Why Keith Richards Couldn’t Stand Listening To Led Zeppelin

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Music can have a polarizing effect on the listeners. One’s favorite band may be the one another person dislikes most. That’s because music is subjective by nature, so it is impossible to approach it with an analytical approach. Thus, even the best bands or artists are subject to criticism at almost every point of their careers, no matter how successful they are.

Where they started their careers can also vary from where they finished. While some great artists are rebuked upon their arrival, they can be later praised as geniuses. So, getting bad reviews at the beginning of their career doesn’t mean that it will proceed similarly. One of the well-appreciated bands of today, Led Zeppelin, also went through a similar process, which also showed itself in Keith Richards‘ statements about the band.

Why Did Keith Richards Criticize Led Zeppelin?

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When Led Zeppelin debuted with their self-titled album in 1969, it initially received poor reviews. Their sound was compared to other popular bands of the time, like Cream and the Jeff Beck Band, but they were seen as lesser versions of them. Robert Plant was also the target of criticism since he didn’t fit the traditional rock star image of the period.

In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1969, the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was asked to share his opinions on Led Zeppelin, who had just arrived on the rock music scene with their debut record. Richards said he listened to the band’s album a few times, yet their sound didn’t appeal to him at all. So, he couldn’t stand listening to them after some point.

The guitarist was initially harsh on the band’s lead singer Robert Plant by saying that his voice began irritating him a lot after listening to the album several times. He didn’t know the exact reason, but it could be about his ‘acrobatic’ singing style. Then, Richards criticized the band’s late drummer John Bonham for playing uncontrollably. While the guitarist praised Jimmy Page by describing him as a brilliant and respected guitar player, he still saw a little emptiness in his playing.

Here is how Keith Richards replied when asked about Led Zeppelin:

“I played their album quite a few times when I first got it, but then the guy’s voice started to get on my nerves. I don’t know why; maybe he’s a little too acrobatic. But Jimmy Page is a great guitar player and a very respected one.”

Richards reflected on the other members of the band:

“I love Jimmy Page, but as a band, no, with John Bonham thundering down the highway in an uncontrolled 18-wheeler. He had cornered the market there. Jimmy is a brilliant player. But I always felt there was something a little hollow about it, you know?”

It is unknown whether Keith Richards changed his opinions about Led Zeppelin later on, yet it is for sure that he didn’t like listening to them as a band in the first place. Although he highly respected Jimmy Page as a guitar player, it was not enough for him to admire the band’s sound and overall style.