The Cult’s Ian Astbury Says It Was Like A Taboo To Be A Led Zeppelin Fan


During an interview with Lipps Service’s Scott Lipps, the Cult frontman Ian Astbury discussed the firm stance the early punk scene had against liking and listening to Led Zeppelin.

Even though punk’s roots originated from a nihilist perspective aiming to liberate and disobey, the movement had an almost conservative stance against other musicians and genres. It was hard for punk artists to come out and say that they may have been influenced by other ‘softer’ genres. At least, this seemed to be the case for Ian Astbury.

Astbury had the chance to witness the early British punk scene as a musician. It was a period when Led Zeppelin was belittled by some rockers and critics. The band was called ‘teenyboppers’ and criticized for Robert Plant’s physical stage performances. In the early ’80s, U.K.’s rock scene didn’t embrace Led Zeppelin.

When Ian Astbury was recently asked to list his musical influences and what kind of music he would listen to as a young musician, the frontman gave various names. While mentioning early inspirations, he revealed that even though he wasn’t supposed to listen to Led Zeppelin as a punkhead, he had grown fond of the band’s music.

The musician then discussed that the Doors was another band he would listen to, but they weren’t as big of a taboo as Led Zeppelin. The Doors were frequently listened to by other punk musicians. For Astbury, every musician, from Ian Curtis and Iggy Pop to Jim Morrison, is connected with each other as they form a lineage. Each artist has been influenced by the other.

Astbury disclosed:

”I was beginning to listen to the music we weren’t supposed to listen to as punks, which was Led Zeppelin, and the Doors. Well, The Doors are actually okay, I think, because I was in Liverpool in 1980, and everybody listened to the Doors. Everything sounded like the Doors. I mean, even Ian Curtis was mimicking, to a degree, Iggy Popp, who was mimicking Jim Morrison, who was mimicking Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. So, it was a lineage, and it was something passed on to the croon baritone.”

Even though the Doors’ wasn’t as controversial to like and listen to, Ian explained that Led Zeppelin wasn’t tolerated. As the frontman listened to various genres and music, to come out and express admiration for Led Zeppelin was still an absolute taboo.

Even though the media and the audience couldn’t handle Zeppelin, Ian Astbury revealed that he once decided to wear the ‘forbidden’ band’s shirt, leaving everyone around him shocked. At the end of the day, however, whether it’s Led Zeppelin or Public Image, for Ian Astbury, it is all music.

The Cult frontman explained:

”I was listening to all this diffrenet kind of music and it was almost a taboo to come out and say, you’re coming out as a fan of Led Zeppelin in the early 80’s. You know, you were going to get some feedback. Initially the media couldn’t handle it, nobody could handle it. I came out with a Led Zeppelin t-shirt on and everyone was like, ‘What?’ So, we can like Public Image and Led Zeppelin because it’s music.”

You can watch the entire interview below.