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Five Zeppelin myths debunked

1) Led Zeppelin invented heavy metal.

Aw, come on. That's a real stretch, and one that ignores about 75 percent of the band's work. It might be said that the primal blues amplified to arena proportions by Jimmy Page's guitar riffs, a la "Whole Lotta Love," paved the way for the lowest-common-denominator meathead metal of the latter-'80s, when guys who'd never heard Howlin' Wolf stripped Zep of its blues-based context and forward-looking intellect. That's not Zeppelin's fault, though. The difference between "heavy rock" and "heavy metal" is vast. Zeppelin personifies the former, but not the latter.

2) Led Zeppelin is a "Satanic" band.

This claim is barely worth commenting on, but the idea is still tossed around. It's basis is the fact that Jimmy Page lived in a castle once owned by writer and philosopher Aleister Crowley, who liked to smoke opium and plot out nihilistic and narcissistic fantasies of self-empowerment and individualism. Later, evangelistic-types got their knickers in a knot trying to play "Stairway to Heaven" backward, insisting that the words "My sweet Satan" emerged when the long-player was spun in reverse fashion. They don't, actually. It sounds more like "Mnnggfffh ahhhh morrrgnnnotnuf." This, as far as I'm aware, is not an incantation to the dark one. It's just the sound a vinyl record makes when some dimwit plays it backward.

3) Led Zeppelin is a "dinosaur rock band."

If, by "dinosaur," one means "talented, diverse and ambitious collective of musicians dedicated to capturing an ensemble interplay of impressive proportions," well, maybe Zep is a dinosaur act. If, on the other hand, you say this hoping to categorically wipe out the contributions of the band simply because its remaining members are "old," well, shame on you.

4) Led Zeppelin is a "classic rock band."

Yes, the same 10 to 15 Zeppelin tracks get played on many classic rock stations, to the exclusion of the rest of the catalog. This is a question of demographic marketing techniques, not music, however. Zeppelin's far-reaching creativity doesn't fit neatly into any one category.

5) Led Zeppelin will reform and tour in 2008.

This will not happen. The band is reforming for a one-off concert in honor of mentor, friend and colleague Ahmet Ertegun. Robert Plant will then tour with Allison Krauss in support of the pair's brilliant "Raising Sand" album. Zeppelin ended in 1980, when John Bonham died. Page, Plant and Jones aren't likely to work together again for any extended period of time.

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