Led Zeppelin's Chaotic '75 Tour Chronicled in New Book - Rolling Stone
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Led Zeppelin’s Chaotic ’75 Tour Chronicled in New Book

In ‘LZ-75,’ tales of Jimmy Page’s drug problems, Robert Plant’s flu, and John Paul Jones’ jealousy

When Stephen Davis wrote the Led Zeppelin biography Hammer Of The Gods in 1984 he created the mythical image of the band as a four-man army raping and pillaging their way across the world. His new book LZ-’75Rolling Stone. “I wanted to write about all the nights that Richard Cole didn’t ride the Harley down the hall of the Riot House and all the nights that Bonzo didn’t destroy all of the 11th floor.”

The project began a couple of years ago when Davis stumbled across a cardboard box containing the notebooks he kept as a young journalist freelancing for The Atlantic Monthly on Zeppelin’s 1975 tour. “I’d been looking for them for 30 years,” he says. “There was so much material in there about Jimmy Page having this badly sprained right hand and an obvious drug problem, Robert Plant having this terrible case of the flu and John Paul Jones furious he didn’t have any time in the spotlight.” If that wasn’t enough, drummer John Bonham was battling terrible diarrhea during the entire run. “I saw his drum roadies loading huge stacks of diapers into his camper one night,” Davis says. “They said it was in case he pisses himself.”

Zeppelin’s 1975 tour launched less than six years after the band formed, but Davis says it was already the beginning of their decline. “Plant had a secret vocal chord operation after the 1973 tour and afterwards he wasn’t quite the same,” he says. “The 1977 tour was a disaster with a lot of violence and drugs. After that John Paul Jones took over and the 1979 and 1980 tours were like a senior citizen’s Led Zeppelin.”

The band re-formed for a one gig in December of 2007, but despite rumors that a tour is imminent, Davis feels that any future activity is very unlikely. “I was just in England earlier this week and I heard from a really, really good source that Jimmy is basically sitting by the telephone waiting for it to ring. I don’t think it’s going to. Robert doesn’t need the money and he doesn’t want to stumble around football stadiums with Led Zeppelin anymore. He’s rather keep making Led Zeppelin III over and over again.”

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With LD-’75 on shelves, Davis is returning his attention to his Carly Simon biography. “Carly’s helping me with it,” he says. “But it’s still unauthorized.” Simon was on Howard Stern two years ago, where she bitterly tore into ex-husband James Taylor for refusing to speak with her. “He won’t even let their kids give her his phone number,” Stevens says. “The grandchildren have to have separate birthday parties. That’s J.T. for you.”

When that’s done he hopes to write a Stevie Nicks biography. “No one has ever done a proper job of it,” he says. “It’s another one of these holy quest sagas. She went to audition for Fleetwood Mac in her Bob’s Big Boy uniform singing ‘Rhiannon.’ That’s Hollywood!”

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