Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chris Welch's "Peter Grant: The Man Who Led Zeppelin"

The two words together Peter and Grant brought fear to concert promoters in rock n' roll. Peter Grant was the manager of Led Zeppelin. His story is interesting because he came from the rough and tough 1950's British pop culture world. Grant was a wrestler who had an interest in showbiz. Rock n' Roll showbiz to be exact. 
He was Gene Vincent's road manager in the early 60's and that had to be an extremely difficult job. And Grant's support for his artists meant sometimes he had the side of toughness to do what's best for them - which includes throwing Gene Vincent on stage -drunk or in miserable pain (due to a severe damage to one of his legs in a motorcycle accident) and make sure he's on stage when the curtain comes up. 
Although Chris Welch's book is a good biography, it is not an excellent one. I think due that there is a big narrative here that is not being fully covered. The 1970's Led Zeppelin years was one of great decadence but with also a great side of ugly violence. Why Grant, who always had a violent streak decided to go over the line to real physical violence is unknown. 
What is more clear is Grant is one of the major figures where artists got their fair share of the loot that was produced in the recordings and concerts. He was the first one to demand that concert promoters instead of the usual 60/40 arrangement, he made sure his band gets 90 and the venue gets 10. At the time it was unheard of, but due to the power of the Zeppelin and Grant's border-line sense of violence, the concert promoters thought of the deal differently. 
Of course in all narrations, the story gets darker, and its interesting how the 1970's played into all of that. The Stones were going through the same thing as well at the time. But Welch's book really dosen't go into that. And my major complaint about the book is that it didn't pull us up as readers to see the bigger picture of what was happening that decade. Pop culture, by its nature, is alway a part of the bigger picture. 
But this is an interesting book on an interesting man in rather interesting (dark) times in Rock N' Roll.
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