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Led Zeppelin’s American “Tour” (Well, Actually, It’s Mainly Washington)

And it’s not to play music. We don’t think. Hell, they aren’t even officially reunited.

Iconic British rock group Led Zeppelin has been in the news quite a bit the past couple of days, having spent the weekend in Washington being lavished with honors by us Americans.

The blitz began Sunday at the White House, where the band’s surviving original members, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant, were honored in at a reception by President Barack Obama, along with other recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors. In his speech, the President also paid tribute to the late John Bonham, former drummer for the band, and made quips about the band’s early reputation for trashing hotel rooms, reminding them that they were “in a room with windows that are about three inches thick, and Secret Service all around.”

Later that evening, the band received ample tribute with other honorees at the Kennedy Center Honors, with verbal and musical tribute paid by the likes of Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, Lenny Kravitz, and a performance of “Stairway to Heaven” by Ann and Nancy Wilson (aka Heart), among others.

And it’s not over yet. Tonight, December 3, David Letterman (another of this year’s Kennedy Center honorees) will host the band on his show, Late Night with David Letterman. It is unclear at the moment whether the band will actually perform, but given that their last public performance was in 2007, the odds are unlikely.

While Led Zeppelin may not fit the mold of the typical Kennedy Center honorees, the award is well-merited. Zeppelin is one of those acts that undeniably and permanently altered the musical landscape, affecting and influencing many bands that came after, both in America and across the world. In the words of President Obama, “It’s been said that a generation of young people survived teenage angst with a pair of headphones and a Zeppelin album.” Not to mention that there are few guitar students today who have not cut their musical teeth on “Stairway to Heaven.”

Led Zeppelin’s most recent performance was at the O2 Arena in London in 2007; the band released Celebration Day, a DVD of the performance, in November. The Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcast on CBS on December 26.

About the Author


David Tillman is an independent composer/arranger whose primary work involves writing jingles for commercials for radio and television, with several film and television placements to his credit as well. David has a fascination for all things related to the music business and the music industry in general, an obsession which his wife finds to be mildly unhealthy at times. His personal tastes in music are in electronica and industrial rock, and include The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk and Nine Inch Nails (he loves that Trent Reznor is writing soundtracks!). When not in his office or in his man-cave, David enjoys skiing, hiking, the occasional game of golf, and sometimes just lounging by the pool. David lives with his wife and three children in Los Angeles, CA.

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