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  • Led Zeppelin

  • The Biography
  • By: Bob Spitz
  • Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
  • Length: 21 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (58 ratings)

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Led Zeppelin

By: Bob Spitz
Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
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Summary

From the author of the definitive New York Times best-selling history of the Beatles comes the authoritative account of the group many call the greatest rock band of all time, arguably the most successful, and certainly one of the most notorious.

Rock star. Whatever that term means to you, chances are it owes a debt to Led Zeppelin. No one before or since has lived the dream quite like Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. In Led Zeppelin, Bob Spitz takes their full measure, separating the myth from the reality with his trademark connoisseurship and storytelling flair.

From the opening notes of their first album, the band announced itself as something different, a collision of grand artistic ambition and brute primal force, of English folk music and African American blues. That record sold more than 10 million copies, and it was just the beginning; Led Zeppelin's albums have sold more than 300 million certified copies worldwide, and the dust has never settled. 

The band is notoriously guarded, and previous books provided more heat than light. But Spitz's authority is undeniable and irresistible. His feel for the atmosphere, the context - the music, the business, the recording studios, the touring life, the whole ecosystem of popular music - is unparalleled. His account of the melding of Page and Jones, the virtuosic London sophisticates, with Plant and Bonham, the wild men from the Midlands, in a scene dominated by the Beatles and the Stones but changing fast, is in itself a revelation. Spitz takes the music seriously and brings the band's artistic journey to full and vivid life.

The music, however, is only part of the legend: Led Zeppelin is also the story of how the '60s became the '70s, of how playing clubs became playing stadiums, of how innocence became decadence. Led Zeppelin wasn't the first rock band to let loose on the road, but as with everything else, they took it to an entirely new level. Not all the legends are true, but in Spitz's careful accounting, what is true is astonishing and sometimes disturbing.  

Led Zeppelin gave no quarter, and neither has Bob Spitz. Led Zeppelin is the full and honest reckoning the band has long awaited and richly deserves.

©2021 Bob Spitz (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"A gossipy, readable account.” - New Yorker

“In this authoritative, unsparing history of the biggest rock group of the 1970s, Spitz delivers inside details and analysis with his well-known gift for storytelling.” - People  

“★★★½ out of four . . . The good, the bad and the ugly coexist in the Led Zeppelin story, and Spitz knows well enough to report and tell it all.” - USA Today  

What listeners say about Led Zeppelin

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American made!

A deep dive into the legendary band, with some good insight into the urban myths surrounding Led Zeppelin, their management and the dubious and of hangers on that inhabited the dark and dangerous world of rock and roll.

Some of the pronunciation is miles off, particularly the Black Country dialect and place names in the UK, but that aside it was well narrated and especially sympathetic around the various tragedies that LZ endured.

Overall enjoyable and informative, would recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about the mighty Led Zep and their blaze across the world.

2 people found this helpful

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Speechless !!!!!

Wow wow wow !! I’m only 31 and I have been listening to led zeppelin for a while now and the audio book dose not disappoint a point

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Insightful history of Led Zeppelin

In depth history of the band. Revealing saga of a band that appears to be totally unaware of the trail of wreckage they left in the wake of their tours. In my estimation a real loss of respect for a total lack of self awareness.

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No fairytale

A brutal and honest account of one of the greatest bands ever. No holds barred.

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Memories

Having been at Earl’s Court , Knebworth and the O2 at the end, it was a joy to get the whole story. Nicely read so it’s unfair to pick on the amusing Pronunciation of English placenames but there was some real howlers away from that! All the Americans I know (who know!) Call the best hotel in Paris the George Cinq , not the George Vee …. And to introduce Paul Rodgers as the guitarist from Free…still it shows I was paying attention. Thanks for some great memories and for filling in the gaps

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-11-21

Very Disappointing.

I am not sure why the author felt the need to cover every single horrible thing this band did or was involved in. Not only does he describe everything in manute detail, but he does it over and over and over again. This book could have been much shorter. There's plenty in this book I wish I never heard of and would pay to un-hear it. 1/3 of this book is very entertaining. To the author I would say I don't like you. This is the only negative review I've given on any book I've listened to on audible. I feel like I need a shower.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Joe
  • 03-01-22

Sex & Drugs & Rock-n-Roll.... in that order.

The narration is articulate and engaging. The book is as well. Here's my full review....

I read Bob Spitz's book on The Beatles a decade ago. It is hands down one of the greatest books I've ever read, and I've read a lot. That magisterial book enraptured me with its detail and its drama. I was drawn into the world of The Beatles. So, when I saw that Bob Spitz had written a book on Zeppelin, I got it immediately.

But I purchased this book with a little trepidation, because Bob Spitz doesn't shy away from anything. His writing is raw and real. He does an immense amount of research and conducts countless interviews. No detail is missed. There's no mythologizing any musician after Bob Spitz gives them his treatment. He pulls back the curtain on everything.

With The Beatles, Bob Spitz's detailed coverage of their career--the music and everything around it--made me fall in love with the Fab Four even more. I was afraid that when he did the same thing with Led Zeppelin, I would love them less. I just finished the book today, and my initial fears were confirmed. Led Zeppelin produced amazing music, no doubt. They were so gifted, no doubt. But as human beings, they were monsters. Bob Spitz's book makes it a little more difficult to listen to their music.

The book is clearly a five-star book. I loved it, even as I had difficulty reading what was written about a band whose music I love and have loved for decades. Bob Spitz dedicates the first 100 pages to Jimmy Page, from his childhood through his studio apprenticeship to his inheritance of The Yardbirds. 'Led Zeppelin' doesn't exist until about 140 pages into the book--and then boom!-- the explosion of amazing music. Bob Spitz does a fantastic job (just as he did with The Beatles) in putting you in the studio and on the road--giving you a feel for the nuts-and-bolts construction of each album and a genuine appreciation for the giftedness of these musicians. That's real.

But whereas with The Beatles, the music grew increasingly more experimental and--by my account--so much better, the story of Led Zeppelin is the story of excess, hedonism and decline. It's painful to read at times.

The drug use and addiction is awful. The senseless violence and destruction made me look at these 'men' as worse than undisciplined little children. Their lack of empathy for others knew no bounds. Among the most disgusting passages were on the abuse of their 'groupies,' which were rarely women, but rather girls--middle school aged girls. I love Led Zeppelin. But it's really hard to continue to appreciate them when you know that their sexual exploits were not too far removed from those of Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and the like. And the deeper they got into their selfish hedonism, the worse the music got. Whereas The Beatles soared in their final years, Zeppelin plunged.

The book is still a page-turner. Bob Spitz is an amazing author that I love. I appreciate that he wrote this book. The only weak writing is the last chapter--I feel like after the death of Bonzo, Spitz just rushed to the finish. The book ends with Zeppelin's 2007 O2 Arena performance, but completely skips over the five year reunion of 'Page and Plant.' The one section that made me cry a little (and it really did) was the death of Robert Plant's son, and the recording of 'All of My Love' that followed. I didn't know that song was about Robert's loss.

This book can be difficult... but it's still an amazing read. I highly recommend it.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Joshua moreno
  • 28-01-22

Not For the Faint of Heart

It tells an amazingly detailed story of the greatest rock band to ever walk this Earth. The stories are crazy, unapologetic, disgusting & most of all very entertaining. Led Zeppelin IS the term “Party Like A Rockstar”. I wouldn’t recommend reading it if you offend easily but if you go into this book expecting to hear stories from the biggest band at the time(maybe of all time), then you’re in for a treat

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jana Br
  • 16-11-21

Rough ride

The first thing that I want to say is it I don’t understand how music critics, including John Mendelssohn, could write bad reviews about this band. From what I understand to this day he does not back away from his negative view of Led Zeppelin, to me, it’s his ego, he can’t admit that they invoked envy and jealousy in his heart. Their talent is undeniable, they were placed in a time, they belonged in that time, and belong for all time. I now need to listen to their either biographies or autobiographies to understand how each individual member ticked. There were moments where I was disappointed by them as men, they allowed horrible behavior to reign, they allowed horrible people to orbit around them. I sure hope Jimmy page stopped being with 14-year-old girls. But I sure do marvel at his talent, and all of their talents, Roberts voice, John Paul Jones playing, and John Bonhams raging arms.

3 people found this helpful

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  • R.Hill Clark.
  • 14-10-22

been endlessly listening to band bios

and I've come to realize how depressing it is, over and over again, that a small group of people who have been given everything a human being could ever want, and could create art together as a profession; not even these people can get along.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sarah Elizabeth
  • 07-09-22

The best from the best

Great book, doesn't touch on the crazy and odd of there adventures. Tells the facts and some cliff notes. I don't know how to cover a band like Led Zeppelin. I believe the job is done right. They are after all the decadent and outrageous behavior, four lads that are simply the best. This shares the story of Led Zeppelin.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dr Joseph Borreggine
  • 23-12-21

A Stairway to Heaven or was it?

When she gets there she knows, the stores are all closed and shes buying a stairway to Heaven…

This biography is about Led Zepplin and of all the members of the greatest rock and roll band that ever existed on the planet. The book gives the readers the entire story of LZ along with all the trials and tribulations of their success and failure. The entire story was certainly put out there in this book. Complete transparency indeed, I must say.

The reader will definitely enjoy and have a certain amount of intrigue regarding the stories of how all the members of LZ became the musical icons that they are. It was interesting how the friendships of Plant and Bonham along with Page and Jones were pivotal in the groups formation.

Once these guys got together as the “New Yardbirds” in 1969 that was it. Their first performance was melding of all their musical talent to create an iconic sound. It was created by all the years of experience and influences from the old blues standbys and singers that they grew up with through their formative years. Led Zepplin paid an undeniable homage to all the musical greats by evolving the music of that time into a rock and roll beat. This band that would change musical history forever.

Unfortunately with their individual personalities, egos, and illicit use of drugs and alcohol along with their destructive and controlling entourage led by Peter Grant, It was a recipe for disaster. Yes, the music was great! That is a given. Sadly, the best version was forever etched into the grooves of vinyl on the albums they made. In concert, who knew what to expect from show to show. But, at that time the fans did not care about the music that was being played. It was more about the experience of just being there. It didn’t matter what was happening because it was Led Zepplin and that was enough! But, for LZ, themselves, it was never enough.

Just a little more than a decade is a pretty good run for a bad such as Led Zepplin. The end was abrupt. They tried to get back together, but alas creative differences, personality clashes, and bad memories of their days as a band could not be squelched or erased. I cannot honestly say I was not a fan of LZ back in the day since I was too young, but now I am.

I am a fan because of the music that they created and played. Knowing nothing about LZ beyond that. That’s the way it should have stayed, but now I know the whole story. It’s a sad one indeed. I have heard it all. I have to believe a lot of what is in this book is true. It has to be. But, it still won’t change my mind or those true fans of LZ because it’s always about the music.

LZ is gone, but what they did for rock and roll is not. For with them, the song remains the same. Because its been a long time since we will ever rock and roll like that again. And, when we were all dazed and confused back then we didn’t realize that we would reach that stairway to Heaven because of Led Zepplin. Thanks to Mr. Spitz we now know the rest of the story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Christopher J Vezeau
  • 04-12-21

Lost and Gained Respect

I don't believe this is likely the most objective biography on Led Zepplin and you do get the sense that the author really tries his damndest to make sure you understand these guys are great musicians, but not also horrible people outside of the studio. That said, It seems it's always the same story for many rock bands: Start from nowhere, work hard for respect and recognition, make it BIG, and then drug abuse, excess, and lifestyle changes come into play, then someone dies or the band disbands and it's the end of the road. After listening to this book, I feel like I've gained a LOT of respect for LZ purely as musicians (especially Paige and JPJ), but I also feel like I've lost a TREMENDOUS amount of respect for LZ as human beings. Even if some of these stories are halfway true, it's not easy to listen to. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't get a way with most of the shenanigans today....thankfully.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Arty Fishull
  • 11-01-23

Excellent, worth the credit!

I was completely engrossed and never wanted to stop listening, even when I had too.

This is an honest insight into Led Zeppelin. It doesn't gloss over their unsavory actions and at the same time it doesn't dwell on them either. It tells you what happened when necessary and moves on. At no point was it overly salacious nor obscenely graphic. Certain things were addressed and only if it was integral to the history of the band.

I knew a lot of the history but have learned so much more. You do not have to be a fan of the band to enjoy this book as it can be enjoyed by anyone that wants a glimpse into the world of one of the largest rock bands to have ever existed, warts and all.

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  • Terence Lowery
  • 09-01-23

Upstage with Zep!!

Bob Spitz with Rob Shapiro has created a gut-wrenching thrilling narrative that struts and stumbles onstage with arguably the greatest rock and roll band in history.