Why Keith Richards Couldn’t Stand Led Zeppelin’s Music

Music can have a divisive effect on its audience. One person’s favorite band may be another person’s least favorite. Because music is subjective by its very nature, it is impossible to approach it analytically. Thus, even the most successful bands and artists are subject to criticism at virtually every stage of their careers.  Where they began their careers can differ from where they ended them. Some great artists are initially criticized, but they are later hailed as geniuses. Therefore, receiving negative reviews early in one’s career does not indicate that it will continue in the same manner. Led Zeppelin, one of the most admired bands of today, also went through a similar process, as evidenced by Keith Richards’ statements about the band.

Why Did Keith Richards Slam Led Zeppelin? When Led Zeppelin released their self-titled debut album in 1969, it was initially met with negative reviews. Their sound was compared to that of popular bands of the time, such as Cream and the Jeff Beck Band, but they were considered inferior. Robert Plant was also criticized because he did not fit the conventional rock star image of the time. In 1969, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was asked to comment on Led Zeppelin, who had just released their debut album, during an interview with Rolling Stone. Richards stated that he had listened to the band’s album multiple times, but their sound did not appeal to him in any way. Therefore, he could no longer tolerate listening to them after a while.

The guitarist was initially critical of the band’s lead singer Robert Plant, stating that his voice began to irritate him greatly after repeated listens to the album. It could be because of his ‘acrobatic’ singing style, though he did not know for certain. Then, Richards criticized the late drummer John Bonham’s uncontrolled playing. While the guitarist praised Jimmy Page as a brilliant and well-respected guitarist, he perceived a certain emptiness in his playing.  Keith Richards responded as follows when asked about Led Zeppelin: “When I first got their album, I listened to it quite often, but then the singer’s voice began to irritate me. I do not know why; perhaps he is too acrobatic. But Jimmy Page is a great and highly regarded guitarist.”

Richards reflected on the band’s other members:  “I adore Jimmy Page, but not in a band with John Bonham driving an out-of-control 18-wheeler down the highway. There, he had cornered the market. Jimmy is an exceptional player. But I’ve always had the impression that it lacked something, you know?”  It is unknown whether Keith Richards changed his mind about Led Zeppelin over time, but it is certain that he did not initially enjoy listening to them as a band. Although he held Jimmy Page in high regard as a guitarist, he did not appreciate the band’s sound and overall aesthetic.

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