Jimmy Page’s Confession About Led Zeppelin’s ‘Meaningless Protest’
Most cult bands have had their challenges while trying to make it in the rock scene, but to be Led Zeppelin in Britain during the late ’60s wasn’t just a challenge; it was the ultimate test. You see, the British press decided to play a little game called ‘how to ruin Led Zep,’ and they were pretty determined to win.
The band’s British peers were also eager to take their chances with the game, as many called them ‘teenyboppers’ to suggest that the act had no talent but was only famous because of their good looks. Promoters were also concerned about not attracting an audience if they promoted the band using Led Zeppelin’s original name, so the band was known as ‘The New Yardbirds’ in local clubs for a while.
Things ultimately got resolved, though, as the band became a cult rock act, and the rest was history. Still, their challenges weren’t resolved even after the band had proven their musical abilities. Then, Led Zeppelin got very annoyed, and Jimmy Page later disclosed that the band decided to have a ‘meaningless protest.’
Even though Led Zeppelin’s former rivals, the British press, might now seem fascinated with Robert Plant’s vocals or Jimmy Page’s guitar riffs, not everyone was so friendly back then. For instance, Rolling Stone magazine might seem innocent due to their general appreciation of the band, but in the late ’60s, they were real trouble.
The magazine slammed Led Zeppelin’s debut record with various criticisms, suggesting the band wasn’t genuine, their tracks were only famous because of Robert Plant’s appeal as an attractive frontman, and the act’s musical genius didn’t have anything to do with its popularity. Maybe it also didn’t help that Led Zeppelin’s first three albums were self-titled.
So, the band started a protest to prove that their success was a direct result of their talent and not their good looks. In ’93, while talking to Guitar World, Jimmy Page answered if Rolling Stone’s famous criticism of their debut album made the band want to change their musical direction on the second album. The guitarist disclosed how they tried to fight back.
“Not at all,” said Page as he emphasized that the band never considered changing their musical direction because of criticisms. He continued, “We knew what we had, and we kept improving all the time. Also, we were playing all the music live, and people were responding to what we were doing. That is the ultimate test. It did not really start bothering me until after the third album.”
After the third record, the band perhaps realized there was no end to the criticisms and decided to try something new. The guitarist shared, “After all we had accomplished, the press was still calling us a hype. So that is why the fourth album was untitled. It was a meaningless protest, really, but we wanted to prove that people were not buying us for the name.”
There is probably no need to discuss whether Led Zeppelin achieved popularity only due to their looks. Still, it sounds like the press wasn’t keen on recognizing their musical talents, and it wasn’t easy to become the cult ‘Led Zeppelin.’ To Jimmy, it was annoying to see that their music received no appreciation from magazines and peers, so the band played a game of their own and didn’t name their fourth record.