The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

 

Hammer of the Gods

By Steven Davis

 

This book has been around for years and reviewed, I'm sure, a million times. But as a Rock Biography it takes some beating. For all its sensationalism if you want to read a book every bit as on the edge as the Dirt this is the original tome.

Steven Davis is a great writer, he has a style that is easy to read and he draws you in beautifully.

 

One of the many covers

 
I picked up my copy in a second-hand store in LA a few years back, a slightly tatty paperback that had obviously been read a few times before it came to me. LA seemed like the place to read it after all, with the Riot House just down the road.

For those wanting a great rock read this is the book. Itís full of over the top exploits, its not too shabbily researched, packed with history and the story is the classic tale of excess and fall in non-PC days gone by. What it lacks in detail you can find elsewhere. Whether itís all entirely true is largely irrelevant!

Led Zeppelinís music has been with most of us for years; it has played a role in all of our lives, and continues to do so today. Itís hard to think of rock without Zeppelin and so to read the back story is a must.

The main players are characterised pretty much as you would imagine. Four talented and inspirational musicians, who became part of one of the biggest and most successful rock bands ever to exist.Where the success of Zeppelin took them is the real story. You read all of the tabloid-style headlines and see them in varying states of decadence.Only JPJ comes out of it relatively unscathed and it is his story threading through the endless planes and limos and parties that gives you little flashes of reality.

Thereís all the gory detail from the tours, all the other-worldliness of the shows, all the highs and plenty of tragedy too. How it stands up as a historical record is really a matter of opinion, but it never stops you turning the pages. And it is after all a helluva story, warts and all.

By the end I came away with the feeling that Jimmy had it all planned out all along even if he couldnít control it. That Robert metamorphosed into something much larger than life, Bonzo dealt with things as best he could in an everyman type of way, and that JPJ survived largely intact by keeping as much as he could at arms length.

Thatís not to say the band get off lightly. We see the flaws creep in, the arrogance, the stupidity and the overindulgence. I ended up largely sympathetic of them all. You feel Bonzo crying out at certain points and you can understand a lot of what he gets up to, even if you canít entirely condone all of his actions. His is the saddest story of all of course because he seems so unequipped to really deal with all of the trappings of such intense fame.

The other great character of the book is of course Peter Grant, scary and driven, absolutely relentless. Itís hard to tell whether the story would have gone the way it did without such an overbearing presence as him at the helm. Itís certain that it couldnít possibly have been the same.

 So if you want a great story about a great band with more excess crammed into it than you can shake a stick at this is the read for you. Take it with a beer and a large pinch of salt, maybe, but Iím sure you will enjoy the ride (Limo not included).


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