What Every Band Should Learn From Zeppelin’s Graceful Bow
The surviving members of Led Zeppelin could not have predicted the resurgence of classic rock bands' popularity when on this day in 1980 they announced their exit from performing, in tribute to their recently-passed friend, drummer John Bonham. They were a band, broken by the sudden death of Bonham that previous September, and decided that they would never record or perform as Led Zeppelin again. And they never have.
Many other, arguably less talented, less popular bands have reunited and split so many times they have made a mess of their collective legacy. Another band from the same time, Bad Company, have stopped, started, quit, and reunited as winds changed directions, squandering the years Led Zeppelin would have killed for. Paul Rodgers body of work reads like a scratch and dent sale after his stint in Bad Company. A few bargains, but never the level of Bad Company's early years. And Bad Company without Paul Rodgers?
Other bands have traded in their legacies for legalities, and legal tender. Lynyrd Skynyrd dared record with their imposters. And while I can name the songs on "Second Helping" in order--I might be harder-pressed to name anything from"1991" other than Smokestack Lightning. It's so obvious when a band is only in it for the cash that I wonder how it is I keep getting tricked.
I wonder how a band of brothers tight enough to make a hard-hitting outfit like Bon Jovi can end up in court, suing each other, fighting over the scraps of a career. And there are so many others.
In contrast, Led Zeppelin saw the only way to save the band was to disband the band. Genius. The crowds clamored, the video games came calling, the rumors swirled, but the boys in the band kept true to their word. And the name Led Zeppelin means something because of it. The only time the band came close to a reunion in the purest sense was a tribute concert played by the surviving members, and Bonham's son, for Ahment Ertegun, whose record label gave Led Zeppelin a chance. There wasn't a discussion of dividing up revenues, or credit. Just a heartfelt performance by still broken-hearted friends.
Kudos, Led Zeppelin.