Led Zeppelin

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

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..." [4]

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. [5]

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). 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. [2]

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.

Some Fan Comments

[1995]:

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. [6]

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 [4]
  • Led Zeppelin by JKorim [5]

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. Sandy Herrold posting to Virgule-L mailing list June 22, 1998, quoted with permission.
  5. [https://archiveofourown.org/works/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&work_search%5Bquery%5D=led+zeppelin Led Zeppelin at Archive of Our Own
  6. fan comments on Virgule-L, quoted with permission (September 12, 1995)
  7. WebCite for "BandFic history and Led Zeppelin"