Led Zeppelin

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RPF Fandom
Name(s): Led Zeppelin, Page/Plant, Tris/Alex, Allyn Sterling/Derek Quinn, Zep
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 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, of course, they 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.

Casted in Fanworks

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.

From a fan in 1996:

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were the two front men in Led Zeppelin, a hugely popular 70's heavy rock band. And for whatever reason (incredible charisma, Robert's stunning head full of curls, black magic), they have attracted more than their share of attention from slash fans.

Eroica (the manga) is based (very lightly) on them (Robert Plant is the photo reference she used to draw Eroica: Mr. James is Jimmy Page, Bonham was the drummer of Led Zep). There is also two fictionalized slash universes based on renamed and disguised versions of Jimmy and Robert: Tris/Alex and Allyn/Derrick. Stories about them have appeared in zines, and there is a wonderful slash novel in each fandom.

Despite the existence of disguised versions, some fans prefer to go back to the originals and write/hypothesis directly about Robert and Jimmy. None of these stories has been published (or, actually *finished*) but drafts of a few of them have been shared among fans. [2]

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. A fan in 1993 wrote: "I came back from the con to 298 unread messages, and let me tell you, my devotion to Robert/Alex and Jimmy/Tris is being tested: 111 of them were from the Led Zep list... [3]

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.[4]

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." [5] Still slash fans, like fans before and after, happily persevered to create their own fanon.

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..." [6]

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. [7]

For more on this topic, see Tris/Alex.

The Eroica Connection and Other Allusions

In 1976, Yasuko Aoike began Eroica manga (From Eroica with Love), which stars an art thief whose character design is based on Robert Plant, and who has employees named James, Bonham, and Jones. The references and connections go on and on as a homage to the influential band. See Eroica for more information. There are also several Zeppelin cameos in Aoike's manga Eve no Musuko Tachi.

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).

Fan Casted in "Sea of Solaris"

The band members appear in the original slash zine, Sea of Solaris.

Onstage, a tall, lean Human with a thick mane of golden curls strutted about in colorful, form-fitting clothes that left nothing to the imagination about his religion. “I would like to introduce you to each of my dear friends in our band,” he said into the microphone clutched in one ring-clustered hand. His beads and bracelets glinted under the bright lights. “On the lead guitar, the man with the very talented fingers he giggled and winked suggestively at the guitarist, who smiled and shook his head. “Jamie Padgett!”

The dark-haired musician, a felinoid native of the world Sekmaht, let fly with a fancy riff that sent the crowd into spasms of delight.

"On the synthesizer, Sean Phillip Smith!"

Peering through straight, shoulder length hair, the keyboardist gave a brief display of his talent.

“Ian Bonnet!” Planet cried, pointing to the drums. He was rewarded with some wild, heavy beats, which he punctuated with sharp, pelvic thrusts. The percussionist carried the demonstration right into a familiar Dirigible rhythm, and the others took up the cue.

Rupert danced up to the front edge of the stage, threw open his arms, and announced to the entire hall, “And I think you all know who I am...!” He grinned flirtatiously, tossing his golden curls before launching into the lyrics.

The audience bounced like a single mass of protoplasm, whistling and applauding in approval. Bonnet pounded the drums with maddening intensity. The music built, Rupert’s vocals screaming up and down the scales. Jamie stroked his guitar with vicious, finger-flying licks; he moved over to stand next to Planet and, back-to-back, they gyrated up and down each other.

Some Fan Comments


P/P (R/J, Zep, whatever you want to call it) fandom has been an interesting experience for me, because it's different than the "standard" types of media fandoms I'd done before.

We spend hours watching any video that we have, listening to any radio interviews or other audio material that contributes to our understanding of their relationship, scouring the bookstores for recent magazine articles covering the boys, buying and trading at cons and over the Internet for older material that we don't have. Similarly, we extrapolate on what we see "on the air" and learn through reading interviews and other press reports. This, as usual, takes the form of fanfic, art, and songtapes.

[Megan Kent] sat me down at Weekend in the Country several years ago, and related the whole plot of _For All the Gods Departed_ (the major Tris/Alex novel by Nancy Arena and Pam Rose). I remembered Led Zeppelin, sort of, and I liked "Stairway to Heaven" during the 70s, when it was played about once an hour. But I was intellectually turned off by the idea of slashing real people. Plus, I was deep in the throes of B7 at the time, and wasn't looking for a new fandom. So I thought to myself, "that's vaguely interesting," but didn't pursue it.

However, time passed, and I happened to hear a Coverdale/Page song on the radio. I remembered my conversation with Megan Kent], and since I liked the song, I bought the album and liked it, too. So decided to get some Led Zeppelin stuff. [Megan Kent] recommended "Remasters", the two-disc "best of the box set" album. Liked that, too. So I called [Megan Kent] back and asked to read FATGD. It was one of the most emotionally real (to me) stories I'd read in any fandom. I still can cry my eyes out over some scenes. Of course I had to know more about the people on whom this wonderful story was based, and, voila, I was hooked.

So how is it different [from episodes from scripted shows]?

Show episodes are the same each time. The show is scripted, and the characters are unlikely to suddenly slip up and declare their undying love/lust for each other.

Slash fans often view new shows with an eye toward finding a slash relationship between two of the characters. I know that I do. (In fact, after recently seeing several of this seasons episodes that I missed, I know I *must* start watching ST:DS9 again, just to see what develops between Garak and Bashir. What a slashable relationship!)

To my trained slashfan eyes, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page are living what is as close to a real-life slash relationship as I ever expect to witness. They are clearly emotionally dependent on each other, and have been since 1968. They have fought, separated for 14 years, and finally came back together. But even during the long years apart, the one's mind was always on the other, and everything they did ultimately revolved around the other.

Now you get them saying things like "It's ridiculous how we really didn't even know each other [when we got back together]. We knew what we knew from way back, and that was colored by the passing of time. But I don't think we knew where we were coming from now. I think now, having gone round the world together, there's not a single cobweb or cranny hole that hasn't been opened up and fucked off. That's what it takes when you've been together so seldom." And, "I mean, the crazy thing is, if we could have communicated in 1979 the way we are able to now, I think we would have carried on working with each other. Not as Led Zeppelin, probably. But we'd have had the presence of mind and the maturity to keep going--if we'd been able to communicate."

This is stuff that we, as slash fans, thrive upon. Imagine the fanfic that can be (and probably is being!) written to fill in the gaps, to describe in page after page of angst and hurt/comfort and sex exactly how these two people did manage to reconcile the hurts of the past, and achieve a mature relationship that's been working for close to two years now.

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.

[That this fandom is close to actor slash is] exactly what I thought when I first heard about it. I'd never done actor or other real-person slash, so I worried about it. But it turns out that I'm not having any problems keeping *my ideas* about Robert and Jimmy and what's motivating them separate from *the reality* of who they are. In actuality, *I don't know* who they really are. I only know those things they care to show me, and those things others have similarly observed and reported about them. I know that I don't know Robert, and that I don't know Jimmy. But the relationship between them that's visible to me is of the same nature as that between my media heroes, and it gives me the same satisfaction to dwell on it, and imagine its implications.

It's the same difference between being able to see K/S between Kirk and Spock, and knowing that the relationship between the characters was never intended by the writer/producer/actors/whoever to be viewed as a homoerotic one.

Except that in Robert and Jimmy's case, there is no writer/producer/...; it's just them. And *who knows* what's really going on between them? That's the exciting part!

This fandom is as emotionally fulfilling and inspiring as any fandom I've done in the past. In fact, it's perhaps a little more inspirational in that the people are real. They have faced and overcome real problems, real challenges. And they have apparently succeeded. [8]

"I was never (really) a Trek gen fan, so I didn't have to bear the animosity of gen Trek friends when I got into slash.

I didn't get into S/H until after "The One Slash Fandom" concept had passed, so I never had to sneak into corners at Trek parties to talk about my heresy.

I got into Pros [The Professionals] well after it had taken over slash fandom. I got into Multimedia long after the phrase "fannish slut" had been invented.

I got into Wiseguy well after the Church of Frank had set up sanctuary for those of us afraid to admit to liking balding guys.

I spent 10+ years in fandom without ever suffering majority ridicule for my fannish lusts. Then came...

Rock and Roll fandom

Overnight I became a figure of fun to many, and withstood sudden shunning from some. I was told my first vid in the fandom was... "wrong" was... "against everything fandom stood for." I listened to lectures from other fans about how rock slash is real person slash, and "that it opened all of slash fandom to legal exposure."

It was a rough couple of years in some small ways. And even within the small world of Rock and Roll fandom, there were people who thought slashing *their* band was ok (say, U2...), but slashing *my* band (Led Zep) was wrong. So, I feel for the skating fans, the wrestling fans and, yes, the doll fans. Every group needs a small subset of the group to stigmatize, as humorously as possible."[9]

...Led Zepplin, being the most famous, colorful, and cohesive band in the lot, had (in addition or concomitantly?) sparked the most open slash, having at least two spin-off "universes" of recognizable fictional clones with new names: the Paradox material [2] and Bird of Paradise. These re-creations are understood, in the complex fannish fashion, to be fiction with a close basis on LZ's history; they follow it, but are not bound to it. [Megan Kent] made the point that while the ' writers may have ties to and memories of LZ-era events, perhaps even inner-circle private events, their accounts are not necessarily objective or, at this date, reliable. They are, however, an exceptionally grateful basis for fanfic.

Why focus on rock band musicians to find slash? The milieu, of course, is glamorous but distanced, "other," if very visible; and the characters (meaning the musicians) are extremely high-profile for the population that includes most fans. One audience member said, with emphasis, that 'the image was of' men cooperating with all their resources to create something, rather than to deal death and destruction; the contrast with most slash scenarios is indeed striking. Should we not find that sexy? This highlights the split-second coordination, the years or practice and moments of inspiration that build a band or a close couple within a band. Should they not find it sexy, as characters in our imaginations performing those actions? And, as was at least peripherally acknowledged somewhere in the panel, these guys are not hard on the eyes and in some cases dress to titillate. Not counting the guitar-fucking, the simulated fellatio on stage, and similar stunts. Rock music is based on, and exudes, sexuality from its origins to its social functions today and at all points (if not in all examples) in between.

I brought up rock as a milieu that is not only glamorous but sometimes meant, on stage at least, to be weird and fantastic. SF-like images on stage (Ziggy Stardust...) are not uncommon, and song lyrics with surreal or fantasy elements are common enough. The room as a whole didn't think much of Bowie as a slash icon, but his reputation (and others') for bi and gay behavior certainly feeds the speculation. This is one milieu where a public figure could succeed in flirting with gay images from about 1970 on, however little serious gay activism was accepted there until the 90's.

If the problem for many slash writers Is that these are real people, said someone, how can we defuse that, make it obvious we're writing fiction for our fantasies instead of trying to defame (as some would see it) popular artists? The solution there is obvious (and has been used by published writers time out of mind) — change the names. Tris/Alex is circulating semi-openly in fandom, though other hinted-at stories are not, because the name change makes it fiction by most people's definition.

There are some of us who found the Paradox fiction [3] before hearing much about (or of) Led Zepplin, including myself. I know that I was entranced by the fiction — the writing of fans — rather than, originally, the band. No doubt 1 would have been less fascinated if LZ's music had not intrigued me on its own when 1 did hear it, but the appeal is very different. 1 enjoyed the fan-style character writing and the (admittedly sanitized) evocation of a touring band in prose, or I'd never have cared about LZ. Slash at its most abstract, or perhaps slash writing at its least dependent-on-source, attracted me. Is there a significant percentage of mediafans who pick up on rock-milieu slash simply because it's fannish and slash, regardless of the characters' origins? Or do the majority of fans in this sub-group tend to remember their experience of rock music and the rock element in youth culture, seeing the musicians as so numinous that, like TV characters, they are eternal in the common audience's imagination and thus workable as fanwriters' starting points?


Notable Fanworks

Fan Fiction:

Led Zeppelin

  • Sledgehammer of the Gods by Lisa Marie DeCarolis (1995) - An AU crack fic for hardcore fans, "What do rock and rollers do when they're sick of the biz? Well, of course, they hit the mean streets of New York City to stamp out crime. That's what Robert Plant and Jimmy Page did, and they became the hottest crime fighting duo in the history of New York City justice. Here is their story."


See Tris/Alex#Tris.2FAlex Stories


Other Fan Casts


Led Zeppelin Fan Art



  • Xmas rocks (2006-2001 - gift exchange which included Led Zeppelin fics.

Mailing Lists


Additional Reading


  1. ^ Wikipedia page for David Coverdale
  2. ^ comments by Sandy Hereld on Virgule-L, quoted with permission (Apr 26, 1996)
  3. ^ Sandy Herrold, from Virgule-L, quoted with permission (Sep 20, 1993,)
  4. ^ Gloria Galasso. Email to gardeners list. April 13, 2010.
  5. ^ Sandy Herrold posting to the Virgule-L mailing list September 13, 1994, quoted with permission.
  6. ^ Sandy Herrold posting to Virgule-L mailing list June 22, 1998, quoted with permission.
  7. ^ Led Zeppelin at Archive of Our Own
  8. ^ fan comments on Virgule-L, quoted with permission (September 12, 1995)
  9. ^ Sandy Herrold's October 1996 post to the Virgule-L mailing list, quoted with permission.
  10. ^ Escapade 1994 Con Report by Barbara in Strange Bedfellows Issue #5
  11. ^ from Strange Bedfellows (APA) #9 (May 1995)
  12. ^ WebCite for "BandFic history and Led Zeppelin"