Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 14 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Life Arts    H4'ed 1/14/13

Zeppelin Over Washington

By Lori Spencer  Posted by Dave Lindorff (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Message Dave Lindorff

By Lori Spencer

Led Zep came to the White House
Led Zep came to the White House
(Image by ThisCantBeHappening)
  Details   DMCA

When Led Zeppelin attended a reception at the White House in advance of the Kennedy Center Honors, they were just as shocked to find themselves there as most everybody else was. Being personally roasted by the President of the United States -- along with fellow Kennedy Center Honorees Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, and Buddy Guy -- was an experience Zeppelin's Jimmy Page could later only describe as "surreal." 

Page, Plant, and John Paul Jones also enjoyed getting the royal treatment during a weekend of festivities in Washington, D.C., including a State Department dinner on December 1 hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former president Bill Clinton.

Secretary Clinton described the honorees as "a group of legends and icons as diverse as they are talented. We have in our group of honorees tonight a broad cross section of talent and energy from comedian to chameleon, ballerina to bluesman, and three men so synonymous with rock and roll they need no more description than Page, Plant, Jones," Clinton said.

"Now, in my line of work, we often talk about the art of diplomacy," she added. "I really like saying that because so many of the building blocks for art and diplomacy are the same. We have to be willing to try new things, occasionally take big risks. " So the arts and diplomacy actually do go hand in hand. They play out on world stages and reflect our common need to build bonds of understanding with others."

(Now, if only Secretary Clinton would listen to more Led Zeppelin, perhaps she could manage to tone down the warmongering and actually live up to her words about building bonds of understanding with others. But I digress...)

The Kennedy Center Honors take place at the Opera House in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Honorees and their guests sit in the front of the Box Tier with the President and the First Family. In keeping with Kennedy Center tradition, the Honorees are not allowed to speak to or interact with members of the audience.

Zeppelin's three surviving members, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, sat down the row from President and Michelle Obama in the balcony. All of the honorees wore the Kennedy Center Honors rainbow-colored sash and medal.

Naturally, the show's producers at CBS saved the Led Zeppelin tribute segment for last and pulled out all the stops. The Foo Fighters kicked it off with Dave Grohl behind the drum kit again and Taylor Hawkins tackling Robert Plant's screams on "Rock and Roll." Kid Rock did "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" (which was unfortunately cut from the CBS telecast Dec. 26) and "Ramble On." Next up was Lenny Kravitz and his band funking up "Whole Lotta Love."

"It was quite exhilarating to hear the different approaches that people had to the songs," Page said later. He and his fellow Zeppelin bandmates could be seen throughout the entire tribute tapping their feet in rhythm, watching the musicians' hands closely; seeming to be genuinely intrigued by how their songs were being interpreted.

Finally, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart -- two girls that grew up idolizing Led Zeppelin -- walked onstage and repaid the inspiration. As the duo"s sparse, acoustic "Stairway to Heaven" reached the song's middle section, an orchestra joined in. Then came the 80-voice Joyce Garrett Youth Choir. The effect of so many voices singing the final chorus was overwhelmingly powerful. Tears could be seen in Robert Plant's eyes when Jason Bonham suddenly materialized behind the drum kit, wearing his father"s old signature bowler hat.

None of the members of Led Zeppelin had been told in advance that Jason was going to be there. They were clearly astonished -- and deeply touched -- when they saw him take his place onstage. Even Jimmy Page, a man not easily overwhelmed by emotion, had a tear rolling down his cheek.

That moment was just one of many in recent months that Plant and Page appeared to be closer and more in sync with one another than they had been in 15 years, since their last studio album together ("Walking Into Clarksdale"). Although the pair did two solo tours together in the 1990s, John Paul Jones was not included in those creative endeavors, which deepened friction within the Zeppelin family.

Jones was invited to join them at the O2 Arena in London for the 2007 reunion, which eventually became "Celebration Day." During their many public appearances together this fall, it was readily apparent that the trio had re-established the chemistry and friendship of years past. All seemed to be forgiven. Jones, Page, and Jason Bonham have stated quite categorically that they would be in favor of a reunion album and tour. But for the past five years, Plant has been the last holdout.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Dave Lindorff Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Dave Lindorff, winner of a 2019 "Izzy" Award for Outstanding Independent Journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media in Ithaca, is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact EditorContact Editor
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Israel's Gaza Atrocities Recall America's Atrocities in Vietnam

Looming climate catastrophe?: A Rapidly Warming Arctic Could Loose a Methane Climate Bomb Causing Extinction in 9 Years

Supreme Court Junket King Scalia Dies While Vacationing with Wealthy Patrons at Private West Texas Getaway

Something's happening here: Clinton's Crumbling, Bernie's Surging and a 'Political Revolution' May Be in the Offing

The Case for Impeachment of President Barack Obama

Barack Obama: Manchurian Candidate Version 2.0

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend