I never, ever thought I would see this….Led Zeppelin at the White House receiving medals from the President of the United States.
I did not know that Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones had been invited to the White House to be honored by the President until I saw pictures and videos of the event when surfing news stories this past Sunday. It was one those stories that I had to double check to make sure it was real and it certainly was. The legendary band had been invited to Washington to receive Kennedy Center Honors,along with talk show host David Letterman, actor Dustin Hoffman, ballerina Natalia Makarova and blues musician Buddy Guy.
Now that was an eclectic group.
I have been a huge Zeppelin fan since the early 1970’s. I grew up with them and to this day I can remember running out to get each new Zeppelin album as soon as they came out or listening to new Zeppelin songs on WPLJ in New York. I saw Led Zeppelin in concert at Madison Square Garden in the late 1970’s. They played six nights at the Garden and probably could have sold out about thirty shows. That was one of the first big rock concerts I attended. To be honest, my memory of that concert is a little vague at this point, but I do remember it and I remember what a big deal it was to see the mighty Led Zeppelin. There is no band today that generates the kind of excitement that Led Zeppelin did in their heyday. The tickets to the concert I attended had to be purchased via lottery. Zeppelin used that method of ticket distribution after riots broke out at several box offices during earlier tours. Fortunately, one my friends was able to get his hands on 6 tickets through the lottery. Of course, looking back on it now I feel especially lucky to have seen Zeppelin perform in person because it was only a few short years later that they broke up, after the untimely death of drummer John Bonham.
The actor Jack Black was on hand at the Kennedy Center to introduce various rock performers who played a few Zeppelin songs in tribute to the great band. Black, in addressing the audience at the Kennedy Center, declared Led Zeppelin the best rock band ever, even better than the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Led Zeppelin is my favorite band, but I don’t know if I would go that far. However, I do think it is fair to say that Led Zeppelin is in the same league as the Beatles and the Stones and perhaps one or two other bands that could rightfully be regarded as the rock bands that occupy the top tier of rock and roll.
There is no question that Zeppelin’s music has held up extremely well over the past three decades and their work remains extremely influential. I think Zeppelin’s music is probably more popular today with young people than any other group from the 1960’s or 1970’s.