Monday, August 25, 2008

Led Zeppelin / Sex Pistols

Was outraged to read that Leona Lewis - whoever she is - some singer apparently - wanted to change the lyrics to Led Zeppelin classic Whole Lotta Love before she sang them at the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Quite why this person should be changing the lyrics of the mighty Led Zeppelin is a mystery to me.

Considered watching the ceremony on TV, partly to see Jimmy Page play guitar, and partly to hurl abuse at Leona Lewis, but fell asleep on couch instead.

Robert Plant was the singer in Led Zeppelin. I went to see him play a solo gig in 2002, which was around the time Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me was first published. I went with a journalist friend, Jelbert. It was a good gig. Afterwards, the journalist introduced me to Robert Plant. I felt quite overwhelmed. That surprised me. I would have expected that I was too old to feel overwhelmed by meeting anyone. It's a long time since I was a young fan. I was a school kid when I saw Led Zeppelin on stage. But, many years later, I did feel strangely affected by saying hello to their singer.

Although I wasn't as affected as - travelling a long way back in time - the gigantic skinhead who I saw put his arms round Johnny Rotten at a Gary Glitter gig in 1978. The skinhead, a very large, scary-looking individual, simply enveloped him in his arms, hugging him, in silent gratitude for just being Johnny Rotten. They stood like that for a long time. The singer from the Sex Pistols looked awkward, and the skinhead practically wept with joy. I suppose Johnny had changed his life. That's reasonable enough, he changed mine too, though I never attempted to hug him.


  1. Oh, I stayed awake - it was terrible. You didn't miss a thing. I couldn't really make out what the new lyrics were, too busy cringing at her awkward attempts to dance and must say that Page was gurning rather. Then David Beckham came out and was supposed to kick a ball into the audience but panicked and sort of nudged it off the edge. The whole thing was a bit Austin Powers.

  2. The last person who tried to hug Rotten was Duffy at some gig or other recently. Only she hadn't been introduced to him and he had his back to her when she flung her arms around. Unsurprisingly, he responded by telling her to fuck off (because it's really not ok, actually, to initiate intimate contact beyond a handshake with someone you don't know). Duffy reportedly burst into tears and rushed off. I think she got off lightly. And I would have done the same as Rotten.

  3. I think falling asleep might really have been the proper reaction.

  4. Anonymous7:45 pm

    I think falling asleep was the best response. I was going to watch (just to be sure the whole thing was really over) but having got confused with the whole bank holiday weekend I ended up turning the TV on this afternoon, not yesterday, so missed it by 24 hours.

    I gather I didn't miss much?

    I'm not sure you're ever too old to get that thrill from meeting someone who changed you life. I met Neil Gaiman last year when he did a reading in Bath, and spent the rest of the day grinning like a loon because it gave me such a thrill. (I did, however, amnage to resist the 'I'm never going to wash the part of my face he kissed' impulse, which I probably wouldn't have done had I still been 16...)

  5. Maybe the "poor girl" can't remember the right words of WLL ?
    Anyway with all the good singers you have in England WHY? choose Leona Lewis ?
    Paolo a John bonzo Bohnam fan

  6. Anonymous8:13 pm

    I understand about feeling overwhelmed when you meet one of your heroes (or used-to-be heroes). I met one a few years ago and was surprised to find myself totally tongue-tied - a rarity indeed. I just stared at her. She signed my book so fast it's totally illegible; couldn't get rid of me soon enough. I hope your experience wasn't as embarrassing as mine.

  7. Anonymous2:50 am

    I met Bill Clinton when he was stil the leader of the free world and shortly after his affair with Monica and her blue dress was exposed. Although I had never given him enough thought to be considered a *fan* (and I am not an American) I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. The man's personal charisma was enormous. He gave me a hug and I nearly keeled over with excitement. So...there's always someone who can bring us to our knees. (Pun intended)

  8. Anonymous7:42 pm

    Robert Plant was at my favourite festival (Fairport's Cropredy Convention) this year and I thought of you! He was amazing.

  9. I missed that,the only bits of the Olympics I got to see was while gigging (Why pubs have so many TV's is beyond me) but I think if I were going on stage in front of the world and planned to sing Led Zepplin, I sure as heck would not be changing the words.

  10. Anonymous2:27 am

    I managed to miss that despite using the Olympics as backdrop for my knitting last month.

    I did bump into a young 20ish year old men in a Led Zeppelin T and mentioned seeing them in concert when I was younger. His eyes got wide and he blurted "you don't look that old" before he could help himself. I wasn't sure whether to drown him in the ocean or thank him. I mostly made him feel real bad by agreeing he's missed out on perfection and no amount of old timers touring would ever bring him the true joy of seeing them "back in the day". Then I showed him your book and made him promise to buy it.

  11. Stromboy12:16 pm

    What's wrong with her changing the lyrics.
    After all Lead Zepplin were taking old blues songs and re interprating them to suit their music. Lead Zepplin dared to be inovative with music that's was one of their many talents.
    This is music it's not set in stone by people who think Lead Zeplin is the be all and end all of music. Plant lyrics with Zeplin were for the most part preety crap either about shaging or needing to get his leg over or some hip tripy stuff(all of my love of course was an exception)

    Of course Leona Lewis is not in the same leuge (for cretivity or talent in my opinion) but you should focuss your crtisim on page if he wants to cash in on past musical glories (which are now fading into the distant re-cess of time)
    His presence made the whole thing seem ok.
    Leona Lewis is the winner of some talent show x factor or something like a conservative and clean cut pop star gromed for the family market no doubt. If she dosent want to interpret Whloe lotta Love in the sexuly agresive way that Plant does that is up to her. And anyway the way Willie Dixon sung the original song and lyrics that inspired Zeps to turn it into whole lotta Love was a lot different from Plant.
    If Page wasnt just thinking about a fat pay-day he could have insited with a modern performer more in tune with Zeplins harder stuff Pink Christin Agularia Lady Gaga etc might not have been as prudish about the song.