members themselves as a disappointment on its first release, Led Zeppelin's soundtrack album The Song Remains the Same is one of those 70s records that has aged well and survived its reputation -- becoming more valuable with the passage of time.

Released on September 28, 1976, the album's sleeve design shows a dilapidated movie house at Old Street film studios in London, which Led Zeppelin used for rehearsals before the band went into tour in 1973.

During this time, the band has matured. Satisfied with their status as rock overlords, they have settled and no longer sounded hungry. However, the sheer scale of their sound remained.

This was a time when Led Zeppelin's only concern was pleasing themselves, and they did so only because they could. Imitators tried to do the same, but nobody could capture that big monstrous sound that only Led Zeppelin can.

Photo credit: pauluk61

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