Led Zeppelin

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RPF Fandom
Name(s): Led Zeppelin, Page/Plant, Tris/Alex, Allyn Sterling/Derek Quinn, Zepfic
Scope/Focus:
Date(s): 1970s-1990s
See also: Tris/Alex, Music RPF
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Pure Blues, issue #3, May/June 1979
fan art by by ~Shivluvzmusic: "What's better than one Led Zeppelin album? Four Led Zeppelin albums put into one. Hope you fans are able to figure them out. Took about 12 hrs through 6 days. 2H, and 2B pencils. Can't live a day without their music."

Led Zeppelin is a band formed in 1968, consisting of four members: Jimmy Page (guitarist and founding member), Robert Plant (singer), John Paul Jones (bassist), and John Bonham (drummer). Within the fandom, the most popular Real Person Ship is Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (Jimbert or Page/Plant) — some of the initial inspiration for RPS slash originally written in the late 1970s. One of the reasons the fandom and ships are so strong is because of the strong relationships formed by the band members themselves. They broke up after their drummer, John Bonham, died in 1980. After that, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were broke off into their own solo careers with the occasional reunions that the fans speculate to be emotionally based. Many fans, (non-slash fans included) believe that the Coverdale-Page[1] (David Coverdale and Jimmy Page) musical collaboration in 1991 was used as a way to get Robert to come back (professionally or emotionally); and in 1994, there was a Page and Plant reunion and album release.

Initial Fandom and Today's Fandom

Interestingly, there were Led Zeppelin fan videos made throughout this period, and they, of course, used footage of Led Zeppelin and solo footage of Page and Plant without qualms.

In 1992, fans at Cornell University created a Led Zeppelin listserv, known as Digital Graffiti, or DG for short. The name Digital Graffiti comes from the album name Physical Graffiti.

The Led Zeppelin fandom (led heads, not to be confused with dead heads) is still strong today. Much of the fandom is fueled by: the 1973 concert film The Song Remains The Same, other concert footage released from the Led Zeppelin DVD released in 2003, Celebration Day (2012), interviews, and more.

In The Song Remains The Same, the fans are given brief experts of footage for each member called “the fantasy sequence.” This gives the fans a more visual aspect rather than lyrical and musical way to see their favorite members since they created the sequences themselves. Jimmy Page is the wizard on top of the mountain, Robert is the prince going to save the prince, John Paul Jones is the mystery masked horse rider, and John Bonham is the simple farm dad.

Within most concerts footage (official release and bootlegged), there are brief bits of footage of Robert Plant talking to the the audience and makes little jokes. These are often called “plantations” [1] by fans, and they better show the relationship between all the members and provides references for fans to make to each other.

Tris and Alex, Derek and Allyn: Coded RPF

At the time that fans were beginning to slash Plant and Page, RPS was both uncommon and strongly stigmatized. RPS in Star Trek, Starsky & Hutch, and The Professionals was never published in print zines, but instead passed hand to hand.

To show respect for the real people and to avoid possible legalisms, the writers in this fandom often changed the names of the real Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

One pair of writers, Nancy Arena and Pam Rose, named them Tris and Alex in their short stories and in their novel For All the Gods Departed. These names caught on, and other people in the small fandom used those names as well.

Bird of Paradise is a similar fanwork. It is an explicit slash crossover with Starsky and Hutch/OCs (Derek Quinn and Allyn Sterling) who most fans believed were based on Led Zeppelin. According to the author, however, the OCs were instead based on real people in a lesser known band.[2]

appears to be a fan's fictional timeline, perhaps from "The Binder of Pain"
appears to be a fan's fictional timeline, perhaps from "The Binder of Pain"

Unlike media fandom Tris/Alex fandom did not have TV episodes to create their canon, but fans used live footage that as one fan explained: "Some of which could be called good hair/pants days, and other concerts/interviews that even their mothers...do not show them at their best." [3] Still slash fans, like fans before and after, happily persevered to create their own fanon.

As one fan explained the lack of canon was actually a benefit to those writing RPS: "And the best part is--it *isn't* scripted! We *don't know* what will happen next! Will they stay together? We hope so, but we don't know. Will they "declare their undying love/lust for each other?" Although we're not holding our collective breath for that one, *we don't know*. The remote chance is--they might! After all, as you noted in your message, Robert yelled out at the end of a recent concert in Scotland, "We're back! And we're courting!" So who can tell? That's both the joy and hardship of this particular fandom." [4]

With such a small fandom struggling to swim upstream against the tide of fans dubious of RPS, all fan fiction, even unfinished stories, was greeted with joy: "In fact, back in my Tris/Alex days I had an entire 3-ring binder of unfinished stories by all sorts of writers. Megan Kent started it, and called it "The Binder of Pain." There was so little *finished* fiction in the fandom, sometimes I just had to reread these little unfinished pieces, even though I knew I'd be a wreck afterwards..." [5]

However, now, if one were to look up any slash fic for Led Zeppelin, they are sure to find plenty without shame or name changes. [2]

Page/Plant Era and Reunions

When Page and Plant briefly recorded and toured together in the mid-90s, fans worked the entire get together/tour/breakup into an existing fannish narrative of their lives. A small amount of fic was published (this time using their real names), and more fan vids incorporating the new source video appeared (some by the Media Cannibals, on Tape2 and Tape5).

At that time (2008) Robert was still "will I/won't I" to Jimmy about touring.

However, The Celebration Day release in 2012 was a haven for the fans since it was the footage from the O2 arena reunion concert in 2007 that many fans could not make it to. The band reunited for one night only— Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham (son of original drummer, John Bonham). The “will I/won’t I” debate has still been an issue concerning reunions in the future, but it is pretty much decent that they won’t now.

The Eroica Connection and Other Allusions

In 1976, Yasuko Aoike wrote Eroica manga (From Eroica with Love), which note only has many Led Zeppelin references like a character named Bonham, but the two main characters, Klaus and Dorian, look suspiciously like Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. The references and connections go on and on as a homage to the influential band. See Eroica for more information.

Many Led Zeppelin fans watch the works of famous director, Cameron Crowe, just to spot the small Led Zeppelin references he will make (as he is a big fan himself and a friend of the band). For example, in the film, Almost Famous, there is one character who is characterized by being the huge Led Zeppelin fan, and he is wearing a shirt that says “to be a rock and not to roll” on the front, quoting the song “Stairway to Heaven.” On the back, it quotes a lesser known song, The Crunge, and says “where’s that confounded bridge?” On of the most well known quotes from the movie is “I am a golden god!” which is a reference to a famous photo of Robert Plant. [3]

The film, Let’s Spend the Night Together, tells the tales of some of the ultimate fans of classic rock— the groupies. The film was made by one of the most famous groupies of the Pamela Des Barres, who was indeed rather close with Jimmy Page and the rest of the band at one point. She interviews other famous groupies tied with bands like Led Zeppelin such as: Lori Maddox and Cassandra Peterson (before becoming Elvira Mistress of the Dark). Each tell of their love of the members as well as their close personal experiences with them.

Notable Fanworks

Fan Fiction:

Vids:

  • Rock and Roll by Sandy Herrold and Megan Kent. This vid appeared on Media Cannibals Tape 2. Liner notes: "This was a blast to do, but LZ is such a small fandom we figured we were the only two people who'd understand (or care...) Basically, it's about them missing each other, all they've done while apart, and the short reunions that finally lead to them getting back together as Page & Plant last year."
  • Turn the Page by Sandy Herrold and Megan Kent. This vid appeared on Media Cannibals Tape 5
  • Promises" by Sandy Herrold and Megan Kent. Appeared at the 1994 Virgule convention. May also be the same vid as "Rock and Roll' by the vidders
  • "When He Shines". Vidders name is only listed as "LB". (possibly Linda B.)
  • "Guitar Man". Vidders name is only listed as "LB". (possibly Linda B.)

Led Zeppelin Fan Art

  • Led Zeppelin - Flower by oazen2008 [5]
  • Led Zeppelin by JKorim [6]

Additional Reading

References

  1. Wikipedia page for David Coverdale
  2. Gloria Galasso. Email to gardeners list. April 13, 2010.
  3. Sandy Herrold posting to the Virgule-L mailing list September 13, 1994, quoted with permission.
  4. Posted to the Virgule-L mailing list September 12, 1995, name withheld.
  5. Sandy Herrold posting to Virgule-L mailing list June 22, 1998, quoted with permission.
  6. WebCite for "BandFic history and Led Zeppelin"