Led Zeppelin got a whole lot of belated love from the music industry on Saturday, earning a lifetime achievement Grammy in recognition of a career that changed the face of rock ’n’ roll.
The English band was one of 10 performers, alongside the likes of rockabilly hellraiser Jerry Lee Lewis, blues belter Janis Joplin and country crooner Eddy Arnold, celebrated at a luncheon one day before the Grammy Awards.
During their 12 years together, Led Zeppelin never won a Grammy, even though they were arguably the biggest band of the 1970s, a combo whose blues-based rock anthems resonate loudly to this day.
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and keyboardist John Paul Jones showed up with the two children of late drummer John Bonham to receive crystal trophies. Singer Robert Plant, busy rehearsing for a tour, sent in a video message.
“It wouldn’t have taken much just to pop over here and meet everybody, would it really?” Page asked Reuters.
Eclectic sound set band apartFor his part, the newly svelte guitarist said he found the ceremony very emotional. From the stage, he blew a kiss to his old label boss, Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, and later chatted with soul guitarist Ike Turner, who jokingly exclaimed, “You’re a grown man now!”
As for the belated recognition, Page bore no ill will, saying that Led Zeppelin’s eclectic oeuvre — with one album completely different from the next — may have been too difficult for Grammy voters to comprehend.
In a separate interview, Jones said Led Zeppelin was too busy touring and recording to pay much attention to awards. But now, the recognition was “incredibly cool.”
Bonham, whose alcohol-related death in 1980 at the age of 32 spelled the end of Led Zeppelin, was represented by children Jason and Zoe.
“It’s totally overwhelming,” said Zoe, who was five when he died. “The whole crazy thing about it is that it’s a lifetime achievement award, and he’s not here. The legend lives on.”
Other posthumous recipients, most represented by family members, included Joplin, country pioneers the Carter Family, jazz drummer Art Blakey, composer Morton Gould, and jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton.
The honorees were rounded out by gospel crossover group the Staple Singers, represented by Mavis and Yvonne Staples, and 91-year-old Delta blues pianist Pinetop Perkins, who will vie for his first Grammy on Sunday.