cover image Led Zeppelin: The Biography

Led Zeppelin: The Biography

Bob Spitz. Penguin Press, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-56242-6

Music biographer Spitz (The Beatles) 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, detailing how the British electric blues boom of the late ’60s “laid the groundwork for a musical upheaval” and how guitarist Jimmy Page used the form—and the power of vocalist Robert Plant and bassist John Paul Jones—“as a springboard to something bigger and more dynamic.” He gives new insights into each of Zeppelin’s eight main recordings, as well as their dynamic live performances, which, he writes, were “comparable with how jazz combos performed, with loose arrangements that depended on synchronicity and intuition.” At the same time, he takes an unsparing look at how the band’s massive success snowballed into a “heedless hedonism” that led to their decline and disbanding after the alcohol-fueled death of drummer John Bonham. For all the excess and cruelty Spitz recounts, his passion for the band’s musical genius will captivate rock enthusiasts. Agent: Sloan Harris, ICM. (Nov.)